GALLERY: One woman’s courage stands out on a day College of West Anglia students graduate
A MOTHER of three who continued her studies while battling a brain tumour was remembered by her fellow students as they graduated from the College of West Anglia on Saturday.
Lisa Wiles, 43, was determined to complete her psychology and sociology degree, but died in October last year before she could fulfil her dream.
Her family established Red Wellies, The Lisa Wiles Brain Tumour Support Fund in her memory and thousands of pounds have already been raised to help patients suffering from the same aggressive form of cancer.
Some of the students wore red items to remember the courageous woman who fought tooth and nail to graduate alongside them.
The ceremony, at St Nicholas Chapel in King’s Lynn, was attended by much of Lisa’s family, including her parents Mervyn and Rosalie, and collection boxes for her charity were placed by the door.
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“It’s bittersweet for us,” Mr Wiles said. “Lisa would have been graduating too, so it’s a proud day but also very emotional.
“The day before she started what we call her final battle, she insisted she was going into college. She was determined to carry on with her degree.
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“Eventually she wanted to return to full-time work and make a better life for herself and her children.”
Lisa, of Blackborough End, was first diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in August 2010 after suffering from excruciating headaches.
Surgery to remove the tumour was successful, but a second, inoperable tumour was found in July last year and she began to rapidly decline, losing her speech and mobility.
The day before she lapsed into semi-consciousness, she managed to attend classes at the college with the help of her friends.
She died on October 13 last year, leaving her children Zachary, 20, Shannen, 19, and Cameron, 15 and her partner Simon.
Just weeks before her diagnosis, Lisa took part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life and her continued fund-raising inspired the formation of the fund.
“We couldn’t do anything else but continue her good work when she died,” Mr Wiles, of Middleton, said.
“When Lisa was a little she used to love these red welly boots. She used to splash in puddles and come and meet me from work in them. Right up until we lost her, she was always my little red wellies girl.
“She was very much a family girl, very well thought of and a brilliant mother to her children.”
The charity has already raised about �11,000 for research into GBM since its launch in February.
Bells rang out as West Norfolk mayor Geoffrey Wareham led a procession of fellow dignitaries and academics through the busy town centre to the historic chapel in St Ann’s Street at noon yesterday.
The pews were packed with proud parents, partners and relatives and 158 students from 18 different programmes graduated.
Certificates were presented by college principal David Pomfret and Helen Valentine, deputy vice chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).
Sam Ferguson was named the ARU student of the year, while the ARU alumni award for student rep 2012 was presented to mature student Roger Smith.
Mr Pomfret said: “Through our successful partnership with Anglia Ruskin University, the College of West Anglia provides higher education opportunities. Our commitment to Higher Education has never been stronger.
“It is great to see so many of our students graduating with so much support from family, friends and employers. We wish our graduates every success as they progress to employment and further studies.”