A NURSE who swapped the clinic for the classroom will take on a dream doctorate in law after returning to university to “follow his dreams”.
Craig Wathall (56), of Cherry Tree Crescent, Wickersley, has been a community mental health nurse for 25 years and runs a care company with his wife Veronica (50).
But his academic roots are in law, which he studied 30 years ago at North Staffordshire Polytechnic.
An interest in mental health led the young graduate into nursing, but his love of law never waned.
Craig took a year out of nursing to gain a master’s degree in law from Leeds Beckett University.
“Last year, I decided my business was going well enough for me to take some time out and do something for myself,” he said.
“I completed the master’s and got the highest marks in my class — I was shocked to do so well.
“But I was revising very hard, doing 12-hour nights at the library. Sometimes I wouldn’t finish studying until 8am.”
He added: “It goes to show that you’re never too old to learn. I hope I encourage some other people to go and do the same.”
Graduating at the top of his class, Craig was immediately offered several jobs as a solicitor.
He could have begun a lucrative career as a barrister — but then he was offered a doctoral post at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Craig chose to continue his education, focusing on human rights law, which he hopes to teach, one day.
“Most of my colleagues and staff said I was too old to do a master’s degree,” said Craig, “so I decided to do it.
“Now I’m retiring from my business and leaving my wife to run it, while I go to study in Galway for a while.”
The couple has a holiday home in Ireland, so Veronica will be able to visit frequently and manage their company remotely.
She said: “I’m very proud of him. We were at his graduation when the tutor approached him and offered him a PhD at Leeds Beckett.
“By then he had already had an offer from Galway. It’s all very, very exciting.”
Veronica added: “I do wish he was studying closer to home, but I want him to go where he wants and to be happy.
“We will have plenty of holidays in Ireland so there will be very little separation.”
Unsure of where a PhD will take him, the ambitious nurse is confident of one thing — education is for all ages.
“The message is follow your heart, follow your dreams,” said Craig.
“If I had listened to everyone who doubted me, I wouldn’t have done it.”