Bristol University student graduates after losing both parents to cancer

Mollie Chapman said her parents would be ‘insanely proud’ of her

A student at the University of Bristol who tragically lost both of her parents to cancer says they would be “insanely proud” of her graduating from the university.

Mollie Chapman proudly stood in her Bristol University robes outside the Wills Memorial Building last Friday (23rd February) with her grandma and auntie by her side, knowing that her mum and dad were looking down on her with overwhelming pride.

Mollie graduated with her auntie and grandma by her side (via SWNS)

The 24-year-old, from Yatton, Somerset, studied for a PGCE (a teacher training qualification) during her time in Bristol and is currently teaching English to secondary school pupils.

Now fulfilling her dream of becoming a teacher, Mollie is particularly enjoying the opportunity to connect with those who have also had tough starts in life.

When Mollie was born, her father, Pete Chapman, who was being cared for a few corridors away in the leukaemia ward, was wheeled in on his bed to hold his baby daughter.

Mollie was only 18 months old when her dad passed way (via SWNS)

Pete unfortunately died 18 months after her birth, leaving Mollie’s mum, Jane Chapman, to raise two young children.

Speaking about her mum, Mollie said: “She’s my absolute hero. She worked full-time with a one-year-old and a three-year-old. As I got older, I realised that she sacrificed everything for us, it must have been so tough for her, she was such a trooper.”

In 2012, just as Mollie was beginning secondary school, Jane was sadly diagnosed with breast cancer.

Despite being told that she only had a year to live, she battled hard against her illness, desperate to see her children grow up and take on life’s challenges.

“My mum was a fighter, and she knew that she wanted to see us through school and hopefully university,” said Molly.

“She managed to see the days we both got our GCSEs, A-levels and enrolled in university, and I think there was a part of us that thought she would see the day that we graduated too. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be the case for us.”

Mollie described her mum as a ‘fighter’ (via SWNS)

After eight years of battling cancer, Mollie’s mum died in 2020, aged 54, after being admitted to St Peter’s Hospice in North Bristol.

Mollie said: “She passed in her sleep and found her place in heaven to be reunited with my dad after 19 years apart.”

Reflecting on graduating from Bristol, she added: “Mum knew I wanted to be a teacher, and I know she’d be proud of me. It’s a really big achievement, and she’s been a real inspiration to me. She’d be thinking ‘that’s my girl’, for sure!

“I have faced a lot of adversity in my short time on the planet, but I have never let that get in my way of achieving every single thing that I believe is within my reach – and if it’s not within my reach, I’ve got two angels who can give it a kick down to me to help me out.”

Professor Tansy Jessop, the University of Bristol’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students, said: “Mollie’s success is testament to her courage in the face of adversity. It’s not only her mum and dad who would be ‘insanely proud of her’ – we are too.

“We salute her determination and character and wish her everything of the best in her teaching career!”

Featured image via SWNS. 

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