Sheffield University student set to graduate at ninety

Graham Bell, 86, of Handsworth, who is studying for a degree at Sheffield University
Graham Bell, 86, of Handsworth, who is studying for a degree at Sheffield University

A PENSIONER studying at Sheffield University and proving you are never too old to learn has been nominated for a national award.

Graham Bell, aged 86, of Handsworth, is studying French through The Institute of Lifelong Learning and will be 90 when he graduates.

The retired steelworker and Royal Navy D-Day veteran has been nominated for the Diamond Champions scheme that honours unsung heroes over 60 for voluntary work.

It is a new award to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Graham volunteers for a number of charities and has helped to raise more than £10,000 for Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind and the Brunswick Gardens Retirement Village in Woodhouse.

Graham, who has three children and six grandchildren, said: “There is something about the word volunteer - whenever I see it I feel the need to put my name forward.

“It came as a bit of a shock to discover I had been nominated, it is quite an honour.

“As well as helping children to read at school I also support elderly people at the gym four times a week - I make sure they don’t fall off the treadmills and ensure they behave themselves. And I do a bit of training at the same time”

Graham, who was awarded an MBE six years ago, began studying French in 2008.

The Institute of Lifelong Learning gives people who previously ruled out higher education the chance to study alongside work, family and other commitments.

Graham said: “I have been obsessed with French all of my life and I thoroughly enjoy my studies at the University of Sheffield.

“I am the oldest person in the classes but everyone is so supportive, especially my tutors. I will be 90 when I graduate - that’s if I am still alive!”