Mary proves you are never too old to learn

Mary Waudby, 78, with her humanities with art history degree from the Open University
Mary Waudby, 78, with her humanities with art history degree from the Open University

They say you are never too old to learn – and one Wellingborough woman has proved the old adage right by completing a degree at the age of 78.

Mary Waudby may not be just out of school, chasing the nearest party or living off her parents – she is a grandmother and is on a state pension.

But Mrs Waudby has proved anything can be done at any age with a bit of determination.

She said: “I always wanted to go to university as a teenager but couldn’t go because of the cost.

“But after my daughters all graduated I thought ‘why can’t I do that now too?’.

“I told myself, now it is your turn.”

A former teacher, Mrs Waudby painted in her retirement and had work exhibited five times at the Royal Academy.

So five years ago she signed up to study a degree in humanities with art history at the Open University.

Overcoming ill health, Mrs Waudby achieved her goal and received her degree at a ceremony at the Barbican in London last month.

She was watched by six members of her family including two of her five grandchildren.

She said: “I owe my success to my parents, especially my mother.

“They believed in higher education for girls as well as boys.

“It was my late husband who encouraged me to keep painting and my lovely three daughters who boosted my morale and were always on the end of the phone when needed.”

Mrs Waudby, of Buckwell Close, was born in London before growing up in Hertfordshire.

She earned a scholarship to grammar school before leaving to teach at schools in the county and then on the Falkland Islands.

While on the isles she met her husband Bryan before returning with him to live in Doncaster, where she had three children.

On return to England she took up painting and continued after her husband’s death in 1980.

She also taught at various schools before moving to Wellingborough in 1994 to be closer to two of her daughters.

She said: “I’m so happy to have achieved my goal, it’s something I would have regretted not doing.

“I’d tell anyone else who thinks that they are too old that they are not.”