Freda Smith
Image caption Freda Smith worked as a teacher for 44 years, taking only 19 sick days in that time

A 98-year-old is to be given an honorary degree more than 70 years after she was unable to complete her teaching course when her money ran out.

Freda Smith, from Ipswich, is one of 2,100 recipients of the awards from the University of Roehampton.

Mrs Smith worked as a teacher for 44 years after leaving college two years into her degree as her parents could not afford to keep her there.

She said receiving the degree was “lovely” and “an honour”.

“I always wanted to be a school teacher,” said the nonagenarian, who started at college in 1936.

“In those days, teacher’s certificates took two years. But because I went to London, I wasn’t given any grants from Sheffield [where I lived], but my parents mortgaged their house to pay for me to go.”

She went on to work as a teacher for four decades, only taking 19 sick days in that time.

Image caption Mrs Smith she considered the degree from the University of Roehampton to be “an honour”

Recipients are set to be given the degrees during a ceremony at London Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall.

When she heard the news, Mrs Smith said she “laughed a lot about it”.

“But I must admit, I do consider it to be an honour,” she explained.

“When I apply for my next job, I shall be able to say Freda Smith, BEd.”

Prof Paul O’Prey CBE, university vice chancellor, said the event was about “about recognising the hard work and dedication of the women and men who have made significant contributions to education and teaching across the world”.


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