A pensioner has become one of Britain’s oldest postgraduate students after
being enrolled on a creative writing master’s degree – at the age of 80.
Grandmother Hilary Chalkley was encouraged by her children to complete the course as they didn’t want her to become ‘vegetative’.
She retired from her job as a cleaner six years ago, but found sitting at home ‘boring’.
Instead she joined a local college where she began to write romantic fiction, and now hopes to take her new-found talent to the next level.
Hilary said: “I’m so excited to do this course.
“I want people in their eighties to knot that their lives aren’t over, eighty is the new sixty, people should be going out and getting what they want.
“I was sat at the kitchen table with my two daughters and they said: ‘Mum, you’re vegetating’.
“It took someone to jar and jerk me to make me realise that I had become static.
“Now that I’m on a course they’re all so proud of me.”
Hilary, from Berkhamstead, Herts., left school aged fifteen because her father had died two years before.
She has never been to university or college, but began to study creative writing six years ago.
Since then, she has penned a novel called Through The Manor Gates whileits sequel Georgina’s Manor in the editing process.
The books are about a family living in a historic manor house, inspired by her childhood.
Hilary, who lives with husband Syd, 76, and is mum to daughters Gill and Libby, hopes the postgraduate degree will help improve her skills and secure her a book deal.
She will enrol on the two-year MA course in creative writing at Kingston University next month, at the same time as thousands of excited 18-year-old ‘freshers’.
“I applied to Kingston tongue-in-cheek but I was absolutely gobsmacked when I got the email to say I had been accepted,” said Hilary.
“I didn’t think I could do a masters without previously getting a degree but I’ve been accepted so I’m not complaining.
“I am thrilled.”