Double joy as new Edge Hill graduate battles adversity and becomes a dad
Student Toby Mercer is starting a new life in more ways than one as he picks up a university degree and becomes a first time dad.
The creative writing scholar couldn't; have penned a better ending to his years of study at Edge Hill University.
Just as he was finishing his degree, partner and fellow Edge Hill student Jesse gave birth to daughter Fern after battling cancer.
The celebration came despite a number of difficult years during which Toby cared for and lost both his parents and Jesse also suffered cancer and underwent chemotherapy.
Now the couple are planning to start a new life in the great outdoors.
Toby, 25, from Lathom near Ormskirk, said: " It has been very difficult and many times I felt like giving up my studies.
"I took a year out after mum died and it was partly thanks to my tutors who supported me throughout that I came back.
"They said I should continue my degree for myself and it almost gave me permission to focus on writing and that has allowed me to metabolise some of my grief."
As part of his studies he turned his grief into positivity by using turning extracts from his parents’ journals and writings into poetry.
Toby said: "By working with my parents’ words I was almost carrying on my conversations with them."
As Jesse continues her film poetry in the form of an MRes at Edge Hill the pair plan to buy land in Wales to create a space for celebrations and ceremony including weddings and a memorial forest.
Toby, wants to combine his love of writing and carpentry in the new outdoor venture and said : "It’s been one challenge after another since 2011 so it’s hard to believe that we now have a healthy daughter and an exciting future.
"I’ve already started writing things for and about Fern, and I’m looking forward to years of making and sharing stories together."