UClan's oldest undergraduate: mature student, 64, who once suffered five cardiac arrests in five hours resumes his studies after heart transplant

Kevin Brockbank, from Ashton, took time out from his degree to recover from a heart transplant.
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The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) multimedia journalism student may be the oldest student on his course but he certainly isn’t lacking in drive and energy. Aged 64, he has begun the second year of his degree after taking time out to recover from a heart transplant he received less than 18 months ago. Although Kevin accepted he needed time off university to recover from the major surgery that left him in a coma for four weeks, he managed to complete his first year despite being in hospital for nine months.

Kevin, who lives in Ashton, said: “I started at UCLan in 2020 but then in January 2021, I was kept in hospital awaiting a heart transplant because my health was deteriorating. The Covid pandemic actually made studying easier because everything was done online. I ended up in hospital for nearly nine months and conducted many interviews from my hospital bed. I even presented a piece to camera in my pyjamas!” Kevin finally received his transplant in May 2021 when, because of complications, he was left in a coma with an open ribcage.

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“I had to learn to walk again because of muscle wastage and had a tracheotomy so my recovery took longer than expected” Kevin said. “Knowing I had university to come back to kept me going and gave me a focus. I wanted to return in September 2021 but was advised not to. Instead, I began my second year in September and am really enjoying being back.”

Kevin Brockbank, from Ashton, is back at UCLan to resume his studies after recovering from a heart transplant. At 64, he is the oldest person on his courseKevin Brockbank, from Ashton, is back at UCLan to resume his studies after recovering from a heart transplant. At 64, he is the oldest person on his course
Kevin Brockbank, from Ashton, is back at UCLan to resume his studies after recovering from a heart transplant. At 64, he is the oldest person on his course
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The father and grandfather, whose 40 year career as a service engineer for printing presses took him around the word, had never been to university before UCLan. After being made redundant in 2013, Kevin realised he had to start from the beginning all over again.

He said: “I had four O-Levels but couldn’t find the certificates so I had to sit GCSE maths and English exams and then completed three A-Levels in a year at Blackpool and the Fylde College. I was attracted to journalism because I like writing and I’m interested in people’s stories. I met many fascinating people from all over the world in my last career and I loved learning about their lives. It was daunting returning to education nearly 50 years after finishing school but I just thought why not? I had a life-changing experience in 2012 when I had five cardiac arrests in five hours and almost died so I’ve been given another chance at life and am determined to make the most of it.”

Kevin now has his sights set on a new career in broadcast journalism after university. He added: “I certainly feel like I have another career in me and would love the chance to work in TV. I still have a lot to offer and can draw on some amazing life experiences.”

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