A STUDENT from New Milton who overcame severe anxiety to pursue a career in nursing attended a special event at the House of Lords.

Melanie Edwards is one of more than 100 students who have been awarded a bursary from the Helena Kennedy Foundation, a charity which provides support to students from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them progress into higher education.

The 30-year-old, who completed an access course at Brockenhurst College, is now studying for a degree in adult nursing at the University of Southampton.

“The woman who ran the course at the college told me to apply,” she said.

“I didn’t think anything would come of it and then I got an email saying I have been granted the bursary and had been invited to the House of Lords.”

Mrs Edwards will receive £500 for each year of her studies and has access to support from the charity throughout her three years at university.

She said her visit to the House was a very memorable day.

“It was lovely,” she said. “Obviously you don’t get to do things like that very often.”

During the event, which was supported by exam board OCR, Mrs Edwards met with representatives from the Helena Kennedy Foundation.

The charity was set up in Baroness Kennedy’s name more than 15 years ago to take forward the findings of her seminal Learning Works report, which highlighted the low participation rates in education for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Speaking at the event, Baroness Kennedy said: “Our bursary holders are truly inspirational people and it is an honour to witness and support their rise to success. I am delighted to have presented these students with one of our awards in acknowledgment of their achievements. Life is all about learning new things. Each awarded student has shown fortitude and determination in taking the next step in their life.”

Dr Ann Limb, who started the foundation in 1998, and is chair of trustees, said: “Making the leap from college to university can be a big step and our foundation works with colleges across the UK to support students to overcome real disadvantage.

“We are determined to continue to invest in talent, reward hard work and believe in the potential of education to transform lives.”