Alycia’s Cambridge University dream comes true

Whether a young person is just starting school or returning after the holidays, the first day of school is a significant milestone. This year, GOSH patient Alycia celebrated a very special first day – at Cambridge University!

GOSH patient Alycia started studying at Cambridge University this year after achieving outstanding exam results against the odds.

18-year-old Alycia, from Darlington, County Durham, missed weeks and months of secondary school due to a combination of rare and complex disorders that affected muscles, bones, and joints. Through her teens, Alycia was left struggling to stand or walk. Her local hospital sent her to see specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Over four years, every few months, Alycia would wake at 5am to travel 250 miles to GOSH to find answers for her condition. Specialists at GOSH helped co-ordinate treatment with her local hospital and developed a physiotherapy plan to help her learn to walk again. 

Through all the years of pain and discomfort, she continued to study and achieved a fantastic three A* at A Level and succeeded in securing a place at Cambridge University. 

Alycia in her school hall holding her results. Photo credit: Northern Echo

Years of uncertainty

Alycia said: “I’m so excited to be going to Cambridge! I was at a train station when they called to tell me I’d got in. I said “really?” because I couldn’t believe it. I have never been so stuck for words. I just feel ecstatic.

“I missed most of my secondary school and that meant I often felt quite lost about my education. At one point I couldn’t walk and couldn’t leave the house. After years of uncertainty I was referred to GOSH to find out more. We would get up at 5am, spend all day at GOSH, and then take the last train to get home by midnight. I also suffer from chronic tiredness so the long days were very difficult for me.

“At GOSH they gave me a diagnosis, which is a combination of different complex and rare musculoskeletal disorders. Thanks to GOSH, my health is better now and I’m a lot more active.

Fantastic achievement

“I visited Cambridge during sixth form and thought what a dream it would be to study History in such an historic environment. I had to check it was OK for my condition and then I applied. Even though I worked really hard for my A-Level exams, getting A* grades was a big surprise.

“I’m over the moon. To celebrate I’m having a BBQ with my friends and this summer I got to see my favourite band, Coldplay, twice. I’m looking forward to studying the subject I love and in the future, I would like to be a history professor.”

Speaking about her daughter’s success, Alycia’s mother, Alison, said: “Alycia has gone through a very difficult time and there were days when she would naturally feel fed up that she couldn’t go to school or even leave the house. Alycia missed so much of her secondary school making the ambitious achievement of gaining a place at Cambridge University is all the more outstanding. It’s a fantastic achievement and we are so proud of her.”

Every day 618 children from across the UK arrive at GOSH for life-changing treatment. Without you, we can't help seriously ill children across the UK get #backtoschool.

Photos courtesy of the Northern Echo