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British Empire Medal for student

Continuing & Professional Education student Eileen Younghusband, 91, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for her services and commitment to learning.

Eileen has been a student at Continuing & Professional Education for over 17 years studying Creative Writing and Spanish.

After completing a Diploma in Higher Education at the Centre, Eileen went on to study towards a degree with the Open University, which she gained at the age of 87.

After graduation, and with help from the Centre, Eileen published her first book Not an Ordinary Life, and she soon followed it up with her second work titled One Woman’s War. She is now in the process of writing a third which will be called Men I have known.

Eileen said: “I am completely surprised. I’d never anticipated that at 91 I would even be considered for anything like this. Older people who are able to continue learning really extend their life I consider. It’s no good just sitting back and doing nothing.”

“I cannot speak too highly of Continuing & Professional Education. The encouragement and support which I have encountered throughout the Centre both from tutors and support staff has been magnificent. Furthermore, I have managed to meet and make friends with so many interesting people. Without doubt, my quality of life has been improved by taking part in learning programmes.”

Among those that nominated her for the British Empire Medal is Dr David Wyatt. He said: “Anyone who has met Eileen knows that she is a very special person. Her sharp intellect, rapier wit, and well honed social skills remain undiminished by time. We all owe her a huge debt of gratitude for her contribution to Britain’s war effort. Moreover, in later life, her studies have provided her with the skills bring that important story, of the unsung girls from the RAF’s filter room, to the attention of the public. She has done this through her remarkable books, tireless presentations to schools and community groups and countless media appearances. Eileen is a remarkable communicator and inspiration, not just to adult learners, but to us all. It is a great privilege to have campaigned and worked with her over the last four years and to have played some small part in her receiving this award.”

Eileen is just one of almost 4,000 students that study at the Centre each year. The Centre offers a range of courses at a variety of levels for the general public – and not just in the subject area of Creative Writing and Spanish. You do not need lots of qualifications to study at the Centre, just an interest in a subject and a willingness to explore it in the company of others. Find out more online at