A FORMER brickie is building himself a new career after gaining a degree.

David Christie, 38, has just graduated from Edge Hill College of Higher Education with a BA (Hons) degree in Criminology and Applied Social Sciences.

The 38-year-old, of Scarisbrick Avenue, Litherland, trained as a bricklayer when he left school and worked all over Britain and Europe.

But he was given the chance to change his life by Edge Hill’s innovative Fastrack scheme, aimed at helping over-21s without traditional qualifications into higher education.

The six-week access course taught Dave essential study skills including essay writing, note-taking, revision and exam techniques, as well as some subject knowledge. At the end he was rewarded with a place on his chosen degree course.

Glasgow-born David said: “I really looked forward to starting the degree because I had had such a good experience on Fastrack. But I remember sitting in one of my first lectures looking at everybody else and wondering whether I was going to be the dunce of the class.

“At the beginning I worked really hard because I thought I had to overcompensate for not having come with lots of traditional qualifications but once I learned to relax a bit I really enjoyed it.”

Throughout the course David had strong support from his wife, Karen, and children Zoe, 12, and Tom, 8.

He said: “My wife was studying for a degree too and there were times when we would all sit down and do our homework together!

“I loved studying. It was never a chore, even although I was sometimes up writing essays at 2 and 3 in the morning.”

David is working at Edge Hill over the summer, supporting students who are having difficulties with their studies, and is hoping to study for a Master’s degree next year.

He still does the odd bricklaying job from time to time but is pleased his degree has given him a wider range of career choices.

He said: “I would encourage other mature students to think seriously about studying if they want to. As a mature student you bring a lot of useful life skills with you and you often have a greater commitment to your studies because you have made the decision to change your lifestyle.

“The financial aspect of studying for a degree can be off-putting but you have to take the long-term view – as a graduate you will have more earning power and will have more opportunities open to you.”

David graduated at a ceremony at Lancaster University. Edge Hill degrees are accredited by Lancaster.