Student Toby Mercer is not only celebrating gaining a BA (Hons) degree in Creative Writing but also the birth of his first daughter.

Just as he was finishing his degree, partner and fellow Edge Hill student Jesse gave birth to Fern and the couple now plan to start a new outdoor venture in Wales.

The success comes despite a number of difficult years for Toby during which time he cared for and lost both his parents and Jesse had cancer and chemotherapy.

Toby, 25, from Lathom, said: “It’s been very difficult and many times I felt like giving up my studies. I took a year out after mum died and it was partly thanks to my tutors who supported me throughout that I came back.

“They said I should continue my degree for myself and it almost gave me permission to focus on writing and that has allowed me to metabolise some of my grief.”

As part of his studies, Toby rearranged extracts from his parents’ journals and writings which he then turned into poetry.

“By working with my parents’ words I was almost carrying on my conversations with them.”

As Jesse continues her film poetry in the form of an MRes at Edge Hill the pair plan to buy land in Wales to create a space for celebrations and ceremony including weddings and a memorial forest. 

Toby, who wants to combine his love of writing and carpentry in the new outdoor venture, added: “It’s been one challenge after another since 2011 so it’s hard to believe that we now have a healthy daughter and an exciting future. 

“I’ve already started writing things for and about Fern, and I’m looking forward to years of making and sharing stories together.”

To find out more about our undergraduate BA (Hons) Creative Writing course and others, visit the website, or for postgraduate studies take a look at MA Creative Writing.