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Excellence Scholarship winner Shannon Duff in the Catalyst building.Shannon Duff is following in the footsteps of her mother as she continues her path towards a career in Nursing by studying at the same University. Her other passion, the Sea Cadets, has seen her student journey begin with the award of an Excellence Scholarship.

The former Cronton Sixth Form student excelled in her BTEC Extended diploma in health (nursing), helping her gain a place at Edge Hill, her first choice university.

She said: “I was attracted to Edge Hill due to the experience my mum had when she studied here. We then came to open days and I fell in love with the campus and the staff, everyone was so friendly and welcoming.

“I especially liked how modern the campus was, and the clinical skills labs which had simulation patients. It was something I hadn’t seen at other universities I’d visited.”

Shannon plans to become a practice nurse.

She was also positively influenced by other family members when she pursued her other main interest – the Sea Cadets.

“I joined when I was 11 because my nan and grandad were both in the Navy and they thought it was a good place to make friends and develop my confidence. I developed skills such as teamwork and commitment and it helped me to gain more confidence and leadership abilities.”

Shannon flourished with the organisation, landing one of the organisation’s most prestigious honours when she was selected as one of six people to represent the Navy Board Cadets at key events.

“I represented the North West. We were chosen for outstanding commitment, achievement and dedication. I represented all cadets at competitions, ceremonies and meetings. I was also selected to carry Nelson’s ensign at the national Trafalgar parade in London, which was a big highlight of my cadet career.”

Shannon is keen for other girls to follow in her footsteps with the Sea Cadets, emphasising the benefits which have allowed her to progress.

“It’s a place where you are accepted and encouraged to learn and become a leader. There isn’t anything that girls can’t do, whether it’s taking charge of a rowing crew, being part of the football team or going shooting – it’s open to all.”

Fundraising was one element which allowed her to appreciate the selfless efforts of her fellow cadets and instructors.

“As a charity we rely on the time and effort of people to go out and fundraise and rely on the generosity of the public to give what they can. I was inspired to see how much people gave, people we didn’t know.

“The Sea Cadets do so much to help others. We sell poppies for the Royal British Legion, bag pack to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and the Armed Forces Charity, SSAFA. We often hold family race and game nights to help the Royal Marines Association raise money.”

And has she found it an issue to balance her study commitments with her volunteering work, as well as a part-time job at a pharmacy?

“It has been challenging but it helps to keep on top of work and not leave things until the last minute. I also find it helpful to prioritise so that it doesn’t get overwhelming.”

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