A UCLan PaST graduate is celebrating after bouncing back in style from the disappointment of losing his job.
Stephen Finlay, from County Wicklow, graduated top of his physiotherapy class and received the Delsys Prize for Academic Excellence, which he collected during UCLan's week of graduation ceremonies.
Ireland's economic downturn meant Stephen was made redundant shortly after he completed his electricians' apprenticeship, which convinced him to explore other career opportunities.
He said: "I looked into physiotherapy and decided it was what I wanted to do. The human body has always interested me and I felt I was good with people, which is important in this job.
"I enjoyed being an electrician. I was making good money and planning to go and work in Australia, but losing my job made me reassess my goals.
"With one career already under his belt, Stephen wanted to qualify as a physio as quickly as possible. Before joining our programme he spent three years at Sallynoggin College, Dublin, where he trained as a fitness instructor. The 28-year-old admits it's a relief to finally graduate.
"It's been a long time in the making, so I'm delighted to be graduating and I'm humbled to have won the Delsys Prize," said Stephen. "I wanted to start the course as soon as I lost my job, but looking back I think that would have been catastrophic because I learnt a lot at college.
"They taught me so much about the fundamentals of the anatomy of the body, and that meant I hit the ground running when I started University."
Stephen hopes to run his own private practice one day and is still exploring the opportunity of moving to Australia, but for now wants to gain as much experience as possible in an NHS setting.
"Now I've qualified I'm looking forward to having more of a free role so that my personality and style of physiotherapy can really come across," he said.
"I've registered as a locum and plan to spend the next year gaining experience before I decide what route within physiotherapy I want to take. The good news is I can work anywhere in the world, so I've got options."