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Author Dame Jacqueline Wilson congratulates 98-year-old Ipswich graduate Freda Smith on honorary degree

PUBLISHED: 07:42 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:53 17 May 2017

Freda Smith with Jacqueline Wilson at the honorary graduation ceremony. Picture: CHRIS PERRY

Freda Smith with Jacqueline Wilson at the honorary graduation ceremony. Picture: CHRIS PERRY

Chris PerryPhotography

A 98-year-old former teacher from Ipswich donned a cap and gown to pick up an honorary degree for her achievements in education.

Freda throws her cap in the air during the event in London. Picture: CHRIS PERRYFreda throws her cap in the air during the event in London. Picture: CHRIS PERRY

Freda Smith was awarded the accolade from the University of Roehampton during a special ceremony at London Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall on Monday.

Speaking before the event, Freda, who is understood to be one of Britain’s oldest graduates, said: “It’s absolutely wonderful to celebrate a degree like this at my age.”

The ex-headteacher of Sprites Infant School in Ipswich was pictured alongside celebrated children’s author and chancellor of the University of Roehampton, Dame Jacqueline Wilson.

The university handed out honorary degrees to more than 2,000 alumni who achieved a Certificate in Education, a teaching qualification which was awarded until 1981.

Freda Smith taught for 44 years. Picture: CHRIS PERRYFreda Smith taught for 44 years. Picture: CHRIS PERRY

Freda, who taught for 44 years at schools across Ipswich, London and Sheffield, was unable to study for a traditional three-year degree because her parents could not afford to pay.

Vice chancellor Professor Paul O’Prey CBE said: “This event is about recognising the hard work and dedication of the women and men who have made significant contributions to education and teaching across the world.”

Freda is thought to be one of Britain's oldest graduates. Picture: CHRIS PERRYFreda is thought to be one of Britain's oldest graduates. Picture: CHRIS PERRY


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