A SOMERSET student who lost both her parents to cancer says they would be “insanely proud” as she graduates from university.

Mollie Chapman, 24, studied for a PGCE (a teacher training qualification) at the University of Bristol and is now teaching secondary school pupils English.

When Mollie was born, her father Pete was just a few corridors away in a leukaemia ward. His bed was wheeled over so he could hold his baby daughter.

Tragically, he died 18 months later aged 31, leaving Mollie’s mum Jane Chapman with two young children to look after.

Mollie Chapman with her dad Pete.
Mollie Chapman with her dad Pete. (University of Bristol / SWNS)

In 2012, Mollie was just starting secondary school when Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was told she only had a year to live.

In 2020, eight years after her diagnosis, Jane was admitted to St Peter’s Hospice in North Bristol. She passed away aged 54.

Mollie, of Yatton, Somerset, said: “She’s my absolute hero. She worked full time with a one-year-old and a three-year-old.

''As I got older, I realised that she sacrificed everything for us, it must have been so tough for her, she was such a trooper.

“Boy did she prove those doctors wrong. My mum was a fighter and she knew that she wanted to see us through school and hopefully to university.

Mollie Chapman with her mum Jane
Mollie Chapman with her mum Jane (University of Bristol / SWNS)

“She managed to see the days that we both got our GCSEs, A Levels and enrolled in university, and I think there was a part of us that thought she would see the day that we graduated too. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be the case for us.

Mollie said: “She passed in her sleep and found her place in heaven to be reunited with my dad after 19 years apart.”

Mollie crossed the stage in the University’s Wills Memorial Building with her grandma and auntie in the crowd.

Mollie said ''Mum knew I wanted to be a teacher and I know she’d be proud of me.

''It’s a really big achievement and she’s been a real inspiration to me. She’d be thinking ‘that’s my girl’, for sure.

“I have faced a lot of adversity in my short time on the planet, but I have never let that get in my way of achieving every single thing that I believe is within my reach - and if it’s not within my reach, I’ve got two angels who can give it a kick down to me to help me out.”

Prof Tansy Jessop, the University of Bristol’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students, said: “Mollie’s success is testament to her courage in the face of adversity. It’s not only her mum and dad who would be ‘insanely proud of her’ - we are too.

“We salute her determination and character and wish her everything of the best in her teaching career!”