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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 17:39 GMT
Chip-shop owner trains as a doctor
Robert Lee with Peninsula School shirt
Robert Lee has earned a medical school rugby shirt
A former chip-shop owner has become the first student to win a place at Britain's newest medical school.

Robert Lee left school at 16 and trained as a chef, but never gave up his dream of becoming a doctor.

He quit his fish-and-chip business in Redditch, Worcestershire, and moved with his family to study at the University of Plymouth.

He received his offer from the new South West Peninsula Medical School just before Christmas, and became the first to write back accepting his place.

The school, which is being set up at sites in Devon and Cornwall, has been flooded with applicants.

Robert Lee in study
Robert Lee quit business to become a student
It is trying to attract students who do not have a traditional academic background.

It promises a new approach to training, with emphasis on clinical skills from day one.

Robert, now 25, who lives in Stoke, Plymouth, has been taking an access course for people returning to education.

Spokeswoman Lisa Snowden said: "The Peninsular Medical School has a brief to widen participation in medical education.

"Obviously Robert fits that profile very, very well.

Best present

"We are very pleased to have him."

Robert said: "I was absolutely over the moon.

Plymouth school building work
Work continues on the Plymouth teaching block
"It was the best Christmas present I could have hoped for.

"I think its absolutely brilliant for Devon and Cornwall to encourage more mature students with life skills, because I think that's a crucial part of being a doctor."

His wife, Stephanie, said: "It's going to be worth it in the end - five years of hard slog."

The new medical school - the first in the UK for 30 years - is under construction in Exeter and Plymouth.

An extension is to open later in Truro, Cornwall, where nurses will study alongside medical students.

The school is being established by the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth and the Open University, as part of a government strategy to train an extra 950 doctors a year.


Click here to go to BBC Devon Online


See also:

31 Oct 01 | England
Would-be doctors head west
16 Jun 00 | Education
Medicine places for poor pupils
05 Aug 98 | Health
King's forms medical supercollege
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