By Bryce McGarel
A Northern Ireland actress who turned her back on a £100,000 a year role on teen soap Hollyoaks to become a midwife has now found herself out of work.
Lesley Crawford left a £100,000 a year acting job to become a midwife
Lesley Crawford, who played Laura Burns, left the Channel Four show in 2002 to go to Liverpool John Moores University.
Now the 25-year-old is one of thousands of newly-qualified midwives in the UK who is struggling to find work.
Ms Crawford, who is originally from Jordanstown but now lives in Liverpool, qualified with a first class honours degree in midwifery in September.
The Royal College of Midwives has said an extra 5,000 midwives are needed by 2012 if women are to receive the care they need.
However, despite this Ms Crawford and the majority of her fellow graduates have been unable to find work.
"My class all achieved high grades but, out of 25 graduates, only three have been offered jobs.
"How many other students at other universities are in the same situation?"
Since leaving university Ms Crawford has been working part-time as a home help.
She said that many other graduates are also having to turn their back on the profession in order to make a living.
"I have been told that it cost between £40,000 and £45,000 putting me through the course," she said.
"The fact that I am not working as a midwife means taxpayers' money has been wasted."
Despite so far failing to secure a job, Miss Crawford said she was determined to fulfil her ambitions and was not tempted to go back to her acting career.
"Studying to be a midwife has been the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is my dream job.
"I would never go back to my old life, despite earning a six-figure salary.
"There is an amazing feeling when you bring a new life into the world and you are the first person to introduce that baby to its parents. It is the most unbelievable feeling in the world."