“When my marriage fell apart, I lost everything. A single mum to four children, I knew it was now or never that I finally followed my dream to become a midwife.” 

Sarah Thistlethwaite is a Student Midwife studying at the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Burnley Campus. Her passion and determination for her future career is living proof that if you want something badly enough, you can go and get it.

She said:

"I’d always wanted to be a midwife, but lack of confidence and married life held me back and I worked happily as a supervisor in pharmacy. 

SarahWhen my first child Callum was born at Blackburn Royal Teaching Hospital, two lovely midwives took amazing care of us both. I was in awe of their job. It fascinated and intrigued me and that wonderful curiosity continued with my other sons Lucas and Jenson, and my daughter Ava, who was born at Burnley Teaching Hospital. 

All the midwives were simply brilliant, and with each birth my longing to become just like them increased tenfold.

By now my marriage had broken down, I was a single mum to four kids - retraining was my opportunity to rebuild my life, and I grabbed it with both hands.  

It was tough but I had fantastic support from friends and after an initial foundation degree course in Health and Social Care I was accepted on a three-year Midwifery degree course at University of Central Lancashire in Preston.

I couldn't have been happier. 

I get to support mums and their families during the most vulnerable and magical time of their lives. It is a challenging but rewarding job and when you hand baby over to mum and see her reaction it is priceless – something I never get bored of seeing.

It’s a blessing to be part of this huge event in their life. 

I qualify in August, and I can’t wait to get started.

Granted, it’s been a battle at times juggling four children while studying but I wouldn’t have had it any other way! I’m so proud I’ve achieved it, and so are they.

Being a midwife is not a job, it's a privilege, and one I will never take for granted.

While Sarah’s life changed as she prepared to become a Student Midwife, so did that of a stranger whose life she bravely saved. Her quick thinking resulted in a bravery award from Lancashire Police and a Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society Award. 

One Sunday morning I was driving over a local motorway bridge when I saw a woman standing on the wrong side of the flyover; obviously contemplating jumping. Instinct kicked in and I proceeded with caution before I was able to fling my arms around her and hold on for dear life. 

Despite her pleas, there was no way I was going to let her die. Thankfully, an off-duty police officer appeared just as her eyes rolled back and she went to fall and between us we managed to pull her to safety. We secured her on the floor until the police arrived and took her away.

It had been less than five minutes, but it felt like hours.

Once home, I reflected on the enormity of what had happened. My arms were so heavy it felt like I’d been lifting weights at the gym – but I just did what I thought was right. It’s in my nature to help.

Due to data protection, the police couldn’t give me her details, but they did assure me that she was safe and being cared for.

To my surprise I received a letter through the post inviting me to the Lancashire Police’s East Division Headquarters in Blackburn to receive a bravery award for assisting an officer. More recently I was presented with a Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society Award for voluntarily putting my own life at risk to save others.   

I was humbled (and shocked!) by both awards and certainly didn’t expect them. I was just helping someone, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat."