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On the road to a key career

Sunderland Paramedics in front of Helen McArdle house

Stephen Hackles student paramedic

Stephen Hackles, student paramedic.

Young student paramedics are on the road to lifesaving careers, thanks to the support of a north east university and an international banking giant.

The students are set to be the first graduates from the University of Sunderland’s BSc Paramedic Science and Out of Hospital Care degree this summer. International bank Santander are supporting 23 paramedic students to take their C1 driving exam.  The exam, which cost over £500, is essential for paramedics moving into the profession, and Santander’s funding has been a huge boost to the students as they prepare to start their new careers after graduation this summer.

The University of Sunderland and Santander have had a partnership agreement since 2019. The bank fund a variety of initiatives creating enhanced opportunities for University of Sunderland students and graduates to make the most of their higher education experience and to improve their employability prospects.

Among the students benefitting from Santander’s support is Stephen Hackles, 28, from Sunderland. He says: “The funding from Santander allowed me to complete my C1 driver training which allows me to drive an ambulance and go on to complete the advanced driver training courses. During what has been a very difficult time for everyone, this funding has taken some stress away from us all on this course allowing us to focus on our studies.”

Gemma Ladley, 40, from Wallsend will start a new role with North East Ambulance Service in a few weeks. For the mum of four, the funding has been a real godsend. “As a mum, especially having the increased expense of everyone being at home full time, I had no funds to be able to achieve the C1 theory and practical test until Santander stepped in.  I am very thankful for their support.”

One young student who has really seen the benefit of Santander’s support is Joanna Shirley Holmes, 22, from East Boldon.  She says: “I am truly grateful to Santander and the University team for this money and really want to thank them. The funding is a wonderful way to help students like myself with the other things we need along with books, money for travel and other financial worries. Thank you to all who enabled this funding.”

Rhiannon Morgan, 29, North Shields, has no doubt how important the funding has been for her future career. “The C1 driving licence allows people to drive vans up to 7.5 tonnes, most Ambulance trusts have the heavier vehicles which require a C1 licence to be able to drive them, so without this we wouldn’t be able to drive most ambulances.” 

Mark Willis, Programme Leader for Paramedic Science and Out of Hospital Care, says: "C1 driving training is the entitlement that paramedics require in order to drive ambulance sized vehicles. It does not form part of university standard academic provision, but most ambulance employers look for this on application. Therefore, those who already posess this have a greater chance of employment. 

"This generous funding donation will greatly assist our paramedic students in seeking employment opportunities.” 

Scott Burnett, Relationship Manager for Santander Universities UK says: “Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK so we’re pleased that our funding was able to be redirected to where it is most needed at this critical time. 

“The Paramedic students are doing some fantastic work to contribute to the UK’s effort to combat the outbreak of COVID-19, so we’re delighted to support them in attaining the qualifications they need to take up their role and begin their careers.”

University of Sunderland

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