Ripon student recovers from car accident to study medicine

Jenny Unwin celebrates with mum Sharon
Jenny Unwin celebrates with mum Sharon

A teenager who was inspired to study medicine while recovering from a serious road accident has won a place at Leeds University.

Jenny Unwin’s remarkable recovery has impressed everyone at Ripon Grammar School, who watched her overcome the accident, gain 11 top GCSEs and return to the school’s sixth form where today she celebrated gaining A*s in all of her A Levels.

After three years of study, she achieved top grades in biology, chemistry and English literature and will read medicine at Leeds University.

Jenny, from Burton Leonard, was cycling home from her job in a garden centre when she was in collision with a car. She underwent surgery and five months of treatment and rehabilitation in hospital.

Ripon Grammar School invested in adaptations to the school buildings to ensure she could return and join the sixth form.

Jenny, 19, said: “Straightaway after the accident I knew I wanted to come back to school, I wanted to do A Levels and I wanted to get the career I thought I was capable of.

“I love this school. They have been amazing, so supportive, and I have really enjoyed sixth form. All my teachers were amazing but Mrs Griffiths, the sixth form coordinator, in particular was so supportive to me and my family. I needed to get three As and didn’t think at all that I’d done this well, so, yes, I am proud.

“Before my accident I wanted to be a vet and did a lot of work experience. But afterwards I saw there were so many interesting opportunities in medicine and spending five months in hospital opened my eyes to the health service. I’d been healthy before and had never had cause to use it so was quite oblivious really.

“The care I received from the doctors and especially the nurses was really inspiring. It made me want to give something back. I love the personal contact and communication you can have with people but I don’t know yet what I will do after my degree.”

Leeds University have reserved a fully equipped studio in student accommodation for Jenny, who now has her own car and enjoys swimming in her spare time.

Reflecting on how the accident changed her life, she said: “The hardest part was watching my family have to go through what they went through. But without a doubt it’s the support of my family and friends that got me through it.”

Paying tribute to Jenny, retiring headmaster of Ripon Grammar School Martin Pearman said:

“Jenny has been a remarkable student, utterly determined with a tremendously positive attitude. She has been supported by her wonderful family and friends and we, at school, tried to do whatever we could to ensure she had everything she needed to achieve to her very best.

“She thoroughly deserves this success. I am delighted for her and wish her all the very best for the future.”