Smiler crash victim joins hundreds of peers at Buxton graduation

University of Derby class of 2015 awards ceremony held at the Dome, the Buxton Campus.
University of Derby class of 2015 awards ceremony held at the Dome, the Buxton Campus.

A glittering graduation ceremony was held for hundreds of students at University of Derby’s Buxton campus last week.

Student Vicky Balch, 20, who lost a leg in The Smiler crash at Alton Towers in June, was in attendance at the ceremony on Saturday.

University of Derby class of 2015 awards ceremony held at the Dome, the Buxton Campus.

University of Derby class of 2015 awards ceremony held at the Dome, the Buxton Campus.

She said she was ‘delighted’ after walking to the stage in the Dome to collect her certificate.

Vicky, who studied international spa management, said: “I never thought I’d be able to walk up to the stage.

“Learning to walk again is such a long process, so it was amazing to be alongside all my peers.”

Vicky has even more to celebrate, though, after forming a relationship with former student friend, Dan Halton.

University of Derby class of 2015 awards ceremony held at the Dome, the Buxton Campus.

University of Derby class of 2015 awards ceremony held at the Dome, the Buxton Campus.

She said: “I am still coming to terms with my amputation, but things are looking good.

“As for the future, I’m not sure. I’ve been offered some modelling jobs, so perhaps I’ll do that.”

In the wake of Vicky’s graduation she has appeared on television show Loose Women, as well as featuring in national newspapers and magazines.

Professor Kath Mitchell used her first speech at the event to highlight the achievement of Buxton student, Harriet Webster.

University of Derby class of 2015 awards ceremony held at the Dome, the Buxton Campus.

University of Derby class of 2015 awards ceremony held at the Dome, the Buxton Campus.

Harriet, who was awarded a BA (Hons) in events management, gained a management position with Derbyshire Christian charity Valley CIDS.

She said the post was her dream job, which the organisation created for her because of her experience and qualifications.

Harriet said: “I was amazed that they had not only offered me employment but created a brand new dual role within the charity.

“I started at the beginning of June and I love the exciting challenges it brings. Every day is different and full-on but it’s very rewarding being able to use my skills and knowledge in all areas of retail and events for such a visionary charity.”

Harriet added: “I’m from Buxton so studying my degree at the Buxton campus meant I could live at home and still work part time within the local area.

“I also had a meeting with Olivia Ramsbottom, lecturer in events, and her commitment and enthusiasm encouraged me to finish my degree.”