A doctor set to start working at the Royal Blackburn Hospital is the first to graduate from a prestigious scholarship programme.

Sarah Knowles, 32, from Darwen has graduated with a first-class degree from UCLan’s Bachelor Medicine Bachelor Surgery programme and will shortly start work as a doctor within Royal Blackburn Hospital.  

The former St Wilfrid’s Church of England Academy pupil was the first successful recipient of the Mackenzie Scholarship initiative created by the University in partnership with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

The scholarship is part of a wider, long-term UCLan strategy to attract and retain local doctors to NHS employment in the region.

Sarah felt inspired to pursue her ambition, having worked alongside doctors in a previous healthcare role.

She said: “When I was young, I never dreamt that one day I’d become a doctor. “However, having worked in a healthcare role previously I saw how varied and rewarding a career in medicine could be.

“The scholarship opportunity at UCLan was perfect for me because it meant I didn’t have to move away from my family and friends and obviously the funding provided by the scholarship was also a key factor.

“I started medicine aged 27 and at times had to put my life ‘on hold’ but it’s certainly been worth it. I’ve met fellow medical students from across the world and I’ve benefited by being exposed to different cultures and treating patients from various walks of life.

“I feel privileged to be the first graduate to have benefited from this scholarship. I was born in Blackburn and it’s an honour to now be working there as a doctor helping care for my local community.”

Associate Director of Organisational Development at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, Emma Dawkins said: “We're delighted to be welcoming Sarah to our team and congratulate her on achieving a first-class degree.

“We have many rewarding careers to offer at ELHT and hope Sarah's story will inspire others to consider working in healthcare.

“The Mackenzie Scholarship is one way we are supporting people on their career journey and it is exciting to see our first graduate from this programme. We see the development of homegrown talent like Sarah as hugely significant as we tackle health inequalities across Pennine Lancashire.”