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Grandad's A-Level French mark is just what the doctor ordered

By Michelle Smyth

A grandfather and retired doctor showed the 'young ones' how it's done by scooping a top grade in his A-Level French exam.

Brian Shanks (68), originally from Bangor but now living in Larne, decided to go back to school two years ago to fulfil a lifelong dream of learning French.

Brian, who was the was the oldest person to receive A-Level results in Northern Ireland yesterday, was delighted to hear he had obtained an A grade.

Having first been introduced to French in 1964 while studying for his O-Levels, which are now called GCSEs, Brian said he had always dreamed of coming back to the language.

Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph, he joked that some of his classmates at Belfast Met's Millfield campus were young enough to be his grandchildren.

"It was great fun and a real laugh learning with these young people. They are full of enthusiasm and it was fantastic to see them so eager to learn and starting out in their careers.

"There was a real camaraderie between us and we all supported each other. I hope they also received good news today," he said.

Despite successfully coming through his medical degree at Queen's University and working as a GP for many years, Dr Shanks said his French A-Level which he completed over two years, was "challenging enough".

"My lecturer Janet Seaton is fantastic, and we also had exposure to native French speakers through language assistants which helped a great deal.

"I'm going to Strasbourg in September and I cannot wait to converse with the locals."

Belfast Met's assistant CEO and director of curriculum, Justin Edwards, said: "We are thrilled for Brian and it looks like he has set a great example for the rest of our 3,000 A-Level students.

"Belfast Met is a keen advocate for Lifelong Learning and we don't believe that education should suddenly stop when someone leaves school, college or university.

"Every one of us should be thinking about learning a new skill or refreshing our existing ones."

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