'I did it for Emily'

A VETERINARY nurse who promised his baby daughter he would succeed at his college course shortly before she died is celebrating after achieving a prestigious diploma with distinction.

When Steven Docherty's three-month-old daughter Emily died from a rare congenital heart defect half way through his course he thought about giving it all up.

But, after promising Emily he would finish his studies, he has gone on to not only complete the course but achieve a distinction for his Diploma in Higher Education in Advanced Veterinary Nursing – making him the highest qualified veterinary nurse in the region today.

When Steven's wife Claire, 32, fell pregnant suddenly he admits they were a little panicked but excited about becoming parents.

But after their 20-week scan revealed the baby had a serious condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, the couple were given the option of terminating the pregnancy, putting the baby through open heart surgery or letting her die naturally after the birth.

The couple, who moved to Driffield six years ago, opted for open heart surgery which Emily underwent one week after she was born last June.

"It was horrible but we wanted to go for the surgery to give her the best chance of survival," Steven said.

The couple stayed at Birmingham Children's Hospital for the six weeks Emily was there recovering from her surgery before she was allowed home.

"She was doing really fantastic, she really was, and we were anxious to get her home and be proper parents," Steven said.

But despite putting up a fight for the next month Emily suddenly fell ill at the family home on Westgate and was rushed to Hull Royal Infirmary where she died last September.

"I just felt like my whole world had collapsed.

"I couldn't be bothered to do anything. I put on a lot of weight and got to a point where I couldn't be bothered but I promised Emily I would finish it," Steven said.

Former Sydney Smith School and Hull College student Steven spent almost three years working towards his diploma through a combination of distance learning and weekend seminars.

Steven, who works for Haven Veterinary Group in Hull, achieved his Higher Education Clinical Veterinary Nursing qualification from Myerscough College, in Preston, before moving on to the diploma course run by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

He was proud to be able to share his graduation day at Myerscough with his wife and baby girl and has just returned from a formal graduation ceremony in London after surprising himself in achieving his diploma.

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