A single mother from Croydon who narrowly escaped death just a year ago has graduated with a first class law degree.

Chloe Livingston, 29, enrolled at Birkbeck three years ago, working full time in a bank whilst raising her nine-year-old son, Nehemiah, single handedly.

Towards the end of her second year a near fatal head on collision threatened to derail her studies, but she recovered after a brief break.

Yesterday Ms Livingston graduated with a first class degree, with her son by her side.

Ms Livingston said: "I thought that because lots of Birkbeck students work during the day, the lecturers might go easy on us, but that definitely wasn’t the case!

"Birkbeck were really supportive and gave me the adjustments I needed to complete my assignments. Second year nearly broke me, but I had too much to lose not to pull through.

"If I’d gone to university at eighteen, I don’t know if I would have completed my course, or got a first. Now I’m wondering what to do with my evenings!

Ms Livingston always dreamed of being a lawyer or a doctor, but fell into a career in banking on leaving school. She never lost her desire to study, but was reluctant to return to life as a cash-strapped student.

“It wouldn’t have been fair to subject my son to that lifestyle," she added.

Inspired by her parents, who both studied as mature students, Ms Livingston pursued the evening study model so she wouldn't have to give up on her job to get the education she always wanted.

Fortunately, her employers were understanding, while friends and family helped out with childcare so she could attend her classes.

Despite being just six when his mum started her course, Nehemiah was a big supporter.

Ms Livingston said: “Some days I would be glued to the dining room table working and he’d come in and say ‘are you ok mummy? Do you need anything?

"At first, I think he thought that university looked too much like hard work!” she remembers, “But when we were walking home from school the other day he turned to me and said ‘I’m so proud of you mum, you’re going to be amazing.’”

Founded in 1823, Birkbeck, University of London, is a respected research and teaching institution and London's only specialist provider of evening higher education.