Blockbuster Holyrood debut for Army veteran GCU graduate

28 February 2019

GCU Veterans Champion Jim Castle, SCQF CEO Aileen Ponton, GCU veteran and graduate John Templeton, GCU DVC Academic Professor Valerie Webster and Dr Ima Jackson

GCU Veterans Champion Jim Castle, SCQF CEO Aileen Ponton, GCU veteran and graduate John Templeton, GCU DVC Academic Professor Valerie Webster and Dr Ima Jackson

Former Scots Guardsman John Templeton took centre stage at a major lifelong learning event at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday (February 27) where he told dignitaries that graduating from GCU as a mental health nurse had changed his life.

His inspirational speech at the Scottish Credit Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Partnership Parliamentary Reception - Recognising Lifelong Learning in Scotland got rapturous applause and special congratulations from Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

The Cabinet Secretary told him: “That was a very inspirational speech. Many congratulations on your degree and thanks for your dedication to improving mental health in Scotland.”

John’s speech also received praise from event keynote speaker Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work Derek MacKay, host MSP Gordon MacDonald, MSPs Annie Wells and Alison Harris, and SCQF Partnership CEO Aileen Ponton.

John, 50, is a shining example of lifelong learning success and he bravely shared his tough life journey with the audience – speaking about his struggle with PTSD, attempting to take his own life, becoming homeless and almost losing his family after leaving the Forces.

Despite the major setbacks, his story had a happy ending when he graduated as a mental health nurse in November and is now well on the way to a promising career helping others battle mental illness.

John was joined at the event by GCU Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Valerie Webster and the University’s Veterans and Armed Forces Champion Jim Castle.

Jim said: “All the work we do with the military and veterans here at GCU very much fits in with the SCQF Partnership lifelong learning recognition. I have been working with the Partnership for a couple of years.

“It was great that John was asked to speak at the event. He is very inspirational and a prime example of lifelong learning success.”

GCU researcher and lecturer Dr Ima Jackson was also invited to the event as she is working closely with SCQF Partnership on a pilot project, launched last year by Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills Jamie Hepburn MSP and led by GCU, to set up Scotland’s first migrant skills recognition and accreditation hub.

Dr Jackson was joined by Dr Kemi Adekosan, Scottish Funding Council Policy/Analysis Officer, at the event. Both women had attended an earlier meeting in the Parliament with Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie, who launched research project Enhancing Transcultural Participation (ETP), led by Dr Jackson, at GCU to mark Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on Wednesday, February 6.