Leeds & West Yorkshire

Mum who gave birth at 15 graduates with daughter watching on

Rachael Campey and daughter Lily-Rose Image copyright Rachael Campey
Image caption Rachael Campey said her daughter Lily-Rose was "smiling all day long"

A mum who was forced to leave school after getting pregnant aged 14 has fulfilled her dream of graduating with her "smiling" daughter watching on.

Six year-old Lily-Rose was "grinning from ear to ear" as she watched her mother Rachael Campey receive a degree in counselling psychology.

Miss Campey, 21, from Leeds, said the education system "gave up" on her when she became pregnant.

She said: "Everything I've worked through has been for Lily."

'That's my mummy'

Miss Campey, who graduated on Wednesday from Leeds Trinity University, said the ceremony was "really emotional".

"Lily was just grinning at me and said I looked like someone off Hogwarts," she said.

"They accidentally pronounced my surname wrong when I went onto the stage to collect my degree, and I heard her correct them and say 'that's my mummy'."

Miss Campey, who lives in Crossgates, said she had to leave school after becoming pregnant at 14 due to a lack of support.

Before getting pregnant, she said, she was "bounced around the education system" before being "thrown out of school".

She said she suffered mental health problems as a teenager, and was a victim of bullying.

At her lowest point, she attempted suicide.

Image copyright Rachael Campey
Image caption She said being a young mum was hard but she had been spurred to give the youngster the best possible future

"When I found out I was pregnant it kind of saved me. It gave me a new lease of life.

"I wanted to continue in education but they didn't take me seriously and there just wasn't the right support."

However, Miss Campey was eventually able to enrol at York College before she went on to university.

Image copyright Rachael Campey
Image caption While studying, Miss Campey said Lily-Rose would sit and do her homework next to her

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Miss Campey, who is now an ambassador for mental health project MindMate, said had it not been for a few "amazing individuals and her parents" she would have given up completely.

"Just because somebody says you can't do it doesn't mean you can't actually do it, because you can if you really want to."

Miss Campey, who has also been nominated for the inspirational individual award at the 2020 Yorkshire Choice awards, said she hoped to continue studying or become a public speaker.

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