Darlington College graduate Hollie Thornton has been accepted to study a degree in veterinary physiotherapy after securing a triple star distinction in BTEC applied science –  despite being diagnosed with an allergy to pet hair.

“I’ve always wanted to work with animals since I was very young,” said Hollie, a former student at Carmel College, Darlington.

“We had hamsters, rabbits and a dog and I never had any problems but during my final year at college I noticed that when I played with my dog and two cats I would come out in hives and get snuffley.”

A blood test revealed that Hollie had a severe hypersensitivity to animal hair and fur which doctors said could be a danger to her health.

“I was devastated,” said Hollie.  “I’d worked so hard and now I thought I was going to fall at the last hurdle and loose the chance of my dream career.

“I’d originally wanted to be a vet but wasn’t making the grades at AS level that I needed so I researched vet physiotherapy and saw that you needed a human physio qualification to get onto a course.”

Despite being one year into her A levels Hollie left school and enrolled on a sports therapy and rehabilitation course at Darlington College.

“The year long course was great and I learnt loads about anatomy and physiology as well as it boosting my confidence and giving me new skills but it didn’t count towards any UCAS points which I needed to help me get into a university,” said Hollie.

After speaking to career advisors at Darlington College Hollie was advised to take a two year BTEC course in applied science which would help with her application for higher education.

“I was really disappointed at first that I needed to spend another two years studying before I could get to university but I got great support from my tutors and even managed to secure work experience at my local veterinary practice which really jelled with my uni application,” said Hollie.

“I finally thought everything was coming together then I got the news about my allergy and I was devastated.

“Being a veterinary physiotherapist means I would be treating pets and working animals including race horses and greyhounds even farm and zoo animals so having an allergy was a big problem, but after speaking to my GP I discovered that as long as I was sensible, wore latex gloves when dealing with any animals and took my medication as and when I needed it I should still be able to pursue my dream.”

Hollie will start her BSC (Hons) course at Warwickshire Agricultural College in September.

“I’ve overcome so much to get here it still feels a little unreal,” added Hollie. “But I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of all of my tutors at college.

“I’m so happy that I kept going over the four years and my parents are so proud that I’m finally getting to where I want to be.”