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Mother and daughter Denise and Amber Atkinson, who set up a child nurturing service for University of Suffolk parents, to graduate together





An 'inspirational' mother and daughter who set up a care room for parents at university will graduate together this week.

Denise and Amber Atkinson, the brains behind the baby nurture room at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich, are among 3,100 students to be awarded degrees this year.

The room provides a private place for parents to care for babies and toddlers, including feeding and changing, and contains all the necessary amenities.

Denise and Amber Atkinson set up the baby nurture room at the University of Suffolk. Picture: University of Suffolk Students' Union
Denise and Amber Atkinson set up the baby nurture room at the University of Suffolk. Picture: University of Suffolk Students' Union

Amber, who lives in Lavenham and studied English literature will be awarded hers today, while fine art student Denise, who lives in Hadleigh, collects hers tomorrow.

The 32-year-old rejoined university full-time in 2019 following the birth of her son, and raised the idea to the student council after being elected women's officer.

Denise, 69, helped her daughter decorate the room, assisted by her seven-year-old granddaughter.

Mother and daughter both started attending the university full-time in 2019. Picture: University of Suffolk Students' Union
Mother and daughter both started attending the university full-time in 2019. Picture: University of Suffolk Students' Union

Amber said: "It was an amazing time - three generations in the same room, helping provide a service to people who need it.

"The idea came as I struggled to juggle both a young child, uni work, and the student council, and wanted to set up a service to help others who could be in my position.

"I figured I couldn't be the only student with these concerns - I had to resort to breastfeeding in my car - so we decided to push through with it.

"It needed to be both functional and comfortable and I think it serves its purpose beautifully."

The nurture room creates a private space for parents to care for their children. Picture: University of Suffolk Students' Union
The nurture room creates a private space for parents to care for their children. Picture: University of Suffolk Students' Union

The room opened a few weeks ago.

Amber said she was immensely proud of the way it turned out.

The nurture room is open to both teachers and students at the university, although space must be booked in advance.

The room's mural was painted by Denise. Picture: University of Suffolk Students' Union (60097073)
The room's mural was painted by Denise. Picture: University of Suffolk Students' Union (60097073)

The mural on the wall was painted by Denise.

Amber said: "I can't thank everyone who helped us turn this into a reality enough, from the bottom of my heart.

"I may not have been able to benefit from it myself, but I'm glad its around for others in my shoes."

Amber was born in Las Vegas but moved to England 10 years ago, and originally enrolled part-time in 2017.

She finished work for her degree earlier this year, and has started her Master's in critical and creative writing with ambitions to become a teacher.

Denise, who was born in Cambridge but raised in the US, enrolled in 2019.

She runs an art studio in Ipswich where she displays her work, and will feature in exhibitions over the next year.

Denise said the two encouraged and inspired each other, and have won awards for their work.

She added: "Both of us were selected as finalists for the university's adult learners' award for helping bridge learning across generations.

"I was also short-listed for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries programme and served an internship at at the University of Suffolk teaching art workshops to other women.

“Collaborating on the baby nurture room as mother and daughter has been a wonderful way to end our university experience together. We are hopeful all student and staff parents enjoy the welcoming space."