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The University of Southampton

Surprise guest at Graduation

Published: 6 August 2013

PhD Chemistry graduate Christianne Wicking got a big surprise the night before her graduation at the University of Southampton – news that her sailor father John Wicking had flown back to the UK from Panama to be at the ceremony.

John, who is serving on HMS Argyll, got permission from his captain Tim Neild for two weeks holiday to join in the celebrations. "I had no idea, what was happening so I was over the moon," she says. "It was wonderful to hear his voice on the telephone and hear him say he was actually in Southampton."

The proud father says he couldn't miss out on the chance to see Christianne receive her doctorate: "Being at sea means you miss out on so many important family occasions but I'm so grateful to the Royal Navy for giving me the chance to see my daughter become the first doctor in the family."

In 2012, John was branded Her Majesty's saltiest sea dog by the Daily Mail after completing 33 years of service with 13 years at sea. First Sea Lord Sir Mark Stanhope said he probably held the record as he had spent more than 5,100 days at sea in both submarines and surface ships.

Christianne, who was christened on board HMS Revenge inn 1986, took her first degree in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Plymouth before deciding to take a PhD at Southampton with Dr John Langley.

PhD Chemistry graduate Christianne Wicking and sailor father John Wicking
Proud father
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