Jonathan Gilmour, Inspirational Cambridge Student With Muscle Wasting Condition, Gains First

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A student with an incurable muscle-wasting condition, which leaves him unable to get dressed or eat without help, has received a first class degree from Cambridge University.

Jonathan Gilmour has had Duchenne muscular dystrophy since he was seven, and began using a wheelchair aged 14. He was persuaded by his mother to apply to the university after receiving outstanding GCSE results, and was awarded the university's prestigious Theological Studies Prize twice.

After receiving a First in Theology and Religious Studies, he is now studying for a PhD in inter-faith Relations and lives at St John's College with a full-time carer and his assistance dog, Uri.

Despite his condition, which means he has limited use of his arms and needs help to carry out basic tasks such as getting dressed and eating, the graduate aims to raise money for people like him and help to find a cure. He supports the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, along with fellow St John's students, as the main ambassador of the fundraising drive, and won the campaign's Young Person of the Year award for 2010/11.

Upon arriving at Cambridge in 2005, Gilmour was provided with specially-adapted student accommodation, but says he was in a chair, but more physically mobile than he is now.

"I used to be able to go out at night a lot more, so the experience at the time was really like that of any other student," he told MSN.

Speaking to Cambridge News, the student added: " The fact that I’ve been able to come here and study at one of the world’s top universities is living proof that the barriers of a disability can be broken down.

“It’s a life-limiting condition, but living with it is about making the most of things. We hope that our efforts will support the campaign’s work to maintain the quality of life of other people who have muscular dystrophy, in the same way that they have helped me."

Professor Stephen Hawking offered similar words of wisdom to people with disabilities a week ago while he offered his support to a work experience programme, telling students to "concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well and don’t regret the things it interferes with”.