WHEN she first arrived in Bolton, Madi Richardson did not speak a word of English and was far from home.
She came to this country from Romania, aged five, for vital treatment on her arm and once here a battle began to enable her to stay.
Now, 17 years later, that frightened little girl is a confident young woman with the world at her feet after achieving a first class BA Honours degree in graphic design.
Madi, who lives with her parents Dave and Kath Richardson in Wythburn Avenue, Smithills, received her degree at a ceremony at the Victoria Hall, Bolton on Friday.
Wearing cap and gown and grinning broadly from ear to ear, Madi collected her degree watched by her proud parents and her two godmothers, Ingrid Battersby and Lillian Myerscough.
Now Madi, who is 22 years old, is searching for a job as a graphic designer and hopes to secure a position in London.
She said: “London is where all the jobs are and I would love to work there, even if it’s only for a short time.”
Madi studied for her degree for three years at the University of Bolton and said she was “thrilled” to get a first.
“I put a lot of work in so I had hoped I’d achieve it,” she said.
Parents Kath, aged 64, and Dave, aged 65, adopted Madi — who lived the first few years of her life in a Romanian orphanage after her birth parents could not care for her — after a long battle with the Romanian authorities.
Kath said: “We are so proud of Madi’s achievements. She has certainly worked hard to get to where she has.
“We could never have imagined she would do so well in life when we brought that tiny five-year-old here for medical treatment in 1996. All the credit goes to her.”
Kath and Dave set up and run the Good News for Romania charity which helps impoverished children and families in Romania.
They organise fundraising events to help boost the charity and each year help to fund a camp for children who would otherwise never go on holiday.
Last year Madi joined her parents on the camp — it was the first time she had been back to Romania since leaving as a small child and it was an emotional return.
Madi has now set up her own graphic design website for anyone wanting to find out more about her work at madalinarichardson.co.uk