Tears of joy as results flood in

JENNI McHALE emerged from the physics block clutching the envelope that contained the key to her future. She leaned pensively against a post, took a deep breath, opened it and burst into floods of tears.

"I've passed French," she said by way of explanation when she finally stopped sobbing. She was crying in relief. With an E in French, her worst subject, she had secured the grades she needed to study financial services.

"I'm going to work on the stock market eventually," she said. "But it would all have been blown out if I hadn't passed French."

At the Sixth Form College in Farnborough, Hampshire, yesterday, the queue of 550 jittery A-level students began to gather shortly before midday. As the doors opened for them to collect their results, many could not bear to look. They took their envelopes to open around the corner or behind the tree. Then came whoops, screams and a lot of hugging. And crying.

Seven students achieved five A-grade passes. Another 16 got As in four subjects. Samantha Pink got an A in maths even though she missed two questions on the back of the paper. Twin sisters Hazel and Helen Rogers, 18, gained nine A grades between them and, no, Helen said she did not mind getting a C for her fifth. "It was only general studies," she said, a subject all the students take.

Some were left with a nervous wait to see whether they will be able to take up the place they want. Matthew Cooksey, one of the first in the queue, found he had not gained the French grade he needed to go to Bournemouth. "They've got vacancies in clearing," a friend said encouragingly.

Yet to others, the results were simply academic. Alex Lang got three As and an E, but is abandoning academia for the world of work. "I've had enough of writing essays," he said.