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Five more names added to growing Ashville sports Q&A guestlist – including a former Head Girl

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Five more names – including that of a former Head Girl – have been added to the roll call of stars from the world of sport participating in Ashville College’s online question and answer (Q&A) sessions.

Gallagher Rugby Premiership referee, Christophe Ridley

The latest high-profile sporting celebrities to be quizzed by pupils, staff and parents were former England and GB hockey captain Kate Richardson-Walsh, former international rugby union and rugby league winger, John Bentley, and Gallagher Rugby Premiership referee, Christophe Ridley.

They were followed by a session with former Ashville Head Girl, Becky Grey, who is now a BBC Rugby journalist, and Alastair Purssell, Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Head of Legal.

Previous guest speakers include Leeds United defender Luke Ayling, Bath Rugby Union players Joe Cokanasiga and Zach Mercer, former England international netballer, Anna Carter, and Harrogate Town manager, Simon Weaver.

The live video specials were launched in the middle of the first national COVID-19 lockdown by Ashville College Director of Sport, Dominic Bradburne. In these online events the audience not only get the best seats in the house, they also have the chance to grill the sportsmen and sportswomen about their careers, training regimes and inspirations.

Since their launch, a total of 12 Q&A sessions have taken place featuring 22 guest speakers and watched by a combined audience of nearly 550 people.

The first event of the new term featured Kate Richardson-Walsh, who made her international debut back in 1999. She subsequently made more than 350 appearances for her country, captaining her side from 2003 until 2016 – when she led the GB women to the Olympic gold medal.

She is England’s most capped female hockey player, and in 2014 was awarded an MBE.

Her Ashville appearance was followed by a rugby double-header featuring John Bentley and Christophe Ridley.

John Bentley is an English former dual-code international rugby union and rugby league footballer who played in the 1980s and 1990s, including winning the Premiership with Newcastle and a British and Irish Lions series in South Africa in 1997. Christophe Ridley is the youngest professional referee in England and is officiating in the Six Nations 2021.

Former Head Girl, Becky Grey

Their appearance was followed by another double-header of Becky Grey and Alastair Purssell.

Becky Grey was Head Girl in 2011/2012 and is now a BBC Rugby journalist.

A recent highlight of her career was reporting on the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final in Tokyo. Alastair Purssell began his career in a sports consultancy before retraining as a sports lawyer. He is now Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Head of Legal.

Mr Bradburne said: “I’d like to say a big thank you to Kate, John, Christophe, Becky and Alistair for sparing their time to take part in our ongoing Ashville sports Q&A sessions, which are proving to be a huge success, and something well-known names from the sporting world are keen to take part in.

“The pandemic has put a temporary halt to competitive sports, and hopefully they will return sooner rather than later. In the meantime, it’s brilliant being able to tap into the talent and experience of our guest speakers.

“It was great hearing from all five, and the pupils particularly enjoyed hearing from Becky, especially as she is a former pupil and is carving out a successful career for herself in the world of sports journalism.

“Video conferencing has become the accepted norm, and we see no reason not to continue with these online Q&A sessions, where sports players can be ‘beamed in’ to Ashville from anywhere in the world.”

Ashville sports Q&A participants are:

* Pat Brown, England T20 cricket international, and Ed Barnard, Worcestershire cricketer

* Zach Mercer and Joe Cokanasiga, England Rugby internationals

* Kerry-Anne Hastings, Scotland Hockey International, and Sarah Bertram, head coach of Durham University hockey

* Anna Carter, former England netballer and Netball Super League coach, and Jessica Shaw, England international netballer

* Ollie Payne and Nick Park, England Hockey international players

* Ben Coad, Harry Brook and Jordan Thompson, all Yorkshire cricketers

* Michael Dawson, former England footballer and Nottingham Forest captain, and Simon Weaver, Harrogate Town manager

* Jenny Meadows, 800M athlete and World Championship medal winner

* Luke Ayling, Leeds United defender

* Kate Richardson-Walsh, GB Olympic gold medal-winning hockey captain

* John Bentley, England Rugby Union and British Lion, and Great Britain and England Rugby League player, and Christophe Ridley, England’s youngest referee and international official

* Becky Grey, former Ashville Head Girl (2012), who is now a Rugby journalist for the BBC; and Alastair Purssell, Wolverhampton Wanderers Head of Legal

For more information about Ashville College, please visit www.ashville.co.uk or call 01423 566358.

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