Having been written off as an under-achiever at school, Ashley Warner is proof that with the right support anything is possible.
Since graduating from BU with a BSc (Hons) Sports Development and Coaching Sciences in 2016, Ashley moved to Norway and launched his own business as a sports massage therapist and personal trainer. Last year he sold the business to one of Norway’s largest fitness chains and continues to work as a personal trainer for private clients.
Ashley said: “At school I was told that I would never get to university. I struggled with the academic side of things and was put into a group which followed an alternative curriculum, meaning that I only achieved three GCSEs. Being told that I couldn’t achieve something made me more determined to do it. I enrolled at college and spent three years working towards a sports qualification which would provide me with the points I needed for university.”
Having got into university - becoming the first in his family to do so - Ashley admits that it wasn’t plain sailing. He said: “I found it much harder than I had expected, to the extent that I failed my first year. However, at that point the university’s Additional Learning Support team kicked in and it was a real turning point for me. I was diagnosed as having dyslexia and dyspraxia and the team gave me the tools and support I needed to overcome the problems I had been facing. It was exactly what I needed.”
Ashley passed up the opportunity to take a placement year to focus on completing his degree, but was able to draw on the experience he had built up throughout college and university while working as a lifeguard, fitness instructor and leisure centre assistant.
He said: “Through my work and studies I began to develop an interest in rehabilitation - particularly how to help athletes overcome and manage injuries. I’d had my own experiences of coming back from injury and it also resonated with me because of what I’d had to do to overcome my academic challenges.”
Ashley’s move to Norway came about after meeting his Norwegian girlfriend - and now fiancé - while at BU. He said: “Starting my own business in another country was another steep learning curve but it provided me with some incredible opportunities. I have been able to work with the Nordic Football Academy and have just started working with a Bergen-based handball team. When I think back to my school days and compare it to where I am now, I struggle to put it into words but I am incredibly proud. I am also grateful for the support I received at BU. I hope that my story can inspire others to believe in themselves and break through the limits that other people can impose.”