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.

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.

Former Ashville Head Girl Becky Grey (left) and Gallagher Rugby Premiership referee Christophe Ridley (right)

The live video specials were launched in the middle of the first national Covid-19 lockdown by Ashville College Director of Sport, Dominic Bradburne.

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 England’s most capped female hockey player Kate Richardson-Walsh who was awarded an MBE in 2014.

Her Ashville appearance was followed by a rugby double-header featuring former player John Bentley and referee Christophe Ridley, former Ashville Head Girl Becky Grey and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Head of Legal Alastair Purssell.

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, visit or call 01423 566358.

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