North East Connected

Seven Oxbridge offers among Ripon high flyers

High-achieving students from a North Yorkshire school are heading for the country’s most prestigious universities with seven securing Oxbridge offers.

The seven, from Ripon Grammar School, have been accepted on a range of courses from computer science to music, geography to theology and veterinary medicine.

One of the students, Jonathan Tanner, has secured his offer for Oxford University aged just 16.

Jonathan, of Ripon, will follow in his parents’; footsteps if he gains the A* and two A grades he needs to read computer science and mathematics at St John’s College. His father Mark, Bishop of Berwick, and mum Lindsay, who runs Ripon Community Link, both read maths at Oxford.

Jonathan, who is a year ahead for his age after being allowed to skip Year 5 at primary school, said: “The only difference is that most of the rest of the upper sixth can drive already. When I went to Oxford for my interviews they said they would put a picture of me behind the college bar saying ‘don’t serve this person’.”

Former head chorister at Ripon Cathedral and BBC Radio 2 Chorister of the Year 2013, Joy Sutcliffe will join Jonathan at Oxford University on gaining the grades to meet her offer to read music at St Hugh’s College.

A grade eight singer by the age of 14, Joy, 17, of Littlethorpe, started boarding at Ripon Grammar School this year.

“I wanted to board so I could concentrate even more on studying and also because it makes you more independent and teaches you how to look after yourself before going to university,” she said.

Five students have been offered places at Cambridge University: Mary Cox, 18, of Kirkby Malzeard, and boarder Ross Sullivan, 18, to reach at Gonville and Caius, to read geography and natural sciences respectively; head girl Emily Evans, 18, of Bishop Monkton, to read history at Emmanuel College and deputy head girl Katie Veitch, 17, of Ripon, to study theology at Clare College after a gap year working for the charity Project Trust.

Francesca Haldane, 18, of Harrogate, has secured one of only 70 places at Cambridge to read veterinary science with an offer of two A*s and an A from Sidney Sussex College.

Joining her in the veterinary world is Hannah-Olivia Foster, 17, of Kirby Hill, near Boroughbridge, who has a choice of offers from Surrey, Nottingham and Liverpool universities.

Performer Josh Belward has a chance to turn his favourite hobby into a career after winning a place at prestigious Bird College to study professional dance and musical theatre.

Josh, 18, of Ripon, who last year starred as Billy in the school’s production of Anything Goes and will be Mr Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer in March, has been acting, singing and dancing with Stagecoach Harrogate since he was nine.

“Of the three disciplines of acting, singing and dance, dance is probably my weakest so I’m really happy with the offer from Bird College as I will be able to work on it and develop it there.”

Josh, who had to do a three-hour dance audition, monologues and singing to secure his offer, said: “It’s quite brutal because they tell you there and then if you’ve got through. They are looking for potential so they must have seen something in me that they could work with.

“Performing has always been a hobby so to make the step from that to being able to do it as a career is amazing.”

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