LYR mentor Emily, volunteered to race the Royal Parks Half Marathon after hearing her former mentee Ashley, had also signed up to race. Emily has supported Ashley throughout her A Levels and university applications. She's now donning her running shoes as they support each other through a final challenge. 

Ashley learnt to row with London Youth Rowing (LYR) whilst attending Brampton Manor Academy in Newham. In 2014, aged 14yrs, Ashley was selected to participate in the Breaking Barriers pilot programme, now called, ‘Break in’. Ashley graduated from the programme in 2015. After completing her GCSEs, she moved to Hammersmith Academy in west London to study for her A Levels. She continued rowing as part of the Fulham Reach "Future Blues" initiative and was interviewed by the BBC during the Boat Races coverage that year.

She has since been part of the latest Breaking Barriers project, ‘Break Out’, aimed at 16-19yr olds with a focus on supporting employment pathways. 

Ashley said:

“I am pleased that I said ‘yes’ [to Break Out mentoring] as it didn’t fail to meet my expectations and in fact, exceeded them! I truly believe that Break Out mentoring has been very successful for me, as it’s enabled me to build on myself as an individual who recently completed sixth form and adequately equipped me to go confidently into the next stages of life.”


Above: Ashley taking part in Breaking Barriers session task

Above: Emily winning Silver at the World Rowing Championships, 2013

Ashley has secured an unconditional offer to study Fashion Management and Marketing at the University for the Creative Arts. She is currently working as a Sales Assistant at Gap’s flagship store during a year out of education, along with taking on other CV building activities like volunteering and internships. 

The latest challenge she has set herself is running the Royal Parks Half Marathon to raise money for LYR. Her Breaking Barriers mentor, Emily, has agreed to run it with her as a final show of support before she transitions into the wider world. 

“We thought it might be a cool way to finish of our mentor-menteeship by running it together,” said Emily. 

Support Ashley's fundraising, here.
Support Emily's fundraising, here

Emily has recently started working for KPMG after being part of the Government Operations Team, Commonwealth Games Delivery Unit at DCMS. She rowed for Canada for six and a half years, and is a World Silver Medallist. When she retired from Team Canada in 2016, she came to the UK to attend Oxford University as a graduate student, and while she was there she rowed for Oxford in the Blue Boat in the 2017 Boat Race.

Emily said:

“I'm really pleased with the progress that Ashley has made. She has been accepted to four universities, and she just messaged me this weekend to let me know that she has a job with Gap for the summer, so hopefully she can start to save towards paying for university. This is really good news


Aside from just the application process for university and jobs that we have worked on, I have also encouraged her to open up a savings account with a bank so that she can start to learn to manage her money a little better. She admits to not being particularly good at budgets and this will be important moving forward.”

Ashley was thrilled with her given mentor, believing that the careful pairing made them the ‘perfect match!’ Ashley said, “She [Emily] supported me and always reminded me what I am actually capable of and as a result increased my self-belief.”

“I would totally recommend the Breaking Barriers programme to others as it has helped make me step out and understand my abilities and become more resilient,” said Ashley.