Aston's Story

I was thrown out school when  I was 13.  I was horrible!  Believe it or not I was a bit of a boff, before.  I was never in trouble before year 9.   In year 10 I did like a trial at High School and I lasted 8 days.  8 days, and they said ‘Nah, we don’t want you.’
   
You know, you’re in this environment, and there was a lot of drugs when I was growing up, and  violence.   I was doing drugs at the age of thirteen.   I was doing class A drugs at 14 years old.  I could have carried on down that route.  I had a girl who I was at school with, the same age as me, and she was involved in a drugs case and nearly got three years in prison.  And  you get stuck in that rut, and if you stay in that environment it becomes normal.  

Longlands was my escape route.  It gives you a break.  You just want someone to show you that there is a life outside of what your life is.  You can’t push a thirteen year old kid.    But I definitely think you can show them that there is a life outside what they are doing.  They might not choose to follow it now, but just showing them that there is a life just shows them there is a path.  It clears the path.  Definitely.  That’s what saved me. 

Julia was . . .   Julia was Julia.  The horses are great but it’s the people around horses that are the thing.  She’s just very open, and she’ll listen.   And she doesn’t judge.

I then dropped my days here to one day a week and I got some GCSE’s.  It was because Julia got me back on track that I could do it.  

Then I went to Pershore College and studied Animal Management Level three.  I got it – I got a merit.  And I was offered several places at Uni. 

Now I work at a big riding school.  I’m pretty much full time, I look after the horses, ride and school the horses, teach.  I enjoy the teaching.  And I volunteer here.

I can’t really say what Longlands would give all the students because I think it would give every student something different. Like one might want to come out here and do one thing, and some might want to come and sit and chill and forget about things.  It’s very mouldable, this place, it just suits people.  Does that make sense?  I don’t really know the words.
 
It works.  It is a good place.  There aren’t many places like this.
“Longlands was my escape route”