Ross's battle for university dream

NOTHING was going to stop talented musician Ross Gooding from chasing his dream of studying at university. Despite suffering terrible injuries in an assault outside his school, enduring months of hospital treatment and even teaching himself after his A-Level course was cancelled Ross has battled through to get to the university of his dreams.

NOTHING was going to stop talented musician Ross Gooding from chasing his dream of studying at university.

Despite suffering terrible injuries in an assault outside his school, enduring months of hospital treatment and even teaching himself after his A-Level course was cancelled Ross has battled through to get to the university of his dreams.

PAUL GEATER reports.

ROSS Gooding has always had a talent for music - he plays several instruments, sings, and is never happier than when he is on stage performing.

But to achieve his aim of winning a place at the Bath Spa University he has had to overcome obstacles that would have stopped anyone less determined in their tracks.

Three years ago he was savagely beaten up as he left Westbourne School in Ipswich by a group of youths who were not pupils there.

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The attack left him with serious injuries - and it is only in the last few months that he has finally been able to get around without crutches.

He said: “I've had five operations to deal with the injuries. The last one for the time being was last September - that put me in Ipswich Hospital for ten weeks.

“That was very tough at the start of the final year before A-levels. I had a lot of catching up to do when I got back to school.”

During his stay in hospital he kept in touch with school work through hospital teacher Ruth Pickover who worked with his Westbourne teachers to ensure he was able to carry on studying.

Ross said: “To be honest I really didn't feel much like studying when I was in hospital, but it was good to stay in touch with my school work and not completely lose touch.”

Now the 18-year-old from Burke Close is able to relax and prepare for his new life.

He said: “I never really thought I would get to university, especially after all the problems of the last three years.

“I've never really considered myself as an academic person - but I've got into Bath and that was always my first choice.

“It offers the only course that allows you to study more than one instrument and I was very keen on doing more than one thing.”

Ross's main instruments are the saxophone and clarinet, but he also plays several others including the piano and is also a keen singer.

He plays in a band and is a regular at live music jam sessions at the Grinning Rat pub in St Helen's Street in Ipswich.

At school he has been a regular performer in concerts and musical shows - he was one of the stars of Grease when that was performed at Westbourne two years ago.

And one of his first priorities when he gets to Bath will be to find a band to play with there.

Throughout his ordeal Ross was supported by family and friends and he is quick to play tribute to them - especially parents Richard and Anita.

He said: “Everyone has been wonderful and very supportive. They've all encouraged me through everything.

“It was good to know I had such good friends after the assault - they helped me through it and came to court to give evidence.”

Two youths were arrested following the incident. One was sentenced to three months in youth custody and the other was given a warning by police.

Ross's success has delighted everyone at Westbourne. Deputy Head David Thomas said: “We're all so pleased that he has got to university after all he has been through.”

And the head of the sixth form, Lesley Stubbins, said everyone wished him all the best - although his infectious enthusiasm would be missed around the school.

She said: “He is such a happy chap. Whatever happened, he is always smiling - Ross is a real one-off.”

Now he has had his place at Bath confirmed, Ross is looking forward to continuing his studies - but he knows this is only the next step for him and he has firm ideas on becoming a professional performer and a music teacher.

He added: “I have to go back into hospital to have my pins taken out. Hopefully that will be the last time - then nothing will stop me!”

PANEL - Ross's battle

Savagely beaten up outside school

Endures five operations - the final one at the beginning of his A-levels saw him in hospital for ten weeks.

A-Level music course is cancelled and replaced with Performing Arts.

With the help of music teacher Adrian Hopgood, known as Slim, he teaches himself the history of music, achieving a C grade which is good enough to get him into University.

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