Old boy named top student by his Oxford college

Ashley-James Turner (2001-2008), has been named Student of the Year by Mansfield College, Oxford. Ashley-James, who graduated last summer, read Geography and was presented with his award at the Mansfield College Association’s AGM.

The association commended him for his “friendliness, cheeriness and warmness that is characteristic of the Mansfield Community”. The citation acknowledged his achievements with the college’s Boat Club and his ability to motivate the rowers. “It is no exaggeration to say that through his persistent kindness, openness and hospitality, Ashley-James Turner has helped to make Mansfield an even better place than it already was,” the citation concluded.

QE Headmaster, Neil Enright, attended the lunch at which Ashley-James received his award: “I had the pleasure of teaching him Geography A-level. I remember him as an exemplary student and a very able and enthusiastic geographer. His ability to analyse information and see patterns was outstanding for a Sixth Form student and set him apart from his peers. It was with great pleasure, but no surprise, that I learned that Ashley-James had been named Mansfield’s Student of the Year.”

Of the latest intake of Mansfield undergraduates, 84% came from the state sector (the highest proportion of all Oxford colleges) and Mansfield has jumped up to 12th place this year in the Norrington Table, Oxford University’s ranking of its undergraduate colleges.

Ashley-James paid tribute to the support and guidance Mr Enright gave him when selecting his college. “Mansfield is one of the smallest colleges in Oxford, but undoubtedly the right college for me, fostering a fantastic sense of community within the setting of a beautiful castle and open quad… After just four weeks of rowing I was selected to row in the college first boat, where I remained for three years, winning Oxford blades at the end of my first year.” Becoming Boat Club Captain in his second year was a great honour and, although a gruelling experience involving 5.30am starts and three-and-a-half hours of daily rowing and training, it was “an incredibly satisfying experience” in which he took “Mansfield to the highest position it has ever been on the river”. He was elected club President in his third year.

Ashley-James has been travelling in Asia since his graduation and is hoping to return to a career in environmental consultancy. “I developed an interest in the subject whilst undertaking a seven-month research project in Iceland looking at fluoride emissions from the volcano,” he said. “The research is being used by the Icelandic Fluoride Group, and I have been told it might be used by the EU to inform fluoride safety standards in the future.”