Will’s journey from Garstang Youth Council to Oxford and to top law firm


Former youth counselor Will Atkinson has just completed his law studies at the University of Oxford. He now wants other students from the North to apply to Oxford as well.

The 22-year-old thanks Garstang City Council and his Lancashire school for putting him on the path to success.

Will became a youth advisor in the Garstang Youth Council, a support group for the city council.

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Will, (first row left), celebrates with other students after graduating

The family had faced test changes after his parents’ divorce and he, his mother and his brother moved to Garstang. Then, a few years later, her mother was diagnosed with cancer. But his school. Ripley St Thomas Cof E Academy in Lancaster, encouraged Will to apply for a foundation year program at Lady Margaret Hall College in Oxford after his A’levels. The course provided a bridge between the A’levels and a diploma. That year he was so successful that he secured a place to continue his undergraduate studies at Oxford and won a college scholarship which helped fund his law degree.

Will said, “The Youth Council (Garstang) has really boosted confidence. Oxford involves talking to different people and new people and expressing your ideas – it has been helpful. I continued to volunteer at Oxford. I worked with a charity called Oxford Hub. I was their publicity agent. I worked at Lancaster Homeless Shelter and I worked at Cancer Care on Garstang High Street. It allowed me to get involved in the community and volunteer work in general.

He believes that these experiences have in turn opened new doors for him. Lynn Harter, the former Garstang city councilor who founded the Garstang Youth Council, said: “I am delighted with his success. He was an early year of the Garstang Youth Council. proud of him.”

At Ripley St Thomas, his teachers convinced him that this was a unique opportunity to apply for the Foundation Year at Lady Margaret Hall and helped him get advice on how to apply. Will said: “In sixth grade I hadn’t really thought about Oxford.”

Will (center), pictured with his mother Angela and brother Oliver in front of Lady Margaret Hall

He has since returned to his old school to talk about his experiences at Oxford, which included boxing, rowing and football for his varsity team, as well as the challenge of academic work.

He said: “I think Oxford can be what you make of it. Don’t be afraid, don’t feel inferior because you are from the north. There is the image that Oxford is full of posh people from the south, but there are still a lot of people with similar backgrounds. Oxford wants people like us to come to make the place more diverse and I think it’s important to become more diverse. It will bring new ideas into a very, very traditional space. “

Will added: “I think Oxford is just developing your critical thinking.”

This summer, Will obtained a 2: 1 in Jurisprudence (Law) and gained experience working with the large international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF). The firm offered him an internship contract and in the fall of 2022 he will be sponsored for a one-year legal reconversion internship before spending two years as a trainee lawyer.

Will, pictured at Ripley St Thomas School in Lancaster

In the meantime, he looks forward to spending three months in Budapest this fall as an intern for a charity that helps migrants. He said: “It’s a volunteer role. They do language lessons and diversity training.”

Her advice to students considering applying for a degree at Oxford University is to remember that personal statement is the first hurdle and to make sure you demonstrate a genuine (obvious) interest in your topic and remember at the interview stage, breeders look for someone who is “curious, sympathetic and doesn’t know everything”.

Will’s mother Angela Kitchen, a retired math teacher, said she and her grandmother Eileen Kitchen, also from Garstang, were very proud of her accomplishments. if they don’t fit, I think it’s always good to try. ”

She added that it was good that the Ripley School also received a thank you, as the staff had been so helpful, putting Will on his trip to Oxford. be in an independent school. I just think it might encourage other kids. “

Will pictured inside his Oxford college

* The Year of the Lady Margaret Hall Foundation is described on the college’s website as “a fully funded one-year course for students from under-represented groups. Through a combination of academic and personal support, the course enables students to realize their academic potential. ” For more details on the year of foundation, see here The Lancashire Post is more dependent than ever on your digital subscription to support our journalism. For unlimited access to Lancashire news and information online, you can sign up here.

Will (right) pictured with his younger brother Oliver (a former Garstang youth mayor and now city councilor) and their grandmother Eileen Kitchen
Lady Margaret Room