Ashley was presented with his medal in front of his proud mother, Pauline Facey-Thompson, and his girlfriend, Lucy Budworth, plus members of LSBU’s Sports coaching and mentoring team who helped give Ashley the necessary financial and moral support he needed to make it to the last Paralympic Games. Ashley also brought back LSBU's first medal in ten years from the Table Tennis National University Championships in November 2016, securing bronze in the men's singles.
On receiving his medal, Ashley said: “LSBU contacted me but they didn’t tell me I would get a medal! I was really surprised!
“I’m so grateful to LSBU’s sports scholarship team because they made it possible for me to qualify for Rio. They put me forward for the Belgian Open beforehand and I qualified but had to pay to take part. I couldn’t afford the fees, so LSBU paid for me to go. Taking part in that event is what helped me to qualify for the Rio Paralympics. Without their help I wouldn’t have made it to the Paralympics.”
Niamh Digby-Bratton, Manager at LSBU’s Academy of Sport who acted as Ashley’s mentor in the run-up to qualifying for the Rio Paralympics 2016, said: “It’s my job to liaise with Ashley regarding table-tennis competitions and act as a point of contact between him and others, including his Lifestyle Co-ordinator at Sport England. We provide this service at LSBU for all 23 of our elite athletes who come here to study, assisted by a bursary or sports scholarship.”
Iain Killoughery, Senior Operations Manager at LSBU’s Academy of Sport, said: “In the Academy of Sport we manage our sports scholarship programme, which Ashley is a part of. We’ve had World Champions and Commonwealth medallists on our sports scholarship programme in the past and last year we had someone go to the European University Games.”
The ceremony finished with Prof. Phoenix playing a table-tennis game with Ashley. After holding his own at first, the Vice-Chancellor was forced to concede to the stronger player and as the ball was sent flying to a corner of the room he finished the game, insisting: “The table is too small!”