Josh’s Symmetrical Parking Lot

Josh is no longer doodling in class!

From time to time we have the opportunity to celebrate the entrepreneurial achievements of one of our students.

A few weeks ago we wrote a profile on Mary, who had successfully grown a ‘Pick-Your-Own-Farm’ business from scratch. This week we’re taking a look at another success story from within our school system, its a young lad that’s the talk of the playground, as he’s controversially, transformed a hectare of land on the edge of town into a perfectly symmetrical car park.

Joshua is in his 2nd year at Bry More and has always shown an interest in Diversification.

Although students at Bry More usually specialise in more niche Agricultural practices, Josh has always been fascinated by the endless possibilities that a piece of land contains. A bright, talented student who has a reputation for creating fantastic works of art during break times, Josh has spent the last year working on designs for a project that might seem a little odd for a young man his age.

“I’ve always really enjoyed drawing. Whether its doodling in the back of an exercise book or taking a pencil and ruler to some graph paper, I find the process helps me deal with my condition. Drawing symmetrically has been something that’s always come naturally to me – although my Mum initially discouraged it, after a while she could see that it was something that I had a particular skill for.”

When he was 5, Josh was diagnosed with Autism. 10 years ago, this condition was understood less than it is today, as a result he wasn’t given the best teaching suitable to his needs. Outside of the classroom he appeared to be like any other student, sociable and happy, but inside the class room he was quiet and uncommunicative.¬†Whenever he found a particular problem or exercise difficult to deal with, he would often escape into the back of his work book and simply choose to doodle symmetrically for as long as he could get away with.

“The whole time I was meant to be learning, I was often just drawing. I guess I got away with it because I was always quiet and looked like I was always concentrating really hard – because I was!”

After a series of bad exam results, Josh was taken out of his school and relocated to Bry More where he could better apply his particular set of skills. Within weeks of joining the school, teachers began to see why he was failing and more attention was henceforth paid to him during lessons. Sure enough, Josh’s grades increased and with it his enthusiasm for a new project, only made possible by the tragic loss of his Grandmother.

“Nan was always really kind to me. Whenever I stayed over she would give me more pens and paper than I knew what to deal with! Dad told me I was always her favourite, that’s why I inherited the house from her instead of him. He told me that I was best off selling it and putting it into savings, but when I looked at the house, I saw something different. I saw a giant blank canvas, a huge sheet of paper that I could draw on to my heart’s content.”

When Josh presented his idea to his parents, they were initially sceptical, but after he explained the potential for profit that the car park could make, they were soon won round. Hundreds of people already booked parking for Liverpool Airport, just a short drive from his Grandmother’s home, why couldn’t he simply design a new one that would be closer and more convenient?

“Mum didn’t like the idea of demolishing Nan’s house at first, but she couldn’t deny that the business plan made a lot of sense. When it came down to it, she was the one to push the plunger on the detonation and I’ve never seen her so happy. Then came the part that I was looking forward to, covering it all over in tarmac and laying down the paint for my car park.”

Its been a busy year for Josh, with the tragedy of his Grandmother’s death and the building of his new business, but its one that’s seen him develop from an amateur doodler to a young professional who has never been happier.


Mary’s Pick-Your-Own Success

Our Mary’s Picking Up A Storm!

We’re fortunate to have over 600 talented students enrolled here at Bry More.

Each one of these exceptional kids has a passion for Agriculture which they exhibit every day in their theoretical and practical classes. Every now and again we’re proud to shine a light on a student who has gone beyond what is expected of them and achieved something amazing, inside or out of¬†school time. This month we’re going to be focusing on Mary Ashelbeck, who has not only started her own ‘Pick-Your-Own’ Fruit enterprise but has also used the IT skills that she has learnt in school to market her business online.

Mary is in her 3rd year at Bry More, studying Plant Diversity, Business Enterprise and Fruit Management.

She won’t mind us mentioning here that she has struggled in her subjects at Brymore because of severe dyslexia that she has had to deal with throughout her educational life. Having grafted hard to pass her GCSEs, Mary surprised her parents by asking to continue her education. Her parents, both of whom work in the world of IT, had assumed that she would want to get out of education as soon as she could, however Mary evidently felt otherwise.

“I’d been told all my life that I ‘struggled’ with school work and that ‘some people just aren’t cut out for academia’. The sheer feeling of accomplishment that I felt after I passed all my GCSEs is hard to describe here. I felt like I’d proved everyone wrong: my teachers, my parents, even myself. So when it came time to choose what I wanted to do next, going into further education felt like the only option that was really open to me.”

After completing her first module at the school, Understanding Berries, Mary fell in love with the idea of creating her own ‘Pick-Your-Own’ experience. She had dim childhood memories of picking Strawberries with her parents, but remembered how ramshackle the farms always felt:

“My parents are both really fastidious people, everything has its place. I love the outdoors and wildlife, but I also appreciate things being in order. I started to dream of creating my own ‘Pick-Your-Own’ farm where the consumer experience was a lot cleaner and more aesthetic. By branding all the cartons and providing the customers with the opportunity to purchase accompaniments that compliment the fruit, I’ve found a way of enhancing the ‘Pick-Your-Own’ experience and give my customers an excuse to share their creations online.”

Mary’s ‘Pick-Your-Own’ Farm opened at the beginning of the school term in September, after she successfully secured financing from her parents. After reading through her 30-page proposal, which included several investment options in addition to aggressive plans for franchising, they had ‘no choice’ but to say yes. Since then, Mary has been carefully balancing her business responsibilities with her school life – not an easy task for a 14 year old!

“Sometimes it can be difficult to see where the school work ends and the business work begins. So much of what I learn in school is applicable to my business, that I’m often adapting and tweaking my plan in response to what I’ve learnt. I’m just happy that I’ve created something that others can enjoy!”