One of the country’s leading comedians Romesh Ranganathan has surprised an East Midlands student during a mentoring session with The Access Project (TAP), by dropping in on the video call to congratulate him for focusing on his studies during COVID-19. Ben Madeley is studying maths at Shirebrook Academy in Derbyshire.  Currently, in year 11, he hopes to go on to study at Oxford or Cambridge.  

As part of a fundraising event for charities that support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, Ranganathan joined Ben and his mentor at TAP Adam Joseph-Kerr while they took part in a video call. Ben is a huge fan of Romesh Ranganathan and was taken aback and delighted when he appeared on the call. 

Romesh told him: “I have no doubts that you’re going to achieve your ambitions and you’re going to go on to achieve really great things. I just wanted to say to you I wish you the very best of luck with that.” Ben was delighted when Romesh offered Ben the opportunity to go to one of his tour shows, when they start up again, and to meet with him afterwards. 

Ben spoke about how TAP was helping him to keep up with his studies during the Coronavirus lockdown: “The Access Project has been incredible, I have a tutor called Michaela and she’s brilliant, we do maths every week pretty much…it’s helping me to keep a schedule together.” 

The Access Project helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds get to top universities through a unique combination of personalised tuition and in-school mentoring. Students with TAP are four times as likely to get to an elite institution as similarly disadvantaged peers. During COVID-19 TAP’s programme has moved online and nearly 500 students are currently receiving tutorials and mentoring sessions via video link. 

Ben’s mentor, University Access Officer Adam Joseph-Kerr said: “Ben typifies a lot of what The Access Project students are about, incredible predicted grades and he was on track to do really well in his GCSEs. But also his personality is quite typical of access project students so he’s really ambitious and he knows he wants to study at a top university.” 

The Surprise video call with Romesh Ranganathan was filmed for a fundraising evening organised by the charitable foundation Impetus which aims to transform the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds by supporting a range of charities working with young people. 

Ben’s tutor Michaela Wood, who is also Senior Volunteer Coordinator at TAP, said everyone close to Ben is extremely proud of him: “It has been my absolute pleasure to tutor Ben these past 2 years; he’s always enthusiastic and makes tutoring easy and a joy. He is very hardworking and is achieving high grades, but not once have I seen him take any of this for granted. I know Ben will go on to achieve great things.”

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