I was educated at a comprehensive school (state-funded school) in a small seaside town in Wales. Then I went to Oxford University. This is how I got there.
I was always good at school, so when I was in sixth form (aged 17), my mother encouraged me to apply to Oxford (thanks, Mum!)
I didn’t think I could get into Oxford. Only the very brightest students in the country went there. I told the head of my school sixth form I was considering applying and he said, “Forget it. People like you don’t get into Oxford.” By that he meant people from ordinary unprivileged backgrounds.
But I did apply, and I studied hard for the entrance exam, and I was offered a place at Oxford to study Physics.
And I learned one of the most important lessons of my life – that the world is full of people who say you can’t. And if you listen to them you’ll come to believe that the world is divided into doers and losers, rich and poor, clever and stupid, and that you’re in the poor, stupid, loser category and can’t ever change.
But the world isn’t like that. It’s not divided into categories, except in the minds of people who believe it is. So you need to find other voices to listen to – your own voice if necessary.
And you must never believe anyone who tells you that you can’t do something. Because you can.