Mr Ashmore by Tinchy Stryder

After years of hating maths, the young musician found a teacher who sparked his curiosity. In fact, the lessons were so good that Tinchy didn't want them to end.

Let me tell you about this man, Mr Ashmore. He taught me maths at St Bonaventure's in Forest Gate, East London. I was in Year 9, so I was 14. When I was in Years 7 and 8, I didn't enjoy maths at all. The classes were so long and annoying, but I always knew I was OK at the subject - I just wasn't interested. It wasn't until Mr Ashmore became my teacher that I really started to enjoy it.

His approach was different from the other teachers. Totally different. The dude was stern, but at the same time you could speak to him. He made you feel like there was a line that you should not cross, so you didn't. He was strict if he had to be, but everyone was getting the attention they needed and he had fun with the class.

He made us understand how important maths is and he taught it so, so well. I'll tell you how he taught it: he broke it down. He broke it down to the simple things. You'd have a big, fat equation and he'd section it off to make it doable. Even before you took on the equation he gave you confidence. He made you think: "I can actually do this, I know I can." He instilled that belief in me. He did more for me than just teach me maths; he made me want to go to school.

I wasn't normally a talkative kid in class, but I didn't mind sticking my hand in the air in Mr Ashmore's class and giving it a go. He got it out of me. I can't remember ever before feeling like I didn't want a lesson to end, but somehow he made me feel like that in maths. I was actually in a rush to do my homework - can you believe that?

Mr Ashmore spoke to you as if he knew you. He was friendly. You'd be confident enough to try to answer questions but you would never be so cocky as to mess about in his class. He had that level of respect. He barely ever raised his voice because he didn't have to - he had a glare that did all the work for him. He struck that balance so well.

When you walked into Mr Ashmore's class you instantly got the sensation: "OK, it's school time now." But that didn't mean it couldn't be fun. It's hard to explain. It was just cool.

I've been back to St Bonaventure's. When I was younger it felt like the biggest place on Earth, but when I went back again it was like: "Woah, that playground doesn't look so big any more."

Mr Ashmore wasn't in that day, but I'd love to see him again and let him know that he really was my favourite teacher. I owe that man and I won't forget it.

Tinchy Stryder was talking to Tom Cullen. He supports the National Lottery Awards, celebrating the UK's favourite lottery-funded projects. For more information, visit

Great strides

Tinchy Stryder

Born Kwasi Danquah III, 14 September 1986, Accra, Ghana

Education St Bonaventure's School, Forest Gate, East London

Career Songwriter and performer. Has twice topped the UK singles chart and has released three albums to date with a fourth due later this year. Also chairman of Takeover Entertainment

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