BORN six weeks premature and fighting the deadly disease menigitis, Ashleigh Parry’s parents were warned she would be severely disabled with restricted intelligence.
A deadly brain bleed caused further trauma and Ashleigh, then just a few months old, was diagnosed with the life-threatening illness hydrocephalus, commonly known as water on the brain.
Eighteen years on, the ecstatic teenager has defied all odds by securing a place at Oxford University.
Mum Denise, 45, explained: “We were warned that she would be severely disabled. She had her first brain surgery at nine weeks of age.”
Ashleigh’s schooling was disrupted by hospital visits and 11 surgical operations. In her GCSE years she missed a total of 18 months’ schooling.
But Oxford had always been her dream since she was just eight-years-old.
Ashleigh said: “I haven’t let it hold me back. I have always pursued my academic fulfilment.
“It would have, at times, been easy to set an end to my dreams, especially during my GCSE years.”
Paying tribute to her mother Denise, the teen continued: “It was due to my mother’s determination as well as my own that I continued and I am so grateful to have been able to do so.
“I am thankful to my school, my teachers, friends, family, especially my little sister, Amy, for her continuous support and kindness.”
Denise, of Amanda Drive, Hatfield, contacted The Association of Hydrocephalus and Spinabifida, ASBAH, for help and advice when Ashleigh was 15.
Their involvement was the crucial turning point in the youngster’s life and she managed to return to Wakefield Girls’ High School at the beginning of sixth form.
Now Ashleigh, who notched up A*s in Latin, history and extended project, an A in English and a B in general studies, is one of just seven students to be chosen to study English Literature at Worcester College.