Former British professional tennis player and Old Millfieldian, Andrew Castle has thanked his former school, Millfield in Somerset, for changing his life and awarding him a full tennis scholarship when he was 12 years old.
Andrew, who commentated on his 16th Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final for the BBC this summer, began playing tennis at Millfield as a Somerset county player in 1974. David Kemp, Millfield’s Head of Tennis, then invited him to play each Monday with the best players from across the region.
Andrew says, “Millfield changes lives. Whether it’s the unique experiences it offers or the people it attracts, there is something special about the place. Looking back, Millfield gave me the chance to play and improve, and I’m not sure where else this could have happened. Millfield was the bridge from childhood to early adulthood in tennis terms. Without Millfield I may not have been good enough to continue playing - tennis is an expensive sport to play and they gave me a chance to progress. I will be forever grateful to Colin Atkinson CBE for giving me a scholarship to Millfield and to Major Sam Brancker who was the coach for many years and a guiding light for me and my family.”
“At Millfield, I learned that effort brings reward and that real achievement can sometimes be as simple as not giving up. If you or your child have a talent and the chance to attend Millfield with the help of a scholarship or bursary, take it.”
The time Andrew spent on court at Millfield helped him to the top of the junior game in the UK. He gained a sports scholarship to study in the United States, after which he turned professional becoming British No.1 and playing in the Davis Cup.
Highlights of his career were winning matches at the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, as well as playing for Team GB at the Olympic Games in Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1982. Andrew says his biggest regret is having a match point and losing in the 1989 Australian Open Mixed Doubles Final.
Andrew has also had a successful career in broadcasting: he was on the GMTV sofa for 10 years and now hosts his own show on LBC Radio. In the year to 31 August 2018, Millfield awarded £5.7 million in scholarships and bursaries. Under new Headmaster Gavin Horgan, the school has launched an ambitious pledge to increase its transformational bursaries by threefold and aims to lead the way on social mobility in the independent sector, cutting fees by 5-10% over the next five years. Former British number 1 Andrew has said that Mr Horgan’s pledge will lead to countless life changing opportunities like his.
Headmaster Gavin Horgan says, “We believe it is our purpose to make our education available to everyone, regardless of their background and financial means. As the largest co-ed independent school in the country we are in a position to be able to lead on this and it is the right thing to do. Our pupils benefit enormously from the diversity in our community, learning about differences in cultures, backgrounds, religions and means, and that cannot be taught in the classroom. We want to see more talented young people, like a young Andrew Castle, come to Millfield to fulfil their potential.”