Bridestowe based surf fanatic , 16 year old Annie Westlake, is the latest top young athlete from the region to join Plymouth Studio School,  the new specialist sports academy on-site at the University of St Mark & St John (Marjon) in Plymouth.

Annie, who has been surfing since she was five, recently took third place in the National Youth Surfing Championships at Newquay in the under 18s Longboard category and has her eyes firmly on becoming a sports physiotherapist in the future.

The state-funded Plymouth Studio School, which is opened in September 2015, offers a unique curriculum for 14-19 year olds who want to combine academic focus with high sports performance or to get a head-start on a career in sport.

Annie trains with her dad, John Westlake, a former surf champion who, with his father, founded Alder Sportswear- a local surfwear business which brought  boardshorts and the latest in high tech surf gear to the region 50 years ago.

Annie, who is a Qualified Lifeguard is studying biology, psychology and P.E A levels at Plymouth Studio School, as well as taking part in the High Performance Sports Programme which is helping with her surfing ambitions.

She  explains, “It’s fantastic to be able to study for the qualifications I need for my sports career but also be part of the school’s  High Performance Sports Programme.

“This means I have my own personal training programme designed to help me with balance and upper body strength, as well as working with Olympic sports psychologist and Head of Sports Performance, Jon Rhodes, doing things like yoga and meditation for focus.

“It’s amazing to be able to include this level of training in my school day, to have all the facilities we need on-site and to be surround by other sports students.  We really encourage each other to push ourselves and achieve our goals.”

Annie joins students at Plymouth Studio School from across the region who are already competing at national or international level or representing team GB in their age group,  including Tavistock based Taekwondo World Champion Tate Budge, Modern Pentathlete Kay Bryson, Plymouth divers Matt Dixon and Jody Powell-Tuckett, Cornwall based Leander club swimmers Joe Tibbetts and Lily Parsons and Looe based rowing hopeful, Elizabeth Stacey who recently missed out on the GB time trials by 0.8 second.

Students recently moved into the school’s new ££4.2 million building, which includes a High Performance Sports Zone, state-of-the-art sports monitoring and testing equipment and a gym, complete with Olympic lifting platforms and a laser shooting range for Modern Pentathlon.  Students also have access to the world-class sports facilities on-site at Marjon, rated 4th best in the UK.

Head of Sports Performance, Jon Rhodes comments, “It’s amazing for students to get this level of support at a state school and to be able to be able to combine their personal training with their schoolwork.

“We’re looking forward to helping to mould the next generation of Olympic athletes for the region and to training the next generation of sports professionals to work in the health and life-style sector.

A total of just 100 Year 10  and Year 12 places are available for entry in September 2017.  Those interested in setting up a tour and appointment should contact Plymouth Studio School on or visit


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