Shelby Holmes is one of the first travellers to go to Oxford and will read English literature
A Gypsy who works in an amusement park is off to Oxford University after gaining outstanding A-level results, making her one of the first travellers to make it there.
Shelby Holmes, 18, head girl at St Brigid’s School in Denbigh, north Wales, has been travelling the UK outside term time all her young life.
But now she will have to put down new roots after her place to read English literature at Trinity College, Oxford, was confirmed.
Miss Holmes, 18, achieved two A* in English Literature and religious studies and a B in history.
Shelby is from Towyn and on top of her studying she has a part-time job in the family run amusement park, Pleasure Land.
But she wasn’t out celebrating last night when her results came out, as she had to be back at work calling out bingo numbers.
‘It is great news, I had to get three As to get into Oxford but, because I got two A*s, thankfully I’ve still got in,’ she said.
‘These type of results are extremely unusual for travellers and to go to any university is very rare for us.’
‘My family and my mum have been behind me all the way to go to university and during my exams,’ she said.
‘I won’t be out celebrating unfortunately, I’m working in the arcade calling the bingo numbers.
‘I’ve been saving money for university and me and my family take fair equipment to the Chester fair and I help build the rides and mind the children all day.’
Shelby travels all over the UK with her family and has set up a fair in St Giles in Oxford several times.
Very proud: Student Shelby Holmes being congratulated by dad Michael and mum Kim
‘I’ll be moving to Oxford University in October and will still go travelling with my family in winter but not in term time,’ she said.
‘I am really excited to go to university, I’ve been to Oxford a few times now with the fair, I’ve become quite familiar with it.’
One of Shelby’s proudest teachers is head of sixth form Stuart Ayres.
‘We have had great results, but we are especially proud of Shelby as she is a traveller and works so hard,’ he said.
Sky high: Thanks to her great results she’ll be studying English Literature at Oxford University, one of the first travellers to do so
‘We feel like we brought her up because she has been with us for so long and done so well, this is the kind of place you can do something like this.
‘She is unlike anyone else, we usually send someone to Oxford or Cambridge every year and Shelby has done really well to get in.’
A spokesman for the National Gypsy Council said Shelby’s academic success was great news.
‘More and more gypsies and travellers are getting into education these days,” said spokesman Joseph Jones.
‘That being said, gypsies and travellers are still the bottom of every grades table/graph.
‘We have a number of gypsy traveller academics but there needs to be more.’
Fun of the fair: Shelby Holmes with big sister Navenka, who both work at the amusements and move around the country
Shelby’s place at Trinity College, Oxford, is a sign of changing times at one of the world’s greatest academic institutions.
A University of Oxford spokesman said: ‘Oxford works incredibly hard to ensure candidates from non-traditional and under-represented backgrounds are not put off applying here and undertook more than 1,500 outreach events last year alone.
‘We are very pleased that for 2012 entry we have continued to attract students from schools and backgrounds that have little previous experience with Oxford.
‘We will continue our programme of outreach and recruitment activities in Wales and hope more academically talented Welsh students will consider looking across the border to Oxford.’