Top golfer warns Perse students about making wrong life decisions
9 Jan 2018
From top golfer to a prison sentence before getting his life back on track, John Hoskison gave Lower Sixth students a compelling talk about his journey to redemption.
Back in the early 1990s, Mr Hoskison was one of the leading players in the country, captaining the England team in the European Team Championships and playing for Europe against the USA in PGA Cup matches.
He told students about how he had made it to the top of the game, having become a club professional at the age of just 17 before enduring a crisis of confidence after earning the right to play alongside golf greats such as Sir Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros on the 1979 European Tour.
As a result, he explained how he had learned from the experience and perfected a reliable swing and worked his way back up the rankings before accepting a job as club pro at West Surrey Golf Club.
From there, he became Surrey PGA captain and went on to enjoy success with the national team.
Mr Hoskison recounted how his life changed in 1994 when he broke his own rule and had a drink after a match. He hit and killed a cyclist on the way home and was sentenced to three years in prison.
However, a few months after being jailed, he received a letter from the widow of the deceased cyclist in which she offered him forgiveness and hoped he would survive prison.
He told the students about how tough life was behind bars, an experience he went on to write about in his book Inside.
Following his release, Mr Hoskison continued to play golf at a high standard, having competed on the European Seniors Tour and finished third at the 2012 British Seniors PGA Professional Championships.
However, he also began speaking to youngsters at schools around the country to talk about the dangers of taking unnecessary risks, using his own story as a salutary tale.
It was Mr Hoskison’s sixth visit to The Perse to speak to pupils and he said getting this message across remains extremely important to him
He said: “Every single person is going to be put in a similar situation – it could be using a mobile phone while driving a car or speeding to impress friends – but whatever the situation, they’ve got to learn there are some mistakes in life they can’t afford to make.
“I’m a normal person and I’m similar to these pupils at The Perse. I had a good education and my talk makes them aware of the consequences if you make the wrong decisions.
“It’s a personal story and I think they find it interesting. Looking back, I wish I’d had people talking to me about their life experiences because it would have made me aware of different things.
“I often get charming letters from pupils and staff and sometimes the children go home and speak to their parents about the talk. They write to the school and say ‘this is terrific’ about the impact it’s had on their child.
“It’s good to have that kind of feedback, otherwise I wouldn’t have the confidence to carry on doing this.
“I know it’s helped some people stay away from making bad decisions and it’s that which makes me feel better about what happened, so it’s a very important process for me to keep doing it.”