He was the boy with a stammer who won the hearts of viewers on TV’s Educating Yorkshire.
Five years on from the Channel 4 reality show Musharaf Asghar, known as Mushy, has returned to Thornhill Community Academy in his home town of Dewsbury to give a motivational talk to students and meet the teachers who helped him overcome his difficulties – principally English teacher Matthew Burton.
Along with delivering a half-hour talk, Mushy answered questions from the assembled students – including one about how he groomed his impressive beard!
Mushy, 21, is now a seasoned public speaker. Just a few weeks ago he was on stage at Wembley Arena addressing a 12,000-strong audience as part of WE Day UK – an event bringing together young people with a passion to have a positive impact on the world. Major names taking part included actress Lily Collins, philanthropist Holly Branson and BBC radio presenter Yasmin Evans.
Standing up at school assembly may not have proved quite as daunting, but Mushy said: “I was still nervous about it. The goosebumps were all there. It was interesting to see all the teachers again. The school has changed a lot – for the better!
“I have spoken at colleges and universities, but I was more nervous about this.”
He said: “I spoke about my trials and tribulations and how I overcame things over the past five years.
“I wasn’t sure whether I should address Mr Burton as ‘sir’! He was a father figure in school who gave me the incentive to overcome the speaking problems I’d had since I was five.”
Mushy said his talk had been well-received, joking: “I seem to have a fanbase out there. I also spoke to autistic youngsters at the school who are trying their best to achieve the best grades possible.”
As well as working as a motivational speaker, Mushy has a weekly podcast in YouTube talking to guests about the difficulties they have faced and providing tips and guidance to help people overcome their issues.
“The podcasts started last year,” said Mushy. “We are getting a massive audience watching each week and ringing in to ask lots of questions.”
Mushy, whose ambition at school was to become a pharmacist, said he was enjoying his current career as a role model for young people to follow.
And he said the Wembley Arena ‘gig’ had been another test of how far he has come.
“You either rise to the occasion or you crumble in front of 12,000 people,” he said.
The organisers said Mushy could use headphones – as he did at school – to block out other noise and allow him to concentrate on talking, but he said: “I didn’t want to have come all that way to do that. I have found my voice and now I want to use it.”