International hockey player from Burnley visits hometown college
A FORMER England hockey star from Burnley has revealed how she was bullied at school for being talented at sport.
Charlotte Hartley, 27, said she lost some of her hair after she developed mild alopecia.
She spoke out during a visit to Blessed Trinity RC College in Burnley, where she gave a PE lesson to Year 7 pupils and talked to Year 11 English students as part of their GCSE work.
The Sky Sports mentor said: "When I was at primary school, because I was good at sport, I got bullied. The bullying led to some hair loss – mild alopecia – but Charlotte admitted this bizarrely helped her.
“To be honest, it made me stronger. It’s not nice but it has all helped me to make me what I am today.
“I am sure if the bullies knew that was going to happen to me then they wouldn’t have done it.”
She overcame the setbacks and excelled at sport, finding her love for hockey thanks to Mansfield High School's PE teacher Lil Dykes, who was a former hockey player for Scotland.
It led to Charlotte having trials for England Under 16 hockey team aged 13 - but she also had trials for England Under 16 football team at the same time.
“I got into the hockey team while I only made the football squad – and so I chose hockey,” she said.
Over the next six years, and with the support of her mum and dad driving her all over, she competed for her country.
She won a bronze medal at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 and gold in the Sydney Youth Games.
Charlotte, who now plays for Burnley FC Ladies team, said: "We had funding and I went all over the world doing the sport I love which was great.
“The Commonwealth Games bronze medal after a penalty shoot-out, as one of the youngest members of the team, was a high for me but the year after I was dropped from the senior team.”
Charlotte instead went with the Great Britain youth squad to the Sydney Youth Olympics and won gold but, after that, developed an eating disorder.
“I got myself really fit to try and win my place back in the senior team and people said I looked well and it looked like I had lost weight.
“This played on my mind and I wanted to get fitter and I started to lose more weight and ended up having to pack in my international career and spent time with consultants.
“I was eating well and training again though within a year.”
Blessed Trinity’s English teacher Sarah Webb said: “Charlotte was inspirational and a lot of the students could relate to her.
“They were spellbound when she told them about her life and had plenty of questions to ask her about her career."