Mark Jones is partnerships manager at Destination Basingstoke. He has worked in Basingstoke for 27 years, including 13 years as editor of the Gazette and eight years as director of communications and fundraising at Ark Cancer Charity.

EVERYONE loves a good news story – and the news that former Basingstoke Rugby Football Club player Travis Clayton has been drafted by the Buffalos Bills in the NFL definitely fits the bill.

Travis’s story is the stuff that dreams are made of. A member of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Programme, the 23-year-old was selected as an offensive linesman despite never having played a game on the gridiron.

Anyone would have understood if Travis had taken himself off for a few days of celebration following his historic selection – but instead he headed back to Basingstoke, and visited his former school.

READ MORE: Ex-rugby player from Basingstoke drafted by NFL team Buffalo Bills

Positive role models are so important, particularly for young people, so it was heartening to see Travis return to Brighton Hill Community School, where he received a warm and enthusiastic welcome.

What a wonderful sight and experience for pupils and staff to see and congratulate Travis, who only seven years ago was a pupil at the school.

Headteacher Chris Edwards said: “As we walked around the school and I watched Travis swallow up numerous staff members in his enormous bear-hug, it was humbling to see just how much he valued the usually ‘unsung heroes’ within our school who never ask for recognition, but just go about their business, helping young people to excel.

SEE ALSO: 'Incredibly humbling for NFL talent Travis Clayton to visit his old school'

“He made a particular effort to pop into the medical room to thank the team in there, who bandaged him up and put him back together on numerous occasions, as well as our team of support staff who gave him guidance over the years to ensure he focused on his dreams.”

At 6ft 7ins, Travis walks tall but he is also clearly a grounded and well-rounded young man who is hopefully at the start of a long and successful career in the NFL. The fact that he returned to his former school to thank those who have helped him on his way speaks volumes about himself, how he has remembered the important role these people played in his development, and how he respects and appreciates the position of being a positive role model for the pupils who will follow in his footsteps as they aim to succeed in their future careers.

Let’s wish this impressive young man every success on what will hopefully be a marvellous and memorable sporting journey.