AN ABUSE victim who overcame a traumatic childhood to become a record-breaking memory man has been inspiring school pupils thanks to support from a financial advice firm.

David Thomas – whose memoir Tell Me Why, Mummy became a Sunday Times bestseller – found his way into Guinness World Records after memorising the mathematical formula Pi to 22,500 places.

He recently visited St Edward’s School in Oakdale as part of a tour made possible by Dorset financial adviser Strategic Solutions.

Mr Thomas told students: “People value excellence. People look to those people who are the best at what they do.

“If you want to get the most opportunities and want to be make the most money, then you be the best. Even if you’re a welder, be the best welder you can be and then knock on the door of Rolls-Royce and say ‘I want to be a welder’.”

He told students that his childhood was marked by “violence, alcohol and abuse”.

“By the time I got to 10 I was going badly wrong and I started getting into crime,” he said.

“I’d go out at night, break into shops, steal a lot of gear and sell it in town.”

He was expelled from school and got a criminal record after an incident which left him in hospital. “I broke into a shop at three in the morning. The police caught me, cornered me in a dead end alley and I came out fighting and I nearly killed a police officer with an iron bar. They kicked me unconscious,” he said.

He later landed a job as a part-time firefighter. “That saved my life. I was taking drugs, I was drinking very heavily, I would have been dead in 10 years,” he said.

“All of a sudden life changed and became amazing.”

He kept failing exams that would have qualified him for a promotion, but after seeing a man on TV who could memorise a pack of playing cards, he borrowed a library book about memory. Eight months later, he entered the World Memory Championships, and his feats of memory eventually gained him an appearance on Oprah.

Now he tours the world speaking and showing people how to improve their memory.

Strategic Solutions sponsored a tour which took in schools in Dorset and Devon, with the intention of inspiring students to focus on their exams.

“Strategic Solutions staff share my philosophy and have invested their own hard-earned cash to help make this roadshow happen,” Mr Thomas said.

During his visit to St Edward’s, Mr Thomas worked with students from years nine to 13 and provided advice on using memory techniques to retain learning over time. Staff also took part in a workshop after the school day had finished.

Headteacher Michael Antram said:“I would like to extend a huge thanks to Strategic Solutions for coordinating and funding this special educational tour. David is a very inspirational person and we were delighted to welcome him to St Edward’s School. His insights were fascinating, and will have helped our students to harness the amazing power of their brains, in developing skills for life."