• Ayrshire Daily News

Winning night for East Ayrshire at Sir Tom Hunter Challenge

St Joseph’s Academy was crowned the winner of the Sir Tom Hunter Enterprise Challenge last night after an ‘enthralling and passionate’ business pitch for their company, Musery.

Sixth year pupils, Raymond Houston and Joao Luis, devised a customised music therapy service for dementia sufferers.

Their powerful delivery, which wowed the judges, included a video of a dementia sufferer called Henry who after listening to music from his youth became animated and was able to communicate clearly with carers.

The team, who are committed to taking their business venture forward when they leave school this summer, also spoke passionately about their experiences with Dementia Scotland, Hansel Village and charity Dementia Friends.

Raymond and Joao said: “At the start of the night Sir Tom asked if we thought we could change the world and we didn’t put our hands up. We didn’t think we could change the world. But as the right progressed we chatted about what was possible and we know that we might not be in the business of changing the world but we are in the business of changing lives.

“By treating dementia sufferers respectfully we hope our business will enhance the lives of sufferers and their families bringing a new quality of life. To quote the great Oliver Sacks – music evokes emotion and can bring with it memory. It brings back life when nothing else can.”

Raymond and Joao received a trophy from Sir Tom and a prize of £5000. They have also been offered support from Sir Tom and the expert panel of judges to take their business forward.

And in an East Ayrshire one two, Doon Academy lifted the second prize of £2000 with their company Stand Tall.

The Stand Tall team of Korina McMahon, Chloe Meredith, Cameron Peters, Ben Willis and Bailey Wood, created an activity pack for use in tandem with the Mentors in Violence programme.

Their hard hitting presentation demonstrated the depth of their knowledge about the Mentors in Violence programme and the solutions they have created to address the difficulties some pupils experience with communication.

The team created a wooden game, based on the game Jenga, but each block had a phrase printed on it from the Mentors in Violence programme. This encourages pupils to open up and communicate freely with their peers and teachers.

Stand Tall is already a viable business and the team are working on orders received from schools within East Ayrshire.

As part of his commitment to mentor local pupils, entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter has, over the last four years, challenged youngsters to come up with ideas for products, innovations or businesses of the future.

This year the format was slightly different. A semi final heat was held in East, North and South Ayrshire where the top three teams of young entrepreneurs were selected to represent their local authority at the all Ayrshire final held at the Park Hotel in Kilmarnock.

Nine teams representing Ardrossan Academy, Arran High, Doon Academy, Loudoun Academy, Marr College, Prestwick Academy, Queen Margaret Academy, St Joseph’s Academy and St Matthews Academy, presented their business plans to a panel of judges – Sir Tom Hunter, Willie Mackie (Regional Chair Ayrshire College and board member of Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland), David Ross (Director, Keppie Design) and Frank Gormanley (enabler, Entrepreneurial Spark) – in the Dragons’ Den style contest.

Sir Tom Hunter, entrepreneur and philanthropist said: “This schools competition is about preparing our young people both for the world of work and in creating their own work; their own businesses, giving them the confidence and motivation to do so…Why? Because 100% of the net new jobs in our economy will come from businesses less than five years old and, as importantly, around half of the young people in primary school today will go to jobs not yet created! We need to do all we can to help our educators support our young people in a highly dynamic and changing economy; educating them for the future world of work.

“The Ayrshire schools taking part were a huge inspiration and should be roundly congratulated as should the teachers and Councils supporting them. The ideas the teams came up with, the teamwork they put in, the opportunities they identified, all contributed to an exceptional outcome. These young people can and will succeed either in the world of work or in building their own entrepreneurial workforce.

“Ayrshire schools – a true inspiration for all of Scotland.”

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council said: “It might sound like a cliché but the pitches at this year’s final were absolutely exceptional with the young people raising the bar significantly from last year.

“And for East Ayrshire to receive first and second place was just incredible. Both teams pitched viable business ideas in a passionate way. They engaged the judges and the audience with their excellent presentations which were well researched and developed.

“I am incredibly proud of all three of our teams who performed so well at the grand final.

“Engagement with business is a key priority for our Council and is now securely embedded in the school curriculum. Our vision is to ensure that every pupil will develop the skills and abilities for a successful career.

“Above all, we want to foster in our young people that vital ‘can-do’ attitude and positive mindset. Events like this clearly show what a talented pool of young entrepreneurs we have in East Ayrshire.”

The Sir Tom Hunter Challenge formed part of the Council’s sector leading business enterprise programme, designed to develop entrepreneurial skills and help make young people ‘business ready’.

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  • Ayrshire Daily News
  • Ayrshire Daily News