Winning night for East Ayrshire at Sir Tom Hunter challenge final

Doon Academy was crowned the winners, jointly with Largs Academy, of the Sir Tom Hunter Enterprise Challenge for the second year running after delivering a power pitch for their mental health board game.

The team, Meghann, Eibhlinn, Lily, Katie, Connor, Corin, Shae, Ewan and Jake, created board games based on jenga and snakes and ladders that encourage young people of all ages to talk about their mental health, effectively tackling difficult topics and helping young people develop coping mechanisms.

Their business pitch was very powerful and thought provoking, with the young people talking openly about their own mental health struggles. Sir Tom Hunter was very impressed by their business acumen and their businesses model, which was socially responsible and focused on improving the lives of their peers.

In a first for the Enterprise Challenge, Doon Academy was announced as joint winner, sharing first place with Largs Academy who are running a boutique cinema within their school. Sir Tom announced that each school would receive a prize of £4000 to help them develop their businesses.

The good news kept coming for East Ayrshire with Kilmarnock Academy lifting the third prize of £2000 with their company FOB (Finish Off Bullying).

The FOB team of Nicole, Anna, Matthew, Owen, Adam and Ceitidh, created a bespoke app designed to reduce bullying in schools across Scotland and improve the mental health of young people.

Their pitch was informative and the Judges were impressed by the app’s unique selling points.

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

Semi-final heats were 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 West Coast Accelerator facility at Olympic Business Park in Dundonald.

Teams representing Largs Academy, Kilwinning Academy, Doon Academy, Kilmarnock Academy, Queen Margaret Academy and Marr College presented their business plans in the Dragons’ Den style contest to a panel of judges – Sir Tom Hunter, Willie Mackie (Board member of Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland), Evelyn McDonald (CEO of Scottish EDGE) and David Christian (Programme Director, West Coast Accelerator).

Sir Tom Hunter, entrepreneur and philanthropist said: “All of the schools last night were winners; their drive, determination and innovation were an absolute inspiration.

“We now need to keep supporting these nascent entrepreneurs to be all they can be – they make all of us in Ayrshire very proud.”

Councillor Elena Whitham, Depute Leader of East Ayrshire Council was joined at the final by Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning. Councillor Whitham said: “I am incredibly proud of our young people from Doon Academy who showed great maturity, confidence and courage to win the grand final of the Sir Tom Hunter Challenge and to Kilmarnock Academy who took third place.

“Our teams pitched viable business ideas in a passionate way. They engaged the judges and the audience with their excellent presentations that were well researched and developed. All projects had a degree of inclusivity. They were all about kindness and helping others.

“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.”

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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