On Tuesday the 8th July I’ve been invited back to my old school, Ponteland High School to participate in their ‘Entrepreneur Week’ where the students join in various tasks and to give them many different opportunities to see if they have the ‘bug for business.’
I have to be honest here, I hated most of my school days. Without a football team and my mates I don’t think it would have been very bearable at all. A mixture of teachers who didn’t want to inspire and being taught a curriculum which was nothing like the real world, bored me and gave me little impetus to go on and want succeed at anything. Looking back, not knowing what I wanted to do when I left hadn’t motivated me to try at anything apart from being in the football team. I couldn’t wait to leave and feared what was to come. Self employment never entered my mind.
Tuesday is an opportunity to tell my story and assure those who haven’t a clue what to do when their turn comes to exit the gates onto Callerton Lane for the last time, that there is life after school. I’m taking my responsibility seriously and have set a task that involves them ‘inventing’ a low cost start up business and designing a front page of a web site to promote it. I hope to maybe light a little spark in one or two who could go on to become business owners, entrepreneurs and help make our region great. We really do need the youth to come through, set up businesses, employ people and create wealth which benefits our region, pay taxes, builds our hospitals and schools and provides for those who need the greatest help.
In July 1981 I couldn’t wait to get out and on Tuesday the 8th July 2014, I can’t wait to get back in. We all need to give a little back where we can.
What can I say! The Year 9 class at Ponteland High School I had were absolutely fantastic. Their attitude, behaviour and work ethic was brilliant to see and I was absolutely blown away with their creativity and effort in the tasks set. Following an introduction and a short story about my time at the school, I asked them, in small groups to think of a business and develop the front page of their new web site page (on a poster size piece of paper) to have a ‘WOW’ effect and attract new customers. Nothing prepared me for what was to come from every single participating group.
One idea was a square ‘Pritt Stick’ glue (square because round one’s make a mess when you have to glue the corners!) these items would come in various sizes, colours and even odours to make them attractive to children and fun to use. Amazing idea and they were even thoughtful enough to donate percentages of profits to charity. Another idea was a recycled plastic range of kid and adult suitcases and travel bags. The kids case came with various cuddly animals incorporated on the top which doubled up as a comfort toy and a pillow to sleep on. Brilliant. Other ideas included a website where you could order vintage tee shirts and other ‘vintage’ wear, not available in shops and an Airline to take people on Honeymoon / Anniversary type of bespoke ‘special’ trips to places airlines don’t go. All this from 14 year olds!
The future of business, innovation and future wealth creation in the North East is safe in the hands of these fantastic young people. It was amazing to be a part of it.