Harpenden school scoops Dragon’s Apprentice prize

Dragons' Apprentice Challenge 2013

Dragons' Apprentice Challenge 2013 - Credit: Archant

A SCHOOL struck gold when it became the overall winner of this year’s Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge.

Team Gold from St George’s School in Harpenden not only won the challenge but raised £2,625 for Harpenden Child Contact Centre.

The awards ceremony at the University of Herts marked the end of a six month initiative that challenged groups of students, supported by their business Dragons, to turn £100 into £1,000-plus for local charities. In total the teams raised nearly £30,000.

Six shortlisted teams from St Albans, Harpenden, and Welwyn and Hatfield schools and colleges pitched for a range of awards and prizes which included work experience, psychometric profiling and career advice.

They had been whittled down from 27 teams of students from 14 schools initially who received advice from their Dragons on everything from budgeting and planning to marketing, time-keeping and communications.

Fundraising projects included a comedy evening, Indian and Chinese nights, music events, cake sales, wristband sales, a fashion show, a sponsored sleep out and initiatives such as ‘Would your teachers lie to you’.

In addition to being the overall winner, St George’s Team Gold won most innovative idea and was joint winner for best managed project.

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Team leader Mary Gilson said: “We held a China Evening at a local restaurant. On the night, there was a three-course meal, featuring typical Chinese cuisine. In addition, there was a traditional Lion Dance, performed by two willing team members,

“We received several comments on the night about holding the event annually, which could provide regular income for the charity. We could even expand the event into different cultures and restaurants.”

Dragon Slayers from Sir John Lawes School in Harpenden, who shared the award for best managed project, organised a Christmas Jingle Jam for their charity, Harpenden Mencap.

The winner of the most money earned was Team Elite from St Columba’s College in St Albans, who presented an impressive £4,149 to their charity Centre 33.

Team leader Myles Macaulay, explained: “We raised this money through a range of initiatives including Homeless in Need – a social event held at the school with live music and local comedians, a raffle, an auction, refreshments, and a games room.

“Through a Homeless Sponsored Sleep out, students from the lower school slept outdoors or under stairs in sleeping bags and ate a typical meal for a homeless person in order to raise awareness and understanding, promoting empathy of the young homeless situation in St Albans.”

The team demonstrating the closest co-operation with their charity, Harpenden Community Meeting Point, was Team Phoenix from Roundwood Park School in Harpenden.

Said team representative Karen Huck: “Two members of the team spent an afternoon helping to carve and sell pumpkins in a local supermarket with volunteers from the charity, and one has taken up a weekly volunteering position in their shop.

“We made raising awareness a big part of our fundraising, having leaflets available at every event and being able to answer questions.”

Team Feel from St Albans Girls’ School were chosen as the most dynamic team. They organised a fashion show and, according to their Dragon Heidi Allen from RS Bike Paint Ltd, “embraced the very essence of this scheme by bringing together not only their school and a local charity, but also the retail, business and public service communities of St Albans.”

The Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge is managed by Connect St Albans, a group that links the needs of local voluntary organisations with the skills and resources of local businesses and is led by the Centre for Voluntary Service (CVS) St Albans and district,

Now in its fourth year the challenge offers Year 12 students the opportunity to experience setting up and running a business, gaining organisational and job related skills and learning about the work and beneficiaries of their designated charity.

Over the four years since its launch, almost £83,000 has been presented to 42 charities and community groups in the area covered by the St Albans challenge.

Any schools, businesses or charities across Hertfordshire that are interested in taking part in Dragons’ Apprentice 2013/14 should contact info@dragonsapprenticechallenge.com