HUNDREDS of schoolchildren braved the Dragons’ Den as they showed off their entrepreneurial talents.
Businessman Theo Paphitis was on hand to pick the cream of the crop of young business brains from across the country at the Trentham Estate.
They were there hoping for success in the Ryman National Enterprise Challenge Grand Finals.
The 600 finalists included pupils from Blythe Bridge High School, Endon High School, Trentham High School, Sandon Business, Enterprise and Arts College, Wolstanton High School and Leek High Specialist Technology School.
The competition, run by Stoke-based Youth Enterprise CIC, involved 100 schools across the country and about 20,000 pupils from Years 7 to 10.
Each school held their own mini-tournament with the winning teams battling it out against competitors from up and down the UK in Trentham yesterday.
Theo, a former judge on the BBC show Dragons’ Den, who owns the stationer Ryman, judged the final seven schools.
He said he wanted to highlight the fact that it is never too early to nurture an entrepreneurial mind.
He added: “It’s really easy for me to support the National Enterprise Challenge due to my inexhaustible passion for furthering the entrepreneurial spirit, not only in adults but just as importantly in Britain’s school children.”
He joked with the schoolchildren and said: “What could possibly go wrong when you have to speak in front of 1,000 people.
“They have all done brilliantly to make it to the finals and have already achieved a great deal.”
The challenge was divided into two age categories, years seven and eight had to design a pencil case as part of the Ryman Challenge and years nine and 10 created a new flip-flop for the Gandys Flip Flop Challenge.
Blythe Bridge pupil Joshua Hughes, of Meir Park joined five of his classmates to present their pencil case design to a panel of judges in the morning.
His team – along with all the others from North Staffordshire – didn’t make it through to the final seven but the 12-year-old still felt it had been a worthwhile experience.
The year seven pupil said: “I like how our pencil case had so many uses. You can put photographs into a slot so you can see the pictures on the outside of the case and it has a see-through pouch for a phone.
“I think we had some really good ideas and know that I would like a pencil case just like it. We had a really good day at the competition.”
Hollie Stewart, aged 12, also from Blythe Bridge, said: “It was very exciting to be invited to the finals because we weren’t expecting it.
“We put a lot of effort into our design and wanted to get through to the final seven. It was quite a big event with lots of competition. There were so many different designs. We had to present our ideas and act out an advert in front of judges and it was nerve wracking.”
The competition was founded by two entrepreneurs, Ben Dyer, aged 26 from Longton and his cousin, Mike Dyer, aged 27 who lives in Blurton.
Source: The Sentinel