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Gloucestershire Business News

Next generation of talent shines at FameLab Academy 2019

If you looked towards the county's nuclear power company yesterday and saw bright lights fear not - it was the cream of the next generation shining like stars.

The 200 on-lookers who filled the conference hall of EDF Energy will bear testament to the display of knowledge, character, talent and passion which lit-up the room.

This was the FameLab Academy finals, hosted by the Barnwood energy giant and major county employer, but driven the clever folks behind Cheltenham Festivals.

What is it all about? You have probably heard about efforts to engage young people in science, technology, engineering and maths - and connect them to business.

This was it in action and finalists from 14 schools took to the stage to pitch on their chosen subjects to the audience, their peers and a panel of judges for the title in a winner-takes-all battle.

Arwen Borthwick-Hunter, of Westonbirt School, took the overall title, with Maya Hall, of Wyedean School and Beth Browne, of Chosen Hill School, running her a close second and third.

Other finalists, all aged 14 an 14, in the oversubscribed county competition included Megan O'Brien, of Cotswold School, Joshua Netherton, of Cleeve School, Evie Llewellyn, of Dene Magna, Poppy Day, of Thomas Keble School, Charlotte Robinson, of Barnwood Park Arts College, Sofiya Kuzniatsova, of All Saints' Academy, Cordelia Morland, of Katharine Lady Berkeley School, Jacob Smith, of Beaufort Cooperative Academy, Holly Elliott of Churchdown, Jahoor Sembi of Stroud High School and Adam Peake of Rednock School.

The talent showcase was fronted by YouTuber and BBC Presenter, Greg Foot, and everyone who took part bowled the judges and audience over.

Dr Jamie Gallagher, one of the judges - alongside Jo Durrant, of BBC Radio Gloucestershire, and Aine Campbell, of EDF - said: "The passion and eloquence has been amazing."

Arwen, said: "I have met so many people and achieved so much. It has been great fun.

"I have become a lot more confident and have had so much help from my friends, my teachers and my family."

Beth, whose energies are usually thrown into gymnastics and sport, said: "When I first started this I remember sitting in my first lesson thinking 'I'm not going to be able to do this'. But here I was today up on stage. It was a great experience."

Maya, who has aspirations of a career in civil engineering or as a physicist, said: "I am so pleased I got involved. I love science and public speaking. It has been amazing and a great experience.

Ms Durrant said: "It was a joy to watch so many young people communicating about something they were clearly so enthusiastic about."

Ms Campbell said: "What a day! It was an incredible. I was fascinated by the professionalism, the sheer passion, the friendships that have been forged, the encouragement everyone gave one another."

Ali Mawle, said: "FameLab is not just about getting up and talking. It is the start of a journey and you will all go on to achieve fantastic things in science and communication.

Bob Fenton, of EDF Energy, said: "I have been amazed by the presentations. One of the great things about getting involved with Cheltenham Festivals and FameLab Academy, is it encourages people to choose STEM subjects and look at the careers they can open up."

Ms Mawle said: "FameLab Academy is about tackling head-on the shortage of young people studying STEM subjects in schools. By targeting Year 9 pupils in 14 schools across Gloucestershire we are changing students' perceptions of science and nurturing the next generation of scientists."

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FameLab Academy is a competition for Year 9 students in Gloucestershire sponsored by EDF Energy.

Students are also mentored by coaches from businesses from the county and beyond, including EDF, Kohler Mira, Renishaw, Hartpury University, QA Corvid, Ultra Electronics, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Rencol, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the NHS.

Cheltenham Science Festival is due to run from June 4 to 9.

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