A group of six pupils from Priestnall School are celebrating after securing the first prize in Manchester Airport’s annual Dragons’ Den competition for aspiring entrepreneurs.
The group’s selection of Manchester worker bee tote bags, Christmas cards and badges impressed a panel of Dragons including representatives from the Airport, Singapore Airlines, Enterprise Rent a Car, John Lewis & Partners and Macdonald Hotels.
They raised £7,037 for their chosen charity, the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, and will be rewarded with a VIP night out including limousine transfers from their school to Salford Quays, a meal out and tickets to SIX the Musical at the Lowry.
Other winners included Fred Longworth High School (Tyldesley), whose eco-friendly reusable metal straw, sold through a website set up by the pupils themselves, delivered success in the Most Innovative category. The King’s School, Macclesfield, scooped the award for Best Presentation. Each team member from both schools will receive £20 in shopping vouchers as their prize.
The victors were revealed in a gala event at Hilton Manchester Airport yesterday. Each group was given the chance beforehand to present a summary of productivity, finance and lessons learnt as a result of the experience.
Priestnall School Headteacher, Craig Burns, said: “We are thrilled for our pupils who have worked incredibly hard to develop and deliver their vision.
“They have learned important lessons, built their skill sets and gained invaluable experience along the way.
“We hope they enjoy their prize and are thankful to Manchester Airport for organising this competition and giving them this opportunity.”
Ten schools from across Greater Manchester and East Cheshire took part in the challenge, generating a hugely impressive £14,135 for good causes between them.
Teams were tasked with developing a product or business idea, pitching and gaining a £100 grant from Manchester Airport to get it off the ground. They then had seven weeks to turn a profit, with the help of a mentor.
Helen McNabb, Community Relations Lead at Manchester Airport, said: “We are now in the eleventh year of this competition and the range and quality of ideas produced never ceases to amaze us. It was wonderful to see such creativity on display and our judges had some tough choices to make.
“Our annual Dragons’ Den activity is part of our wider educational outreach programme, where in the last year we have engaged with more than 13,000 pupils.
“We hope that all pupils who took part this year gained knowledge and skills that will stand them in good stead for their future careers.”
One team had a particularly memorable experience in this year’s competition, with a visit to Old Trafford for a workshop and a helping hand from a number of Manchester United first-team players.
The group from Manchester Enterprise Academy were supported by the Manchester United Foundation in delivering their business idea, which involved making letter-shaped wooden decorations.
United players including Phil Jones, Mason Greenwood, Fred and Tahith Chong crafted their own decorations and signed them for the team to raffle off. They were ultimately able to raise £843 for their chosen charity, the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
David Bell, Principal at Manchester Enterprise Academy, said: “We’re very proud of our pupils’ efforts and this has been a thoroughly unforgettable experience for them. They have learned skills that they will be able to apply through the remainder of their studies and beyond.
“We’re grateful to Manchester Airport for the opportunity to take part in this competition and to the Manchester United Foundation for all of their support.”
Rebecca Newton, Head of Communications at the Manchester United Foundation, said: “The players really enjoyed meeting the group, finding out about the project and supporting their initiative, however all the credit should go to the pupils of MEA.
“They were wonderful ambassadors for their school and set very high standards in the quality of their work – this included telling the players if they made any mistakes when they decorated their own Christmas letters!
“The Foundation has followed their incredible journey and will soon release a short video showing highlights of their Dragons’ Den experience.”
The full list of schools that took part and their products are as follows:
Wellington School (Altrincham) – Christmas Eve ‘hampers’ for children including a hot chocolate spoon, make-your-own bauble and ‘reindeer food’.
Manchester Enterprise Academy (Wythenshawe) – Christmas decoration: wooden initials, painted and decorated in Santa costume
Stretford Grammar School – laser-cut wooden tea-light holders
Stockport Grammar School – chocolates in a variety of flavours
Alder Community High School (Hyde) – Yankee candle in a glass container with Manchester worker bee symbol
The King’s School, Macclesfield – Christmas stockings with a selection of stocking fillers including handmade chocolates, air-pod cases, chargers and phone covers
Priestnall School (Stockport) – Manchester worker bee tote bags, Christmas cards and badges
Alderley Edge School for Girls – personalised laser-cut keyrings
Wilmslow High School – scented soaps and handmade fudge
Fred Longworth High School (Tyldesley) – metal drinking straws in a protective fabric bag
For more information on Manchester Airport’s Community Relations programme, visit https://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/community/.