News Posts

Mr Sunny Slays Dragons in Sir Tom’s Challenge

27th June 2014

This week, The Klin Group’s Marie Macklin was pleased to be called a ‘Dragon.’ This is the third year running Marie faced up to the ‘Dragon Slayers’ of East Ayrshire schools whilst judging at the Sir Tom Hunter 2014 Challenge. Marie Macklin said: “It was an absolute privilege to judge at Sir Tom Hunter’s annual event. Each year the level of entries become more aspirational and innovative. It goes to show that the youth of East Ayrshire are leading the challenge to create a new economy for Scotland.”

Budding young entrepreneurs from East Ayrshire academies entered Sir Tom Hunter’s Dragons’ Den once more, in a bid to scoop the top prize of £3,000 – and Monsieur Soleil swept the board!

An educational board game in French/English, Monsieur Soleil (Mr Sunny) was the brainchild of the team from Doon Academy, Dalmellington, which took them to victory on the night.

Sir Tom praised the quality and innovation of the game, which could also expand into other languages – and he urged them to consider Mandarin.

He said: “Doon Academy is the overall winner of the 2014 Challenge. We think their product has global reach – and importantly, it makes learning fun. Even better, it is manufactured in Ayrshire”.

As part of his commitment to mentor local pupils, billionaire entrepreneur Sir Tom challenged youngsters to come up with ideas for products, innovations or businesses of the future.

Nine teams presented their business plans to Sir Tom and his panel of judges – Heather Dunk (Ayrshire College), Marie Macklin (Klin Group), Willie Mackie (Chamber of Commerce) and David Ross (Keppie Design) – in the Dragons’ Den style contest in Loudoun Academy, Galston, hosted by last year’s winners.

Top prize of £3,000 went to Doon Academy’s first-ever enterprise group, Focus – Kirsty McCormick, Ashley Mitchell, Halle Fitzsimmons, Paige McMahon, Fiona Kennedy, Katie Graham and Naomi Allan.

James Hamilton Academy scooped second prize of £2,000 for H2NO –a ‘socially-responsible’ mobile phone cover, which inflates and protects a phone dropped in water. All profits made will go to WaterAid. The judges praised it as ‘a really innovative idea which could be used in the marketplace today’.

Auchinleck Academy was awarded third prize of £1,000 for its creative Re-Dezyn app, which allows users to re-design any room in their house.

The other six schools’ presentations were considered to be so good that Sir Tom awarded them £500 each.

Sir Tom Hunter said: “East Ayrshire Council has taken the lead in the field of enterprise in education. This should be happening all over Ayrshire and indeed all over Scotland.”

“Everyone here is really a winner. The important thing is the journey pupils go through to learn and understand – not just the inventions they come up with”.

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: “This was a keenly fought competition, where our young entrepreneurs had the opportunity to demonstrate not only their business skills, but also their fantastic creativity.

“Engagement with business is now securely embedded in the school curriculum and our vision is to ensure that every pupil will develop the skills and abilities for a successful career.

“Above all, we want to foster in our young people that vital ‘can-do’ attitude and positive mindset. Events like this clearly show what a talented pool of young entrepreneurs we have here”.

The Sir Tom Hunter Challenge formed part of the Council’s business enterprise programme, designed to develop entrepreneurial skills and help make young people ‘business ready’.