I’m very thrilled and honoured to be awarded an O.B.E. It came as a massive surprise and it’s been very hard to keep quiet about it for the past four weeks.
I do wish my lovely Mum and Dad were still alive to share this with me. They would have been so fiercely proud and I want to give them and my sister Nickie credit for much of what I’ve been able to achieve.
Many think of me as a science and tech reporter but it’s now eight years since I co-founded TeenTech with Chris Dodson. Our first event ran in an enormous empty office building on the Green Park in Reading. We brought together everyone in the Thames Valley keen to improve young people’s understanding of the emerging opportunities across science , technology and engineering.
I had been struck by the profound lack of information about the opportunities available in tech across a range of sectors and industries. Students, parents, teachers, companies and often government too can have narrow perceptions of what might be possible. Far too much talent has been slipping away. I wanted TeenTech to address this.
Since that first event, it’s gone from strength to strength, growing as different regions of the UK and Europe have asked us to work with them. Suggestions for the expansion of our initiatives has been driven by demand from students, teachers and companies who have advised and supported our work.
It’s been incredibly exciting to see the impact TeenTech has made on students, teachers and in some cases whole communities. We’ve been so proud to see TeenTech alumni win international recognition with invitations to Silicon Valley and to watch the impact spread like a Mexican wave. In 2016 two TeenTech Young Ambassadors won Teen Hero Awards from Radio 1 for their work inspiring other young people.
And here credit goes to my brilliant team, my co-founder Chris, our loyal and inspirational sponsors, our army of tech volunteers who make everything possible and the consistent support of our patron, HRH Duke of York.
If you’ve been involved with TeenTech you will have met some of our team – Chris, Dani, Anna, Sandra, Roland, Beverley,Gia, Amanda, Helen, Beccy, Sue, Patrick, Val, Alan, Andy, Polly,Jacquie, Suzanne, Natasha, Marc, Harry, Ali and Liz – who have all completely understood the vision and worked ridiculously hard alongside me.
We’re also so lucky to have the loyal support of some very special people in the world of science and tech – Dallas Campbell, Martha Lane Fox,Liz Bonnin, Kate Russell, Prof Brian Cox, Prof Jim Al Khalili,James May, Janice Long, Dr Christian Jessen and Kate Bevan who all give us their time and commitment.
I always felt immensely privileged to have worked on Tomorrow’s World. It wasn’t until then I had any idea how big the world of science and technology really was and that there were so many opportunities at different entry points. Hundreds of people have kindly said that seeing me on TW inspired their future careers.
With TeenTech, we now ask them to pay it forward and support teenagers, often from challenged backgrounds, helping them see how they can be the ones building the technology to change tomorrow’s world.
It’s wonderful to receive an O.B.E. It makes me all the more determined to work hard to ensure I deserve it.
And it is such a massive relief to be able to tell everyone. I didn’t even tell the team until tonight.