Bay employers and schools unite for Dragon’s Den-style careers event

A Dragon’s Den-style event is being held with Torbay secondary schools and employers from the Bay’s four key sectors – tourism, health and social care, construction and photonics.

Event organizer Jacqui Hobson, of Heart of the South West Careers Hub, presented at a Torbay Business Breakfast event in June and highlighted the project, which is aimed at students who are in Year 8 – aged 12 to 13 years.

As a result, business people from across the Bay became involved as mentors to support the students.

Jacqui then ran assemblies at each of the eight schools and was accompanied by employers from the key sectors.

Magnus Christie and Tim Durrant from Effect Photonics have introduced more than 1,500 students to the world of photonics through the assemblies.

Other employers who have presented at assemblies are Alison Upton, philanthropy manager at Rowcroft Hospice, Denise Clark of Home Instead, Matt Lewis from Paignton Zoo and Tony Horsey from Ortus Construction.

The students have until Friday, November 25, to come up with their business idea and plan their presentation.

Most schools have chosen to run an internal competition in the first instance, with multiple teams, and will choose one to go through to the next stage, at the Royal Lyceum Theater in Torquay.

At the careers hub event, in partnership with Torbay Development Agency – which will run from 9.30am to 2pm – they will have access to the large cinema screen for presentations and short films.

On the day, the Dragons will introduce themselves and talk about their sector, and their story. Then the eight schools will have their team to present their business idea to the Dragons and the other schools.

Lunch will be provided at the venue, while the Dragons decide first, second and third place.

Presentations will include individual vouchers and a team prize.

The foyer and stage of the cinema space will be used for organizations to have stands during the lunch break, so that they can interact with students and tell them more about their sectors.

Mentors attending the event are:

  • Brixham College – Annagail Leaman from Leaman Support Solutions and enterprise advisor for Brixham College; Chris from Intact Move; Magnuse Christie from Effect Photonics
  • St Cuthbert Mayne – Phil Mitchell from Lumentum and Torbay Hi Tech Cluster SW UK; Ross Elliott from Effect Photonics
  • Torquay Girls’ Grammar School – Sally Cope of Paignton Chamber of Commerce, Koru Connections and enterprise adviser for TGGS; Tony Cobley, commercial photographer
  • The Spiers – Alan Tilley of Turning Heads CIC; Laura Campbell, business operations consultant and project manager in the tourism industry; Carl Wyard from Torbay Development Agency
  • Torquay Academy – Pauline Chapman from the NHS, enterprise advisor for Torquay Academy; Owen Martin, social value coordinator at SWHLtd construction sector; Suzy Wright, Careers and Enterprise Company
  • Torquay Boys’ Grammar School – Denise Clark and Vicki Glover, Home Instead South Devon, health and social care; Fallon Hart from Kier Construction; Jackie Kelly from the Hampton by Hilton Hotel, Torquay
  • Paignton Academy – Tom Birbeck of Arc Marine; Daffne Aguilar from Willmott Dixon, construction industry
  • Churston Grammar School – Claire Booth from Rowcroft Hospice; Lynn Stephens from South Devon College; Jamie Winter, chartered accountant and business adviser.
Alison Upton

The five Dragons are Alison Upton, philanthropy manager of Rowcroft (health and social care), Tim Durrant, senior project manager at Effect Photonics (photonics), Carolyn Custerson, chief executive of English Riviera Bid Company (tourism), Tony Horsey, property development manager at Ortus Construction and David Rowe, owner of Conroy Couch Jewelers (hospitality and tourism).

Caroline Custerson
Caroline Custerson

Other attendees for the event include Torbay MP Kevin Foster, Debbi Shotton from Rowcroft Hospice, Andrew Robertson from Bay Photonics, Steve Reynolds, chair of Torbay Business Forum, who will present the awards, Jim Parker from the Torbay Weekly and Steve Talbot from Santander, Connor Conneely from Torbay Development Agency and Emily Pearson from South Devon College.

David Rowe
David Rowe

The venue, the Royal Lyceum Theatre, is run by Martin Harris of Unleashed theater Company, and is a charity set up to support the homeless and to bring the arts to the whole community, making it accessible to all, regardless of their circumstances and ability to pay for arts activities.

The vision is to have drama, dance and art sessions for young people, as well as the community and youth choirs that are already fully established.

The Theater Company is for the homeless, those who have been homeless, or anyone in the community who wants to be involved, support and take part.

The decision to hold the event at The Royal Lyceum, is, in part, to support the charity, to use a great space for students to present their business ideas, and to be participants in a community centre, with a project that involves students, teachers, and employers who live and work in Torbay.