Following their success at the County Final and Regional Final, St Mary’s Calne’s Young Enterprise company ‘Luna & Sol’ represented the school at the UK Company of the Year Awards 2017, held at the British Film Institute (BFI) in London. This year the girls have brought to market their contemporary range of loose-leaf teas for the traditional market and fresh range of bubble teas for a younger audience and they have enjoyed unprecedented success.

Alice, Alicia, Clara, Lucy and Maddy arrived at the BFI on Wednesday 6th July to have a welcome briefing about the event, to get settled in their accommodation at King’s College and to have a delicious meal at the National Theatre’s Green Room Restaurant, before putting the finishing touches to their presentation.

On Thursday 7th July, the girls had an early start, arriving at the BFI at 5.15am to set up their trade stand in time for the BBC Breakfast team who were filming at the event. Throughout the day they had the chance to practise their presentation in the 450-seat NFT1 auditorium, before being quizzed about their experiences by two different sets of judges. They also enjoyed the chance to network and share experiences with students from other schools who had also taken part in the Company Programme and won their respective Regional Finals.

In the afternoon, the girls were joined by their guests including fellow pupil, Helena, who had also made a massive contribution to the success of the company; two of our local business advisors who support the school’s provision of Young Enterprise voluntarily, and a number of the girls’ relatives. The girls then confidently gave an engaging four-minute presentation telling the story of their company in the auditorium, which was greeted with rapturous applause.

This was followed by the main ceremony, presented by Steph McGovern from BBC Breakfast and Ben Towers, hailed by Richard Branson as one of the UK’s most exciting entrepreneurs. The ceremony included inspirational advice from a range of successful entrepreneurs including Amber Atherton, CEO and Founder of Zyper; Ben Bailey Smith, an actor and comedian with his own production company; and Levi Roots, the musician-turned-chef famous for creating ‘Reggae Reggae Sauce’. Although not everyone will go on to become an entrepreneur, every student will be better prepared for a dynamic workplace by having strong enterprise skills, such as problem-solving, initiative, teamwork and resilience.

It was a truly inspirational event and it was wonderful to celebrate the girls’ efforts throughout the year. Over 20,000 students take part in the Young Enterprise Company Programme in the UK, so to be one of the national finalists is an exceptional achievement. We whole-heartedly congratulate all the girls involved.