31 May 2015 Comments Off

Goodbye to All That …

Goodbye to All That …

The house where I grew up, where my family has lived for 47 years is about to go on the market. It’s where my sister and I fought over a bright orange Dansette, to play our first LPs ; Cat Stevens (me) or Led Zepplin (Nicks). It’s where we swotted for our O and A levels and where I set out on my bike to do three paper rounds a day so I could keep a pony. It’s where my University mates camped out while we toured Irish clubs to earn our Equity cards and where my Mum lavished love on an acre of garden, while my Dad sat on his mower proudly grooming the paddock so it looked like Lord’s cricket pitch.

DSCN0808It sits in a tiny hamlet in Leicestershire. My Dad worked for Co-Op Farms as did everyone in the village. We walked up to the diary to get our milk and had free rein to build dens, fall in ponds and get stuck up trees. It was, as my sister has often said, an Enid Blyton childhood. Time rolls on – our little paddock, empty of ponies is now a wildlife garden, the surrounding farmland is now owned by the Wellcome Trust but some things never change – My Mum’s original sixties English Rose kitchen is still in place.

Our Dad moved out of the house four years ago to live nearer my sister. Since then we have had a series of tenants who have all loved living there.  It’s a real wrench to let it go. It’s very strange to think someone else will be sitting under the maturing chestnut trees planted by my Dad when my daughter was born 26 years ago but it’s time to let it go and be enjoyed by another family. There’s an opportunity to extend the house and create an outstanding country home or to enjoy the 18th century cottage which was so very perfect for our family of four.

You can find more details here, on Rightmove or at Andrew Granger



8 August 2013 Comments Off

Feeding my soul …

One of the fabulous things about heading up TeenTech is the way it brings me into contact with so many great people. Firstly, the teenagers who constantly amaze with their sharp and fresh approach. In our recent TeenTech Awards, the finalists stunned everyone at The Royal Society with their ideas on how to make life better, simpler or easier. As visitors remarked, the projects weren’t just ‘good for their age’, they were brilliant, full stop. Google described one project which won the Education category as having global significance.

Building the TeenTech events means constantly working with people at the sharp end of Science, Technology and Engineering who are pushing exciting concepts forward. Last week Queen Mary’s College London got in touch with their latest idea which they’re hoping to get crowd funded – Touchkeys – a keyboard that has touch sensing (like a smartphone) on the surface of every key. It lets the player naturally control vibrato, pitch blends and other expressive techniques just by moving the fingers on the key surfaces. What’s so brilliant is that the research team will be bringing it along to our TeenTech events to help inspire our students . Another TeenTech supporter, Kate Stone is also crowd funding a project she’s been showing off to enthusiastic teenagers – cool interactive posters

It means being constantly reminded of the great opportunities out there for people with the right skills. I met up with Alstom yesterday – who employ over 6,500 people in UK across the rail and power industries. They pointed out to me their three CrossRail projects will mean taking on over 500 people as they fit out tunnels and install power.The company is also lead contractor on the Carrington gas-fired power station in Greater Manchester and the consortium building the extension to Nottingham’s tram system . Most people will never have heard of them and that’s a great shame when they have so many exciting career paths. They’re currently recruiting in Nottingham, Rugby, London, Radlett, Stafford and Manchester. Get in!

4 August 2012 Comments Off

What the Olympics did for me …

What the Olympics did for me …

I’m really enjoying the Olympics – a superb success – not only for the athletes but for the people who planned, built and delivered the sites on time.

The 2012 Olympics have a real resonance for me because it was standing on a Hackney rooftop  in Dec 2007, looking across at the bulldozers glinting in the December sunshine that I recognised a powerful opportunity to enthuse young people, not only about sport but science, engineering, construction and technology.Here’s a short video we shot for the New Engineering Foundation at the time.

Learning about the physics behind roller coasters at the very first TeenTech event..

Learning about the physics behind roller coasters at the very first TeenTech event.

In 2008 we ran the first TeenTech in a huge empty office building in Reading with 450 teenagers and a raft of tech and engineering companies, keen to show off their latest advances and to insprire young people to consider careers in their areas.

From the word go TeenTech was collaborative, working with global companies, regional companies, start -ups and local education partners to deliver events that were lively and sharply focussed. It is an industry-led initiative.

Last year we piloted the idea of working with regional partners adding events in Humber Region and Kent to the one we’d run for two years in Berkshire.

So far this year,we’ve run five events across the UK, with another four to go in the Autumn.

7194484196_3eaf790c37_sOne of those events was at Cisco House, a venue over looking the Olympic Park and when I stood on the balcony, overlooking the stadium, I couldn’t help reflecting on that cold December day when I decided to stop talking about the need to help young people and to actually do something about it.

TeenTech City - there's a great view out of that window. Honest ;-)

TeenTech City - there's a great view out of that window. Honest ;-)

I feel so proud of the people who’ve worked on TeenTech over the past four years, helping thousands of young people understand their own potential. Over that time, we’ve worked with some inspiring companies responsible for awesome technology and activities and with talented regional teams across the UK which helps us to develop and evolve the event. We were delighted to welcome the Duke of York to our Hampshire event in June.

ramada 37

He watched young people learn more about the technology which will help our paralympians compete later this month.

We measure the impact of our events and know how they change perceptions – 80% of girls leave TeenTech thinking a career in STEM might just be for them.

We’ve some terrific events coming up in the Autumn and if you’d like your company to be involved do let us know. You’d be made very welcome.

Tonbridge – 25th September, Coventry – 19th October, Folkestone, 25th October, Surrey, 14th November.

18 July 2012 2 Comments

Dr Philbin will see you now ;-)

Dr Philbin will see you now ;-)

I’ve a very proud moment coming up on Thursday when De Montfort University, in my home city will award me an Honorary Doctorate in technology.

mag in mirror

It’s a real thrill and I’m very flattered.

I grew up in Leicester and from a sixteen year old’s perspective, the Poly, as it was then, was the place to hang out. I met one of my first boyfriends there and hold him responsible for shaping much of my musical taste by dumping his LPs on me while I was revising for my A levels.

My ‘A’ levels weren’t in Science subjects but in English, History, French and German. I’d wanted to be a vet or a doctor but had struggled with Chemistry. No-one ever mentioned my strengths in Maths and Physics could lead to other opportunities – so to the distress of my Physics teacher and my Dad, I made a last minute change to my ‘A’ level line up.

The doctorate comes for “outstanding contributions to the intellectual and cultural life of the nation and region” and for “bringing about a greater understand of and interest in science and technology”

Which sounds a bit grand when really it has all been a very happy accident.

images-14Being invited to join Tomorrow’s World was without doubt one of the best moments of my life. It felt like coming home – and I relished every minute.For ten years I reported on some of the most extraordinary advances in science and technology and shared my enthusiasm with a keen audience, many of whom were really waiting for Top of the Pops but found themselves drawn into an exciting and often astonishing world.

I might not have realised my own dream of a veterinary or medical career but unwittingly really, along with my fellow reporters and producers, I inspired a raft of young people to take up careers in all areas of science and technology.  I’ve since had the pleasure of meeting many who have credited Tomorrow’s World with sowing the first seeds of their passion and interest. It is always thrilling to hear these stories. Many can reel off items that particularly fascinated them.

Those young people are now in their thirties and forties and often heading up tech companies or University departments and their affection for Tomorrow’s World has come in very handy.  I’ve been overwhelmed by the way leading companies and individuals have now got behind our  TeenTech initiative to create a powerful collaborative effort which inspires and enthuse young teenagers. I’m very proud of what we’re doing and will do in the future. If you want to support or join us, we’d welcome your involvement.

So in my mind, the doctorate really goes to ‘Tomorrow’s World’ and ‘TeenTech’ and I am proud to accept it on their behalf.