I’m very thrilled and honoured to be awarded an O.B.E. It has come 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 eight years ago I co-founded an organisation called TeenTech, which brings the world of technology to life for young people. 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 to set up TeenTech to address this.’
‘It’s been incredibly exciting to see the impact TeenTech has made on students, teachers and in some cases whole communities. Teachers tell us the mindset of whole schools towards technology and engineering has changed as the initiative ‘spreads like a bushfire’. Thousands of young people every year gain confidence in their own potential to succeed and see how they can develop and apply skills to solve real world problems. As one student realised, “Technology is all about people”.
TeenTech Award winners have subsequently won international recognition with invitations to Silicon Valley and 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.
‘I was also honoured to play a small part in contributing to the national debate about digital skills. The report – Digital Skills for Tomorrow’s World – enabled us to gather a wide range of evidence and help spotlight both the challenges and the opportunities those of us with the power to make a difference could address.’
‘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.
‘I 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.”