Sheffield girls’ school scoops ‘BiG’ prize at City Enterprise Awards

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Three students from Sheffield High School for Girls have won the trip of a lifetime to Amsterdam, sponsored by major law firm DLA Piper, at the prestigious 10th annual BiG Challenge Awards for school and college students.

This annual competition for young entrepreneurs reached new heights this year with teams from 13 schools and colleges making nearly £12,000 profit. The competition culminated in an Oscars-style ceremony at the Holiday Inn Royal Victoria Hotel on Wednesday 5th April.

The winning business ‘The Letter Studio’, produced and sold gifts made from scrabble pieces. The Letter Studio is run by Leah Young, Alia Fitton and Harriet Bland from Sheffield High School for Girls. Commenting on their success, Leah said, ‘I’m just so shocked, I didn’t expect our product to go so far.’

As well as winning the top prize, The Letter Studio, have made BiG Challenge history by making the first international sale to Australia.

David Grey MBE, Chairman of the BiG Challenge, presented the Awards to a packed room of over 200 young people, parents, teachers, Council and business leaders. He said, “This year we have celebrated our 10th anniversary of this inspirational competition. Every year I’m impressed to see how this year’s teams match other years in terms of ideas, enthusiasm, perseverance and the ability to make money. I’m even more impressed to see that this year the winning team has made our first international sale.”

The winning team will enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to Amsterdam sponsored by DLA Piper, one of the top law firms in the world who started in Sheffield. The winners will visit DLA Piper’s Amsterdam office. Petra Billing, Managing Partner at DLA Piper’s Sheffield office, said, “This is an absolutely fabulous initiative. I have been so impressed by the talent and entrepreneurial flair of all the participants.”

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children Young People and Families, who presented the Key Stage 3, 4 and Post 16 prizes, said, “The BiG Challenge is a fantastic way for our young people to build connections and open doors to opportunity, regardless of background, and that’s so important for success in life. I’m proud to be part of it and that Sheffield City Council has sponsored this great programme from the beginning.”

177 teams were selected to compete by 19 Sheffield academies, schools and colleges. Each team was given an initial £25 investment to start and grow their business over a six-month period. The top 30 businesses that competed made a staggering average return of 1306%.

The 18 award winners included Hair Plant Club (Forge Valley School), Cute as a Button (Tapton), Jar Imagination (Stocksbridge High School), Jars of Joy (Forge Valley School), Ellyana (Outwood Academy City), Maylenbeth Candle Co (Silverdale School), Lavish Nights (Sheffield Springs Academy), Snapshot (Bradfield School), Pocket Money Gifts (Bradfield School), Yorkshire Prints (Forge Valley School) and On Fire (Stocksbridge High School).

The BiG Challenge is funded by Sheffield City Council and co-sponsored by a number of commercial partners as well as both Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield. Commercial sponsorship remained high this year with all existing commercial sponsors continuing including, main sponsor DLA Piper, Holiday Inn Royal Victoria, BHP Chartered Accountants, Henry Boot Construction, Made in Sheffield, Mountain Warehouse, Sheffield International Venues, Harvey Morton IT Support, OSL Group, Sheffield Wednesday FC, and Yorkshire Bank.