In the first weekend of October, the Head Girl Team (Zoya Zaman, Matilda Sample, Hannah Manwell) and the House Captains (Helen Brown, Tilly England, Emma Moreby, Alys Pigott) travelled to Royal Bath High School for the GDST Young Leaders’ Conference. GDST girls from all over the country gathered together to improve their leadership qualities, as well as embodying the four key values the GDST holds: to be bold, networked, principled and putting girls first. Deputy Head Girl, Hannah Manwell, writes about her experience.
We had heard great things about the conference from previous years and we were excited to experience it for ourselves. However, I do not think that anything could have prepared us for the intensity of the weekend or for how much we would take away from it.
On arriving, we were given an introduction by Kieran Smith, the events co-ordinator, as well as three incredible talks from very inspirational and motivating women: Helen Fraser, Ann Franke and Debra Searle. Ann Franke, who was named as one of the top 100 women to watch in the 2015 Female FTSE report from Cranfield, told us about the importance of raising the numbers of women in senior positions. She was followed by Debra Seale, who told us about her incredible three and a half month row across the Atlantic. We heard of the trials and tribulations which were thrown at her along the way, and her true grit, determination and bravery which took her 3000 miles from Tenerife to Barbados.
The charity challenge
We were briefed on the challenge which was to create an awareness and money raising campaign for one of four charities: Barnardo’s, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, Plan UK and The Lily Foundation. After everyone was split into 12 groups and assigned to a charity, it was time to get to know the team you would be spending the following days working with. We listened to a presentation from our allocated charity and learnt what it was the charity valued most. We were given team building challenges lead by the British Army and then each team had to allocate roles and have an initial idea generation session.
Saturday was intense; we worked from 8.30 a.m. until 7.00 p.m. During this day, we had to pitch our ideas to the charity representative, complete market research in Bath city centre and then bring the proposal to life. This included creating a promo video, event logo, social media ideas, posters, flyers, microsites etc. Each team was supported throughout the weekend by two mentors who were all members of the GDST. Masterclasses from Karen Kimura and Glen Fendley helped us with preparing for the presentations, as well as developing the fundraising. We were also given tips and hints on the YLC twitter page, including a ‘stress breaker’, inconveniently close to the deadline time, to run onto the field and take a group selfie. We were rewarded that evening with a drinks reception and a lovely three course dinner!
The final day consisted of presentations to a judging panel of each team’s proposal for their charity. By this point in the weekend, every team had grown closer to one another and was truly passionate about their charity. The presentations were all very well performed and each team had thought of a novel idea which hopefully, in the future, the charities will be able to use. The judging panel, consisting of Helen Fraser, Glen Fendley, Linn Waite and a representative from each of the charities, had to come to a very challenging decision. They awarded a winner for each of the charities and then an overall winner.
I was lucky enough to be a member of the winning team who were representing The Lily Foundation. Our idea was ‘A Day Without Cells’ because the foundation raises money for research into finding a cure for Mitochondrial disease. Mitochondrial cells which produce energy stop functioning which leads to the failure of organs. The charity supports families affected by this.
The idea was that people would be sponsored to not use their mobile phones, or cells, for the day. In order to raise awareness there would be a social media campaign in the run up to the day and then people would post about what they did following the day. This was meant to encourage people to spend time with their family, something that seems to be neglected in the hectic lives we all lead. I hope that the work that everyone did for their charity will help to raise money for them in the future.