Search on for charitable teenagers with initiative

FIVE students who built a pizza oven from recycled materials, and then sold their pizza for charity, won last years Merchant Company Initiative Prize - and organisers are now seeking this year's charitable brainstormers.

Last year's winners with organisers: Pat Denzler, Master of The Merchant Company, Robert Souter, Peter Wood, Callum Jordan, Paul Morris and Richard Barron, Chairman of the Initiative Prize at The Merchant Company. Picture: Steven Donald Photography/Contributed

The prestigious 11th annual Merchant Company Initiative Prize challenges teenagers to take initiative over the summer, have fun and make a difference.

The Prize is designed to find young people aged 13-18 who live in Edinburgh or the Lothians who can think up a good idea and then put it into practice.

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It is also open to those who have independently demonstrated initiative in the past year.

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Last year, it was five S4 students from Castlebrae Community High School who designed and built their own pizza oven from recycled materials who won.

Paul Morris, Peter Wood, Robert Souter, Callum Jordan and Ryan Johnstone, who were 14-15 years at the time, designed and built a wood-fired pizza oven at their school working with teacher, James Donald and using recycled materials. 

Money was raised by donation from those who enjoyed pizza and went to Macmillan Cancer Support and The Maggie’s Centre at the Western General Hospital in commemoration of Stewart Allen, a much loved teacher at the school who died of cancer. 

The runner ups were Aya Riad and Jade Knowles.

Aya undertook a series of fund raising activities to raise funds for Medecins Sans Frontieres, recognising that for every £10 raised, 21 children can be vaccinated against measles.

She raised money through activities which included a cake sale and contacting businesses to raise money for a raffle prize.

Jade created a presentation to win sponsorship for the Physical Handicapped and Able Bodied Club.

This involved a presentation, creating an information poster and leaflets, making a three minute film, writing a poem and devising a question and answer quiz.

Pat Denzler, Master of The Merchant Company, said: “The Merchant Company of Edinburgh has been active in Edinburgh for over 300 years, proudly supporting business, charitable, and educational efforts in the city.

“The Prize for Initiative encourages the next generation of young entrepreneurs to develop their potential and achieve something new for their communities.

“We are keen to see enterprising ideas in business or philanthropy the core interests of the Merchant Company whose membership reflects forty three professions in Edinburgh.

“We hope that the Initiative Prize will encourage young people to play an active role in their city of Edinburgh and beyond to develop their skills and confidence in their own future.

Richard Barron, chairman of The Merchant Company Initiative Prize added: “This year’s Initiative Prize offers the opportunity for teenagers to do something new, gain confidence and recognition and also supercharge their CV for the future.

“I encourage everyone to think up a good idea, put it into action, involve friends and we would like to hear from you.

“We are very grateful to Cruden Homes for their generous sponsorship of the 2017 Merchant Company Initiative Prize.”

The competition is open to individuals or a small team and the winning entry will receive £500 with two runners up taking away £250 each. 

The closing date for registering entries is 16 July.

Entrants will run their project over the summer and report back at the end of August. 

Shortlisted finalists will be notified in September and invited to present their project in October when the judges will make their decision.

Established by Royal Charter in 1681, The Merchant Company’s original purpose was to protect trading rights of merchants in the City of Edinburgh. Charitable work started with Members making provision for colleagues’ widows and fatherless children.

Today, over 500 businessmen and women are Members of the Company and are actively involved at the heart of the city in activities which include ownership and governing of George Watson’s College, The Mary Erskine School and Stewarts Melville College through The Merchant Company Education Board with some 5,200 children on the total roll. 

The Merchant Company also provides support for the frail and elderly and young people in Edinburgh and has recently completed a £5.8m housing development for the frail and elderly in Liberton.