Over a thousand local children inspired to engineer a sustainable future

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The “We Make Our Future” planetarium show has been touring local West of England schools, encouraging children to think positively about the Climate Crisis and use human ingenuity to engineer a more sustainable future.

With generous funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Ingenious grant scheme, the show has inspired approximately 1,550 children in the last three months!

All those children attend local schools in areas of socioeconomic deprivation, with 80% of them reporting that the show helped them to find out how engineering can help the world.

Children described the show as…

95% of teachers say they’d recommend the show to others.

The show was interactive and interesting, the children were engaged and could not wait to ask questions,” said a teacher from Four Acres Academy.

[The show] Really engaged the children and gave them a better understanding of what they can do to make a difference,” said a teacher from Fonthill Primary.

Engineering ‘We Make our Future’

The show was originally created in 2021 by Explorer Dome (a hands-on science company who travel the country to provide children a taster for science in their inflatable planetariums) in collaboration with UWE – with support from the Digital Engineering and Technology Innovation (DETI) programme.

The new funding from the Royal Academy of Engineers, has not only enabled Explorer Dome to visit more schools, but also enhanced children’s exposure to regional sustainability ambassadors – to raise aspirations and exposure of green engineering careers.

To showcase more ambassadors the UWE and Explorer Dome team have been:

Training – UWE arranged for the Explorer Dome team to train a diverse group of engineers in public engagement skills, in September at UWE’s Engineering building – you can read more about this event on the blog.

Role modelling – UWE and Explorer Dome are doing film shoots with engineers at sustainability focused engineering companies across Bristol – including at clean energy companies, Thrive Renewables and Belltown Power, and indoor farming technology company, LettUS Grow. These films will be shown during We Make Our Future shows to inspire children with the vast range of real-life, local green engineering role-models. See below, one of the films of engineer Olivia.

Green Skills – meanwhile the UWE team have arranged Green Skills career fairs at local schools, to further expose children to different companies and the people in them who work in sustainability. In particular, children at Hans Price Academy in November were challenged to rethink what “green skills” are – it’s not necessarily about having lots of local animal habitat knowledge, but about utilising whatever skills you have – from numbers to creativity – to build a sustainable future. You can read more about this initiative here.

180 pupils from Hans Price also got to go into the dome and see the We Make Our Future shows during this Eco-Week at their School.

Brilliant content, good pace & good interaction from students,” said a Hans Price teacher.

The Future of ‘We Make Our Future’

A further three schools are booked to see ‘We Make our Future’ in April and May, including a school for deaf children. And Explorer Dome are booked in for a day full of shows at UWE’s Engineering Family Fun Day on 1st July – more details to follow on this soon!

UWE are following up with schools who have had the shows already to signpost more educational materials and offer the UWE Inspire range of free workshops, some of which involve taking local STEM Ambassadors into schools. Seven schools are booked in to take part in these workshops in April/May.

Want to get a better glimpse into the We Make Our Future show – take a look at the video below:

Funding received for a NEW student Repair & Maker community

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A newly approved project at UWE Engineering, will bring students together with local people to work on community projects. From solving community-generated problems, to fixing broken goods, the ‘Making And Knowledge Exchange for Repair & Sustainability’ – MAKERS project – it launches this month to create a purposeful & practical space for student creativity & skill development with informal mentoring.

This collaborative setup between students and community groups from Easton, Eastville and St Pauls, is designed to help students from all backgrounds feel a sense of belonging and for them to grow & develop their engineering passions.

The MAKERS project is being supported with nearly £90,000 of funds from the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity Impact Programme, which aims to inspire change within university engineering departments.

Grant winner, Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, UWE Bristol Associate Professor for Engineering in Society, said: “We’re looking forward to launching the MAKERS project with communities in Bristol next year, thanks to the funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

“For UWE Bristol, it offers our diverse engineering students the opportunity to add value to the area by working together in a purposeful and practical environment and to develop peer support and friendship. They will gain practical skills and informal mentoring by working alongside inter-generational community members, recruited through Bristol Repair Café network and industry STEM Ambassadors.

“Every year, we throw away huge amounts, even items which have very little wrong with them, which could easily be used again after a simple repair. As well as being better for the environment and promoting sustainability, this scheme will save people money, share repair skills that are being lost, and bring the local community together.”

Inclusion & Diversity

The Makers project builds on UWE Engineering’s growing reputation for supporting representation and belonging in engineering for Women and people from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic groups, alongside inter-sectional backgrounds of lower socio-economic status – recognised in TV coverage last year- read more in this BBC article or watch the short BBC Points West clip.

Women make up only 16% of engineers, and those from minority backgrounds make up only 7% of engineers in employment. Research indicates being part of a minority may mean students feel out of place, isolated, or unable to reveal or fulfil their complete identity, resulting in lower recruitment rates, degree non-completion, lower salaries, and ultimately higher rates of leaving engineering.

This project draws on the fact that STEM activities drawing on wider societal or environmental purposes (communal goals) are more attractive to women. And that Maker projects have been shown to encourage engagement for other minorities. This sits alongside the Climate and Ecological Emergency, with UWE students indicating a desire to make a difference locally.

Kate Corbett is a volunteer at the repair café at The Old Library in Eastville. She said: “We are delighted to be part of the MAKERS project, which not only addresses the climate crisis, but also the lack of diversity in engineering. Our monthly Repair Café has become well established since we first set it up early in 2022, showing that there was a real demand for it: people do not only come to get their items fixed (many of which have a very sentimental value), but also to learn new repair skills, or simply enjoy a cup of tea in the café whilst waiting for their turn. Our repairers have also formed a real community and regularly support each other with the repairs. There is immense social and environmental value in the Repair Café movement, and we are excited to be working with UWE Bristol to help grow it further.”

Student Engineers already use the Schools of Engineering’s atrium for projects tackling real-world problems – now this could become the location for the MAKERS community

MAKERS aims to support students to develop their own projects which align with their full identity e.g. textiles, art and design, digital engineering, or DIY maintenance. Drawing on multiple identities is predicted to help improve belonging, agency, and retention in engineering.

Repair the environment

By encouraging and enabling repair, the MAKERS project at UWE, has obvious environmental benefits and is one of many such community initiatives needed to address the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

UWE Bristol student engineers will also be working with Baggator, a Community Centre in Easton. Stuart Phelps, Chair of Trustees, added: “This is a brilliant opportunity to share skills, build links, and repair things people value. At a time when so many of our friends and neighbours are struggling to make ends meet, MAKERS will help them by giving new life to valued things; make new friendships between the University and Easton; and remove things from landfill. A real, living, example of the circular economy where it’s needed most.”

We’re excited for the new MAKERS space to start taking shape in March 2023 – and we’ll keep you informed here of any developments. If you or your community group would like to get involved, please contact the team on engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk.

Come along and be inspired by children’s inventions – 6th April

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On Thursday 6th April – pop along to GKN Aerospace Global Technology Centre for an hour (or as long as you want) to take a look at some of the intriguing inventions school children have been coming up with.

Children all over the country are currently furiously scribbling designs – all intended to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. They are entering those ideas into the Leaders Award – and thousands of those entries will turn up at GKN (one of the Leaders Awards partners in the South West) for grading by our lovely local engineers.

Grading isn’t an onerous process – quite the opposite – you’ll simply be flicking through some drawings and putting the most interesting/credible ideas through to be shortlisted. Whilst being looked after by the lovely Leaders Award and GKN teams.

Every year grading participants really enjoy the experience and leave feeling inspired and intrigued by ideas such as, solar powered blankets or a variable light braking system on cars.

When: Thursday 6th April – drop in sessions – come along whenever suits you

Location: GKN Aerospace Global Technology Centre, Taurus Road, Patchway, Bristol, Patchway, England – BS34 6FB

Contact:  sign up here – as the team would like to know how many people to expect

You can see the Leaders Award process below – all starting with the challenge “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” Step 6 – grading is where you would be helping out.

Something inspirational from last year’s event

For engineer Darren Kewley, from the MOD, he returns year after year to these grading days to hear the stories.”I think my favourite part is seeing their personal stories come through – the real world problems they face and seeing them apply engineering to fix those problems.”

One example that particularly struck him – “One child explained how their Gran was in hospital and it broke their heart to see the problems she was facing. They explained in the letter that they hadn’t known what to do, but after hearing about this competition, realised that engineering could help.”

The kids taking part in this competition have got it – Engineering solves problems and can help make the world a better place!

Please come along to help the children taking part in this project!

Demystifying Digital Engineering

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The National Composites Centre (NCC) and the Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) partners: CFMS, Digital Catapult, Universities of the West of England, Bristol & Bath, will be holding an event focused on ‘Demystifying Digital Engineering’, taking place at the NCC, Bristol, 23rd March, 2-4.30pm.

As a research, innovation, and skills initiative, DETI has been helping companies to identify and develop the tools, technologies and processes to accelerate digital engineering capabilities and the skills needed to embed digital.

Guests will have the opportunity to view and interact with a range of digital technology and skills demonstrators that accelerate engineering transformation, identifying efficiencies in product, process and technology development, inspiring the next generation of engineers to engage with digital.

Demonstrations will cover digital learning factories, AR/VR in composite production, AI/simulation in the design process, haptics robotics, through to digital skills for workforce development and STEM activities to inspire the next generation of digital engineers. 

Places are limited, to request a place at the event or for more information, please email: events@nccuk.com 

Reposted from https://www.nccuk.com/events/demystifying-digital-engineering/

Women in Engineering Mentoring & Outreach Programme – get involved now!

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‘Women Like Me’ is a peer mentoring and outreach project in the Bristol and Bath area aimed at boosting female representation at all levels in engineering. Senior women engineers are paired with junior women engineers and their mentoring journeys supported through various events. At the same time training and opportunities are provided for junior engineers to undertake engineering education outreach in local schools. 

The programme has run with great success since 2018, and for 2023 we’re excited to be adding a new element to our mentoring support package! 

In addition to our face-to-face networking and training events, this year we will be providing online mentoring support. Alexandra Knight, an award-winning engineer and presenter, who empowers women in STEM to be confident visible role models through her company STEMazing, will be heading up these online sessions, with particular emphasis on developing our Senior Engineers’ mentoring skills. 

Who can take part?

If you have 5 years (or more) experience working in engineering – you’re a Senior Woman Engineer! – please sign up to be a Mentor here.

Junior women engineers are those with less experience than this, and can include apprentices, trainees, undergraduate and postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers – with less than 5 years experience in engineering. Please sign up to be a Mentee here.

Date for the diary!

Please sign up in January, as we’ll collect all enrolments and pair you up mentor-to-mentee in early February before our kick off event on 23rd Feb…

Women Like Me – 23rd February, 4 – 6pm at UWE Bristol (Frenchay campus in Filton).

This event will introduce you to the Women Like Me programme, with some top tips and discussion about mentoring and outreach. And hopefully include getting to meet your new mentee/mentor for the first time (!) as well as the rest of this years cohort. 

Those are the core details, but if you’d like to find out more about the programme – including why we think women mentoring is important, more detailed plans for this year, expectations from mentor/mentees, past successes etc – please read below.

Why is this important?

Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. In order to support female engineers, more girls need to connect with engineering as a career, with positive female role models, and more women need to be supported to make a difference in the workplace.

Women Like Me is addressing this by pairing together women engineers to provide career and public engagement mentoring. Participating engineers deliver engineering engagement activities in local schools and at local public events, providing positive role models for young girls. Through this approach, the project impacts the workplace today and the future of the engineering profession.

What will it involve?

Introductions – We offer various networking and training opportunities to all participants, this year the first session will be held face-to-face on 23rd Feb.

Goal setting – On 9th March, there’ll be an online goal setting session for mentors and mentees. Alexandra Knight (from STEMazing) will lead mentoring pairs through focused discussions to get their mentoring relationships off to a great start.

Mentor only coaching – This year will be a great opportunity for mentors to develop themselves as well as their mentees, with Alex leading four subsequent online ‘mentoring circle’ meetings for mentoring coaching and peer support. These sessions will be spread throughout the year and will be private sessions for mentors-only.

Mentoring meet-ups – We expect mentors and mentees to meet at least twice during the year – although we’d encourage more, if that’s possible for both parties. These meetings or conversations can take whatever form best suits each pair – something to discuss in your initial meetings in Feb/March.

Mentees public engagement – Junior engineers will receive training in public engagement (Senior Engineers can also take part!) and we ask them to then undertake at least three engineering outreach activities with local schools and public events. Coordination of activity is provided and supported by UWE – we’ll send you opportunities over email and support you in these sessions.

Log your activities – we then ask mentors to log their mentoring meet-ups, and the mentees to log their public engagement – this helps us to track how the programme is going.

More Women Like Me Info

This project was first launched in 2018 and is based in the Science Communication Unit and School of Engineering at UWE Bristol. The project is organised by Dr Louisa Cockbill and Ana Bristow, and was initiated by Dr Laura Fogg Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs. It is supported by the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI).

You can read about the successes of the project in previous years and access the 2018-2019 project report. A paper in the Journal of Science Communication, Fogg-Rogers and Hobbs (2019) places Women Like Me in the context of recruitment and retention of women in engineering.

For any further information please email engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter for updates.

How do I sign up?

If you’ve not already done this on the links above, here they are again! To take part in the project this year, interested participants should complete the appropriate online survey:

Senior Engineers (over 5 years experience) please complete this survey

Junior Engineers (less than 5 years experience) please complete this survey

The project coordinators will then be in touch in February to introduce you to your mentor/mentee.

Students throng to Engineering Careers Fair – today!

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It’s Project Week for Student Engineers at UWE Bristol, with a busy schedule of events and talks planned each day.

And the big event for today was the Careers Fair, organised by the brilliant Engineering Director of Professional and Workforce Development, Wendy Fowles-Sweet.

10 of the biggest Engineering companies in the South West set up stalls in the School of Engineering’s atrium and have been visited by hundreds of students between 12 and 2:30pm.

They’ll be much more about Project Week coming up soon!

Students – for anything career related please do check out the Engineering Fair Live Wall of Work.

Bristol Engineering advocate, Jared Newnham named IET’s Engineering and Technology Apprentice winner

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UWE student Jared Newnham has been named the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) Apprentice winner 2022.

Jared is a third year Aerospace Engineering Degree Apprentice, undertaking a placement as an Airworthiness Certification Manager at DE&S Air Domain, Ministry of Defence. He was nominated for demonstrating outstanding initiative by developing a new regulatory-compliant procedure that has been used for multiple complex technical queries. His work has been such a success it is being rolled out to all projects within the Delivery Team.

Well done Jared!

On receiving the award, Jared said: “I can’t believe that I’ve been chosen as the IET’s Apprentice winner for 2022. There are so many apprentices doing great things across engineering so to be given this award makes me really proud.

“For anyone thinking about taking up a career in STEM, I would definitely recommend looking into apprenticeships. My placement with the Ministry of Defence has led to so many incredible opportunities which I will look back on fondly and which will hopefully lead to a long and enjoyable career.”

Jared and the awards

As Airworthiness Certification Manager, Jared is responsible for increasing air system operational capabilities through risk reduction and type design change embodiment. But in addition to his main duties, Jared is a keen advocate for engineering within the local community, coordinating an outreach event to promote careers to sixth form students and also mentoring struggling classmates.

The IET Achievement Awards celebrate excellence and research across the sector and encourage the next generation of engineers and technician.

IET President Professor Bob Cryan said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Jared who has been making great waves in the world of engineering despite being so early on in his career. It is inspiring to see that Jared is using his passion for STEM to help teach others about the opportunities available to them, increasing awareness amongst members of his local community.

“Each of the award finalists demonstrated an exceptional level of skill and knowledge, spanning beyond their roles which made judging extremely difficult. All have taken on challenging projects and thanks to their creativity and resolve, have had a positive impact in their companies. I wish all of them the best of luck for a rewarding engineering career ahead.”

Engineers meet to inspire the next generation

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On Tuesday 13th September, Engineers across the West of England gathered at UWE Bristol to glean insights into how to ‘Inspire young people in Engineering’.

The 20 diverse engineers were led through the “how to” of engaging & inspiring children by the science communication experts from local Bristol planetarium company, Explorer Dome.

Explorer Dome have been travelling throughout the country for over 20 years, providing children with a science experience inside their awe-inspiring inflatable planetariums. They drew on this wealth of experience at the training session, to guide the engineers through the basics, with plenty of examples and opportunities for the engineers to ‘have a go’.

Attendees reported an overall increase in confidence in delivering engineering outreach to children and said the following:

“Great top tips! [I have a] better idea of how to interact and communicate science with children.”

Presenters know what they’re doing! Inspiring and I hope I can be a good communicator like them someday.”

Really helpful content and activities.”

With more diverse representation recognised as an important factor to increase the numbers and diversity of engineers joining the workforce, it was great to have so many female engineers present (13 out of 20 attendees), as well as engineers from range of ethnic backgrounds. Thanks to everyone who joined us and we wish you the best with your school outreach!

What’s next to inspire the next generation of engineers?

This training was funded as part of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s public engagement grant scheme – Ingenious – secured by UWE. This Ingenious funding will also be used to extend the impact of Explorer Dome’s ‘We Make Our Future’ show – a show all about engineering a sustainable future.

The show was was originally developed in 2021 as a collaboration between Explorer Dome and UWE Engineering’s outreach team, with initial funding from the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) initiative. Now Ingenious funds are enabling the team to take ‘We Make our Future’ into schools in areas of socioeconomic deprivation in the West of England.

The team is also extending some of the content of the show – adding in videos from local engineers, to showcase the breadth of people in engineering and inspire the diverse and socially conscious engineers of tomorrow. 

Some of the engineers seen at training this month, may well become those inspirational role models showcased inside the planetarium in the coming months!

Additional Information

UWE Engineering

You can find out more about UWE Engineering and the activities of the Outreach team on the UWE Engineering our Future website.

Explorer Dome

Explorer Dome is an internationally known, vibrant, popular science outreach organisation.
They travel across the UK presenting live science shows for schools, festivals and special events. Hands-on demonstrations and stunning visuals combined with knowledgeable, enthusiastic and professional presenters: Explorer Dome is presenter-led, lively, interactive and fun!

Royal Academy of Engineering – Ingenious: public engagement awards

Ingenious is an awards scheme for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering while providing engineers with skills and opportunities in public engagement.

They prioritise projects that reach diverse and underrepresented audiences including communities in the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and that engage with engineers and people of different genders, ages and ethnic backgrounds.


DETI is funded by the West of England Combined Authority; it is transforming engineering for the digital era and inspiring the next generation of engineers. It is helping identify the technologies that will drive innovation in developing sustainable products, systems, businesses, infrastructure and transport that underpin a net zero environment. It is creating a new, diverse engineering community and systems to investigate, develop & demonstrate the advanced digital technologies and skills needed for the sustainable products of the future.

Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre (NCC) in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS), Digital Catapult, the University of the West of England (UWE), the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. WECA funding of £5m is match funded by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

Free training to inspire children into engineering

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Ever wish you could kick out an intriguing kick-ass answer to your nephews questions about your work? Not quite sure where to start when explaining something so complex for an 8 year old? Or do you get really into it, but maybe too much so, it’s been 20mins and they’ve switched off?

We’ve got just the right workshop for you!

Book onto the 2.5 hour workshop at UWE Bristol Frenchay campus, on Tuesday 13th September, 4 – 6:30pm.

It’s free, fun and will make you fit to fly into the face of those tricky questions kids have the knack of coming up with.

Workshop aims

The expert science communicators from Explorer Dome – an inflatable planetarium company who have been going throughout the UK for over 20 years to wow children with their science shows – will be running the training session.

They’ll provide some top tips and guidance to get attendees thinking, with lots of time dedicated to working together to find some top ideas and cool stories to spark a children’s interest in each engineer’s area of expertise.

It’s set to be a very practical workshop, and you’ll takeaway a specially prepped mini-spiel ready for those questions you might encounter at home, OR, if you fancy volunteering, to inspire kids in the classroom.

Again that’s Tuesday 13th Sept, 4-6:30pm for “Inspiring Children into Engineering” at UWE Bristol.

Sign up here: https://uwe.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6PxrLH0aLZ0FSyW

You just need to bring along the experiences of engineering individual to you, and this session will grow your confidence in speaking about that journey and your passions to the next generation.

Our amazing interns

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UWE students impressed with teamwork and communication during their internship.

We had two UWE student engineers join the Inspire team as interns for eight weeks this June/July. And from independently designing a new school workshop, to running around science festivals entertaining children, they’ve helped us enormously during our busy period. So this is my chance to rave about how amazing it has been to have these two gems in our team!


My student interns were: Wing Leung (Natalie), a 1st year Robotics student engineer, and Luca Caruso, a 2nd year Aerospace student.

They both hit the ground running on their first day, which coincided with the first time we’d ever held a large school event in the new Engineering building. The event and then crazy schedule of school Minecraft workshops went really well, but it wasn’t until later that week that I realised what superstar students we had landed.

What a team

I spent about half an hour introducing the scope and concepts of a workshop I wanted them to design during the following weeks, then sat back (furiously emailing) and watched them began a pattern of steady and committed teamwork that continued throughout the internship. In Luca’s words, the two had “good synergy”.

I was continually impressed by their incredible independence and ability to drive the project forward using self-imposed deadlines, to finally deliver the workshop as a two part STEM Club to enthusiastic reception at the Old Library.


Great Ambassadors for UWE

Over the weeks at the: Cheltenham Science Festival, Great Science Share, Leaders Award Celebration and UWE family fun day, Luca and Natalie spoke to and inspired hundreds, possibly even thousands of local children in Engineering. They were key members of the team, which has had children looking in wonder around UWE’s Engineering building, asking about becoming students here like Luca and Natalie.

The West of England Mayor, Dan Norris, was keen to see what the robots could do when he visited UWE for an awards ceremony (his dog Angel was more interested in getting a good photo!). Natalie and Luca used their tried and tested engagement skills to woo the Mayor.

Natalie and Luca explaining their activity to the Mayor

We had about 600 people streaming into UWE’s new Engineering Building for the Family Fun day, with Luca and Natalie fielding a constant stream of visitors at their LEGO Mindstorm robot activity. Spot them in the photo below.

Spot Luca and Natalie heading up the robot zone


Speaking to both interns before they left, it was great to hear their perspectives on the experience.

Luca raved about running the Inspire stall at Cheltenham Science Festival and getting the opportunity to speak to so many different people. After 8 weeks of experience learning how to best explain things to children of different ages, Luca said that at a school visit in his final week, “I finally got asked the question I’d been waiting for the whole internship! A child asked how a plane flies.” I feel certain he did a good job of answering it.

As for Natalie, the experience of designing, developing and then delivering the LEGO Mindstorm workshop with children at a STEM club, was the most satisfying aspect. She also developed great communication skills over the internship and wasn’t afraid to put all of that into practice, impressing the team when she volunteered to step up and fully lead a Minecraft workshop on her last day in school.

Final Goodbyes

What’s left to say, other than – Natalie with your boundless enthusiasm and commitment to a project, and Luca with your natural flair for leadership and super organisational skills – you’re already missed!

Good luck both of you!

Team Inspire 2022 at the Leaders Award Celebration Event 24th June 2022 (left to right – Louisa Cockbill, Natalie, Luca, Georgina Hayes & Josh Warren)

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