Aquinas students win Young Business of the Year in aid of Seashell Trust

Mentor Michelle Hay of Michelle Hay Training with Team Solarium - Darcey Evans, Abbie Hudson and Eliza Taylor

Aquinas came out on top as Stockport colleges competed for the Young Business of the Year title to raise money for Seashell Trust.

Teams from Aquinas, Stockport, and Cheadle and Marple colleges raised just under £1,000 for the charity that cares for and educates profoundly disabled children and young people.

They were challenged by Stockport business initiative Gander to run a business with start-up capital of £50 to raise as much money and awareness as possible for Seashell Trust with the help of mentors from the borough’s business community.

The final presentations were made to a panel of judges at the Seashell Trust’s headquarters in Cheadle Hulme.


Teams were assessed on the initial idea; fundraising success; how they worked with their mentors and as a team; how well they promoted Seashell; their presentation and the quality of the business report.

Winners were cookie bakers Swookies, from Cheadle and Marple College; Stockport College’s Elevations, who ran an afternoon tea event; and overall champions Solarium from Aquinas College, who ran a tuck shop for three months at events including charity football tournament, college events and the Seashell Trust Christmas fair.

They all took home Amazon vouchers and there was a night out at Namco Fun Scape at the Trafford Centre for Team Solarium.

Competition judge Brian Bradley, co-founder of Gander and Stockport President of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “Activities such as this are critical in giving students, from our partner colleges, practical experience and exposure to real business challenges, which build their confidence and employability skills.

“The level of effort and capability was very strong across all the teams that participated and was a great indication of the potential of local students, as the future workforce and business leaders for Stockport.”

‘Talented entrepreneurs’

Wendy Bray, from Seashell Trust, said: “This has been such an inspiring project to be involved in. To see such young and talented entrepreneurs in our area was fantastic and it was a pleasure to watch the business ideas grow.

“We are so grateful for the hard work of all the teams in making money for us, to all the colleges for their support, to all the business mentors that gave up their time to make it such a success, to our panel of judges and to Gander for making this happen.”

Carol Mayall, head of careers at Aquinas College, said: “The students really engaged with the task of raising money for the Seashell Trust but at the same time learning valuable lessons about business, teamwork, customer service and quality.

“The presentation given by the students during the final was excellent, showing confidence, clarity and a maturity which surprised even the judges.

“Students learn a great deal from these activities and have fun taking part. Everyone benefits in some way. Thanks to all involved for giving them the opportunity and raising money for such a good cause.”

The businesses were judged by Brian Bradley, partner at Clarke Nicklin; Dominic Tinner, head of fundraising at Seashell Trust; Amanda Hargreaves, Exec Team at PZ Cussons; Helen Walters, Business Growth at Stockport Council; and Mark Stringer from Heaton Moor agency Ahoy.