Engaging young people at Guildhall

Coachlines - February 2018

15.02.18 John Blauth

An auspicious day

On the same day that the Space X Falcon Heavy spacecraft made its successful maiden flight from Cape Canaveral, Tuesday 6th February, the Coachmakers’ stand at the 2018 Livery Schools Link Careers Showcase took off as well. And what a day we had!

We engaged with 626 school students throughout the day, during which Guildhall was host to 30 Livery Companies, 45 different schools and more than 1,000 participants including teachers.

The Coachmakers’ stand was made splendidly relevant by the active presence of our various award winners and associates. Our two Coachmaker Jaguar Land Rover scholarship winners Sophie Darroux-Martin (reading physics at Imperial) and Ellie Bacon (reading engineering at Durham); Eric Beverley winner Rita Fernandes-Neves (PhD student at Cranfield, thesis topic: Gravity-fuelled space exploration) and Handley-Page Award winner Amy Chen, now at Imperial reading for her Masters in aerospace engineering.

Alongside them was Eleanor Hall, graduate in philosophy (the maths and logic end of that wide subject) from Edinburgh University and presently working at the Science Museum and SMASHFestUK. What is SmashFest? It is a narrative-driven festival with the specific mission to widen participation and build diversity in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) through the arts.
These five diverse young women, from Shanghai, the Caribbean, Portugal and the UK were the most persuasive, wonderful, ambassadors that we could have had for the mission.

Tirelessly, they engaged with the school students, making sure each one was up-to-speed and aware of all the many possibilities that the automotive, aerospace and craft sectors could offer budding engineers.

We had been sent an array of brilliant collateral by the IMechE and had prepared our own flyer to explain how and why the noble craft of coachmaking is relevant to our industrial affiliations. Armed with these, our energetic and relentless crew engaged with literally hundreds of students. While it would be a step too far to say that they sorted the shortage of engineers problem that presently besets the UK, I bet they did more towards solving that puzzle than many other volunteer-led organisations.

It was an exhausting and enormously satisfying day. Coachmaker support comprised the Master Tony Edwards, Neil Sheath, John Pearl, PM Stephen Hammerton, PM Marcus Wills and PM Gerry Bunn. Gallant Clerk Cmdr Mark Leaning RN was on parade throughout, aided and abetted by Ali Taylor who has recently taken on some of the support admin tasks without which nothing could be done effectively.

The Coachmakers did itself proud at Guildhall. We can stand tall and answer clearly in a positive tone when questions are asked about the extent and reach of our active support for young people.