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Thursday saw the culmination of the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative in our fourth year of hosting the event. Our S3 students were charged with putting together a presentation to win £3000 for charity. The final took place in front of an excited group of students and four carefully selected judges. There was a friendly atmosphere in the theatre, although each presenting group arrived with their game faces on, preparing to battle against their peers in an effort to bring home the cheque for their chosen charity.

Several charities were represented, including Marie Curie Cancer Research, Lochaber Sports Association, Friends of Autism, Glencoe Mountain Rescue, Glencoe Outdoor Centre, Kinlochlovin’ and New Start Highland. The clock struck 2pm, it was Showtime, but not before the crack team of judges were introduced. We had Margaret Boyd, from Voluntary Action Lochaber representing the Wood Foundation, Pauline Byres, Chair of Kinlochleven Primary Parent Council, former Head teacher of St Brides, Susan Kemp and the immensely popular former Depute Head, Gordon Milne.

First up was the presentation on behalf of LSA, where the students delivered a slick performance to rival the best pitches seen on Dragons Den. They were followed by the Friends of Autism group, who produced a noteworthy display, fielding questions from the judges with aplomb. Next up was Glencoe Mountain Rescue, with the students delivering a presentation of great variety before facing something akin to the Spanish Inquisition from the judges. Nonetheless, I am delighted to report that the students held their own, answering a barrage of questions with clarity and confidence.

The students for Glencoe Outdoor Centre then raised the bar, appearing in branded T-shirts, rolling out facts and figures in support of their cause. Kinlochlovin’ presented a dynamic case for their social enterprise, which supports local young people. The Marie Curie pitch was a touching and poignant affair, highlighting the difference that the charity makes to the lives of people living with cancer. The pitch was so convincing that were Lord Sugar in attendance, he would have been reaching for his cheque book. New Start Highland would have been impressed with the final presentation supporting those faced with poverty and homelessness.

It was decision time and as the tension mounted, the judges exited stage left to deliberate. The hour was nigh and a decision had been reached. The audience shuffled in before the head judge announced the victors; Glencoe Mountain Rescue. The decision was greeted with cheers, yet there could be no losers on this day, as the profile of all of the charities and their inspirational work was duly recognised.

The winning team took a lap of honour, posing for photographs, revelling in their success and offering commiserations to their competitors. The event was a demonstration of the exceptional work carried out by our local charities and the sense of community that is celebrated at Kinlochleven High School on a daily basis.