By Elye Cuthbertson, of Water Watcher, BT Young Pioneer Award winners
This time last year, we never could have imagined the journey we were going to go on. From First Lego League winners, to Tech4Good finalists, to the BT Tower, to Tech4Good winners, we have achieved more than we could ever have hoped, and it’s not over yet! Get ready for trophies, towers, bow ties and chocolate fountains.
We entered the Tech4Good competition in the BT Young Pioneers category not expecting it to go anywhere. I have to say we sort of forgot about it, what with everything else we were doing! (Going to Estonia for the international finals of First Lego League, talking with a company about putting our product the Water Watcher into production, you know. The usual.) Then a little while later we got a very exciting email: we had got to the finals of Tech4Good! We were thrilled. Even more thrilled when we heard we were going up the BT Tower for what was set to be a fun networking event. It was a chance to meet all the other finalists, network, and explore the wonderful BT Tower.
I have to say that I was very excited to go up the tower, but was surprised that I actually enjoyed speaking to everyone even more. It was amazing hearing the other finalists’ ideas and how many of them had already been implemented, some with thousands and thousands of users. And we all enjoyed trying to spot our houses (somewhat unsuccessfully) from the top of the tower.
However, it was not over yet! We now had around a month before the awards, during which all the finalists were tasked with racking up as many votes as possible on social media and the Tech4Good website for the People’s Award, voted for entirely by the public.
The morning of the 17th July we got up very excited. Having donned my favourite and brightest bow tie, we all set off for the BT Centre in London. One of the other groups in the Young Pioneers category had my sympathies, having flown all the way from Ireland that morning, while one of our team lived within walking distance! However, it was worth any travel to be there.
Inspirational. That’s the word I walked away with. Truly inspirational. We had a better chance at the awards ceremony than at the networking event to find out about the other innovations, and some were phenomenal. Such as Be My Eyes, an app which helps people who are blind. Via the app, they can get help from any of the millions of volunteers across the world with their every day life. For instance, if they can’t tell if their tie matches their waistcoat (which is not a position I would ever want to be in), one of the volunteers can tell them.
Us Young Pioneers had a long wait for our category winner to be announced. When it came, and they read out all the ideas, I thought for sure we weren’t going to win it. Everyone was so good! However, we had to bear the suspense no longer, for they announced us as the winner! We were over the moon. It is such an honour to be recognised among all the other superb ideas. And, of course, I can’t leave out the chocolate fountain, which definitely lived up to the high expectations that had been set for it throughout the day.
So, there we are. I almost feel tired having related this exciting and inspirational journey. However, we are not finished yet. The year ahead will bring new challenges and excitement as we follow the development and production of our Water Watcher. Watch this space!