The other day, my brother told my mum that he wanted to go on lots of trips like me when he goes to high school after summer. My mum told him that in order to get to do all the fun stuff you have to be willing to put in the hard work. She was right – and this week featured one of the amazing pay offs for all the work I’ve put in.
I travelled down to London on Sunday to help out at the Apps for Good Awards and receive and award myself – Apps for Good Fellow of the Year. I was super excited to go as London is one of my favourite places. I travelled the 700+ miles with my computing teacher Mr Aitken, his Granny and Kerry and Freya, the two team members of PocketCook who were pitching their hands free cooking app on Monday. The journey took over 9 hours, which was much longer than it should have been as our plane and train were delayed – but you get used to all the travelling when you live in a place like Caithness and eventually appreciate that the travelling can be just as fun as the trip itself .
Monday was the big day. Granny Pat and team PocketCook left in the morning to visit Salesforce as part of a morning workshop. Mr Aitken and I navigated the underground to the Barbican Centre, where the awards ceremony was going to be held. We got soaked walking to the station and ended up taking an unnecessarily long route in an ultimately failed attempt to avoid the rain, but I love the buzz of the underground so I wasn’t complaining. That morning I met with other Apps for Good Fellows. Fellows are those of us who have completed the Apps for Good (AfG) course but have signed up to continue working with AfG by helping out at events etc.
One particular Fellow I really clicked with was Sophie Willis (another AfG Fellow of the Year). I ended up spending the all day with Sophie – it’s so nice to find someone who is as passionate about computing as I am. We have so much in common, it’s amazing to think that if it weren’t for the AfG Fellowship we would never have even met!
We then took part in a workshop run by 123 Reg where we looked at what makes a good business name and website. In fact, Nick Leech from 123 Reg who helped lead the session wrote a blog post about the workshop and mentions me in it. You can read it here – he even calls me ‘A tech star of the future’. Thanks Nick!
After lunch, we met with some of the student teams and judges as they started to arrive. I then took part in a panel session in front of the judges where Debbie Forster (Co-CEO of AfG) asked a handful of us fellows some questions about AfG and what we have and continue to gain from the course.
Then it was time for the winners to be announced. I was so nervous for PocketCook and couldn’t wait to find out if they had won. But before all of that Bob Shukai from Thomson Reuters made a really great point. He said that hearing a ‘no’ doesn’t mean it’s the end, it just means someone doesn’t have enough information to say ‘yes’ yet. He also mentioned how this applied to me – my app didn’t even get to the final but I still continued working on it. Unfortunately PocketCook didn’t win, but I hope that they and all the other teams will continue to work on their app like I’m doing.
On Tuesday we spent the day in London. We visited the British Museum first. There were some really fascinating exhibits… and we also managed to accidently explode a bottle of 7 Up all over the floor outside the shop – oops 😉 We then went to Camden market and got street food for lunch before we headed off to Thomson Reuters so that Mr Aitken could drop some things off. In April this year I did some work experience at TR (you can read about it here) so I lead everyone through the underground and walked to the office in Mark Square. I could sense that everyone didn’t think I knew where I was going but they underestimated my memory because I knew exactly where to go! I had already seen some of the people I had met from TR at the awards ceremony on Monday, including Daniel Lewington who was one of the judges. I didn’t know he was going to be there and he didn’t know I was going to be there; it was good to see him!
Anyway, after that we headed to the airport and started the long journey home. I have to admit I really didn’t want to get on that plane. I had so much fun, I just didn’t want it to end. But that’s the thing though isn’t it? All good things must come to an end so that something new can start.
So thank you Apps for Good for letting me attend my first ever AfG Awards and selecting me as a Fellow of the Year – I really did have an amazing time!