The BBC visited William Howard this week with their ‘Share Your Story’ project. The BBC 100 Share Your Story project was launched to mark their centenary celebrations. It’s an initiative that aims to build pupils’ resilience and confidence in storytelling, whilst introducing students to exciting careers within broadcasting that they may previously have never considered, or even heard of.

Students in Years 7 to 10 welcomed host and BBC Radio 1 presenter, Sarah Story along with special guests Kim Boak, BBC Bitesize Producer, and BBC Cumbria Senior Journalist, Ben Meader. The guests took to the stage to talk about their lives and share how their journey led them to their current roles within the BBC. Ben Meader revealed how he found his career locally after changing pathways. He has covered large events such as the Olympics and wanted to urge students ‘not to give up’, saying ‘a setback can actually be a steppingstone’.

Kim Boak spoke about resilience when she encountered some harsh criticism early in her TV career because of her Carlisle accent but explained how important it is to be true to your roots. Kim has worked on large events such as Sports Personality of the Year and on programmes such as Blue Peter and Would I Lie to You. She is currently the Producer for BBC Bitesize and is now often asked to provide voice overs for other programmes due to her northern accent.

Presenter Sarah Story, originally from Carlisle, fronts Radio 1’s Future Dance after taking over from Annie Mac. Sarah started her broadcasting career at the age of 16 co-presenting Saturday Morning Breakfast on CFM. During her years she has presented many shows on Capital FM, including Capital Breakfast and Drivetime shows across the UK, as well as hosting the Capital Weekender with Ministry of Sound on the Capital Network every Friday and Saturday night from Leicester Square in London.

During each hourly slot in the day, two student ambassadors from William Howard shared their story with the panel and the audience. Year 13 student Connor Dixon’s story was inspirational – charting his sporting journey and positive mindset. Nazia Sarvan (Year 7) spoke about moving to Cumbria from Cape Town and how drama in school has allowed her to meet new friends and build her confidence. Natasha Fell (Year 13) spoke of how she didn’t allow herself to be defeated by a serious knee injury and is now a football referee. Finally, Zach Ealey spoke of how his involvement in Performing Arts helped build his confidence – to illustrate, he gave a fantastic performance on piano of a Paulo Nutini song with lyrics that reflected his journey.

Each ambassador session ended with Q&As where a microphoned rugby ball was passed to questioners in the audience and some searching questions were addressed to the panel. Videos highlighting how the BBC have been storytelling for 100 years were shown and students were challenged to write their own story involving Stormzy and David Attenborough! Most importantly, students were encouraged to share their stories through the BBC’s Young Reporter Scheme.

The BBC Team were so impressed with our Student Ambassadors that they have offered them various opportunities to present and perform in the future. The producer praised all the student audiences for their engagement with the celebration today and commented on how well presented and well-mannered the students were.

Details of Young Reporters can be found at: BBC Young Reporter Competition 2022 – BBC Teach.