Norfolk young entrepreneurs in action

Peter WalshPupils swapped the classroom for a lesson in hard sell over the weekend at an event where they tried to persuade the public to part with their hard-earned cash to buy an array of hand-crafted products.Peter Walsh

Pupils swapped the classroom for a lesson in hard sell over the weekend at an event where they tried to persuade the public to part with their hard-earned cash to buy an array of hand-crafted products.

The country might only be slowly beginning to emerge from the ravages of recession but that did not deter the young entrepreneurs from schools across the county who were at the Forum in Norwich on Saturdayas part of the Young Enterprise Trade Fair.

The young salesmen and women demonstrated an eagerness and determination that would have impressed even Sir Alan Sugar himself.

The youngsters set up stands selling their own products - from customised photo frames to gardening gifts - with money from the sale of goods helping to generate income for the individual companies they had formed from scratch especially for the event.

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Bill McSweeney, area board chairman of Young Enterprise Norfolk, which organised the event, said the trade fair not only gave youngsters the chance to sell items they had made, but also helped give them an insight into the world of business.

He said: 'They've all been through the process of setting up a company, writing a business plan, selling shares with all the rewards and pitfalls that brings.'

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Schools that took part in the event, which is part of Aviva's Young Enterprise Business Awards scheme, included Sewell Park College, Wymondham High, Wymondham College, Norwich School, and Norwich High School for Girls.

In total 11 schools participated with each team paying �30 to have a stand at the Forum. Any money they made over that amount being theirs to keep in profit.

During the trade fair prizes were awarded for best product, best display, and best team work with the winning teams each given �30 - meaning that everything they made from the day was pure profit.

The prize for best product went to Growing Up from Wymondham College which produced gardening tools for children, while the prize for best team work went to teenagers from Wymondham High School who formed the group Wymondham 1.

The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Eve Collishaw, awarded the prize for best display to the Top Notch team from Sewell Park College which sold hand-made flowers and customised photo frames for mother's day.

Ruba Begum, 15, who was part of the Top Notch team, said: 'We were really happy - there are a lot of good displays here.'

She said the whole event had been a real eye-opener in terms of starting a business from scratch and what was involved in the process.

She said: 'Mainly how much effort it takes to set up something - and that anyone can. You don't have to be really successful.'

Oliver Pilsbury-Gaunt, 16, from Wymondham College's Growing Up team, said: 'We've had good fun taking part in Young Enterprise. We've all put in a lot of effort. At times it's been hard and at times it's been easy, but it's all been worth it.'

The area finals of the Young Enterprise Norfolk Awards takes place at the Open venue in Norwich on May 12.

Are you a successful young entrepreneur? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email

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