Last Thursday, we were thrilled to welcome two VIP visitors from the University of Manchester: Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University and Professor Brian Cox, Professor of Particle Physics.
Our guests were greeted and taken on a tour by the two young Chairs of our ‘Voice’ groups that have a say in how the youth zone is run. Lewis Saunders, 16, Chair of Mahdlo’s Senior Voice group said, “We were told that there were visitors coming but not who they were – so I couldn’t believe it when they arrived! What an honour to be able to show them round and represent Mahdlo.”
Four local primary schools were invited to bring groups along for an activity session during the tour, with pupils from Holy Cross C of E Primary School, St. Hilda’s C of E Primary School, Westwood Academy and Green Hill Academy taking part in fun-packed activities including dodgeball, hockey, dance, climbing and arts and crafts.
Attendees had not been told in advance who the guests were going to be, only that there was a ‘VIP visit’, so having Oldham-born Professor Cox come to the youth zone was a wonderful surprise. Sam Lynch, 18, a volunteer here at Mahdlo said, “I was ecstatic when I found out that Professor Brian Cox was one of the VIPs. I have a huge amount of respect for him and his work and find everything he does immensely interesting. Hopefully I will get a selfie – I literally exploded with excitement when I found out!”
Following the tour, the guests took part in an inspiring Q&A session including students from Hulme Grammar School, North Chadderton School and GM UTC, and a group of Mahdlo’s volunteers, mentors and mentees. They discussed aspirations and opportunities in further and higher education, highlighting areas where young people might not realise there are job opportunities – the room was surprised to hear there is a global shortage of spaceship engineers! Professor Cox praised the opportunities Mahdlo offers to young people, commenting that he wished there had been somewhere like it when he was growing up in Oldham.
Nicholas Rattue, 20, has just joined the Mahdlo team as a Mentor. Having won the North West Science and Technology Championship as a boy at school, he was thrilled to be invited to the talk: “Professor Cox is undoubtedly the most famous contemporary Physicist in Britain and as he also hails from Oldham it was great to hear what advice he might have for the young minds of the area. Professor Rothwell is also an incredibly prestigious scientist with an impressive career, so to hear her remind the room that University and further education is an attainable goal for anyone with a desire to follow that path really was inspiring. Both speakers have a genuine passion for their fields and wanted more than anything to remind the younger generation that there are people who want them to achieve and do well in life.”
The visit also highlighted the potential for partnership working and opening up opportunities at the Youth Zone as a number of volunteers from University of Manchester worked alongside the Mahdlo team to deliver the activity sessions. Professor Rothwell commented, “This really is an impressive facility and I am really proud of the link between the University of Manchester and Mahdlo.”
You can see more images from the visit and keep up to date with Mahdlo news on our Facebook page.