Young people, athletes, teachers and AQA volunteers all came together for a fantastic close to the AQA Unlocking Potential 2016 programme in London.

Excitement and pride was high as the 72 students who successfully passed through the transformational programme looked back at the year and were recognised for their commitment, progress and achievements.

Two teenage students braved the audience of around 100 people to share their remarkable and unique journeys while on the programme. Archie, 18 from Bexley Grammar school spoke about how AQA Unlocking Potential and his relationship with GB Taekwondo player and athlete mentor Romaine Bailey helped boost his confidence.

Archie said: “Before AQA Unlocking Potential I used to hide behind others and lacked belief in myself. The programme has given me so much confidence and helped me to come out of my shell.”

Josh, 18 also from the school in Bexley shared how the overall experience has helped him to become more focused and determined to make something of himself. Before the programme, Josh describes himself as a naughty kid with no attention span. Thanking his teacher Steph and Romaine for not giving up on him, Josh recalls there was a point he thought he would be expelled.

Josh said: “I used to be a naughty boy but now I’m a senior prefect which I never thought I’d be and other students look up to me as a model student. AQA Unlocking Potential has been the key to the door of my success”

There was also the return of Class of 2015 Graduate Sophie Godden who found her happiness and confidence restored as a a result of AQA Unlocking Potential and meeting her athlete mentor.

After struggling to come to terms with the death of her mother and ‘best friend’ Sophie, then 14, found it difficult to open up and communicate with others, finding herself regressing and losing touch with the world around her. From her first mentoring session with Triple jumper Michelle Griffith Robinson, Sophie felt like she had found her ‘ray of sunshine’ and a strong role model to help her through her dark days.

Sophie received a huge round of applause when she shared how she’s since become a peer mentor and now gives back to other young people in her school.

Our Head of Athlete Programmes and retired Commonwealth medallist swimmer Adam Whitehead hosted the event which celebrated the success of the students and the programme. Each student was invited to the stage to collect a certificate and Amazon gift voucher and enjoyed getting to meet the athletes, other students and the rest of the Trust team.