Twelve-year-old Abbie Wallace from Furnace Primary School scooped the top prize in the LapSafe nationwide TECHBOT Competition. On Tuesday, she received her prizes in a surprise presentation that took place at her rural school in the beautiful village of Furnace, in Argyll.
Abbie and the other eight students at the school were kept in the dark about a surprise visitor to their school on Tuesday. Only their teacher, head teacher and Abbie’s parents were aware that she had won and had managed to keep it a secret from Abbie and her friends. Abbie’s robot was chosen as the winner from more than 4,000 entries from around the UK.
Myself and two other members of the LapSafe Team travelled to Scotland on Monday afternoon with the prizes for Abbie and her school. The prizes consisted of a brand new LapSafe ClassBuddy™ ‘Charge & Sync’ trolley, five brand-new iPad Airs complete with cases for her school and an iPad and case for Abbie to keep for herself. Both the trolley and the cases all had Abbie’s artwork on. All the prizes were safely sorted overnight ready to spring the surprise on the unsuspecting winner the following day.
The sun was warm on Tuesday when we travelled the last leg of the 1000 mile round trip to present the school with their gifts. Arriving in the village of Furnace at 1pm, we were smuggled through a back door by the happy and very excited teachers and staff while the children were enjoying playtime following their lunch.
Furnace school is situated in the village of Furnace on the banks of Loch Fyne, it is around 20 minutes from the town of Inveraray. Breath-taking scenery surrounds this picturesque school, and with only nine pupils ages ranging from 5-11 it was clear to see that these prizes will make a huge difference to the teachers and the children at this delightful rural school.
Parents of all nine pupils had been invited to attend the presentation along with Councillor Donnie MacMillan, Depute Policy Lead for Education from Argyll and Bute council.
At 2pm when everyone was seated, the children were brought in to the main classroom while I explained our presence and what was hiding under the sheet in the classroom! The room fell silent until it was revealed that the winner of the Techbot Art Competition they had all entered back in February, was in fact here in their classroom! Gasps and looks of wonder filled the room. It was then down to me to share the wonderful news. I asked for a drum roll, which the children, teachers and parents obliged with with stomping of feet. I then announced that Abbie Wallace had won with her wonderful robot drawing, ‘Anti- Bully-Bot Bob’! Cheers and clapping echoed around the room as I lifted off the sheet to reveal Abbie’s design, which had been placed on the doors of the Classbuddy™ Charge & Sync trolley. Abbie’s face was a picture of complete astonishment and surprise.
Apple Disguised Educator, Paul Hutton who had the huge task for judging the TechBot competition sent Abbie a personal message of congratulations, which was played via video in his absence.
Councillor Donnie Macmillian said when he presented the prizes, “I feel honoured to be asked to be here today to present Abbie with her prize. I have known Abbie’s family for many years and I know her family will be very proud of what she has achieved winning this UK wide competition. I would also like to thank the staff here at Furnace school for their continued dedication hard work and support to their pupils, and for encouraging them to take part in the competition. Thank you also to Paul Hutton for what sounds like a huge task and taking the time to look through over 4,000 entries and of course for choosing Abbie’s design as the winning entry. Finally, a very big thank you to LapSafe® Products for these wonderful prizes that have been awarded to Abbie and to the school, they will make such a huge difference to the staff and pupils here at Furnace Primary”.
Photos were taken by the local newspaper and tea and cakes were enjoyed following the presentation, which gave me the opportunity to speak to Abbie to see how she felt about the surprise of winning the competition. She said, “I didn’t have a clue that I had won and was amazed that my Mum and Dad had managed to keep the secret from me. It feels really weird to see my design on the iPad case and on the front of the trolley, I was really shocked when you took the cover off the prizes, I couldn’t believe it was my design. “I also asked Abbie why she had chosen bullying as her theme for her robot design. She explained, “I chose the subject as I had been bullied myself at another school a few years ago and it isn’t very nice. I thought it would be good if there was a robot that could stop any bulling straight away and that cared about everybody.”
Abbie’s Mum Eileen, who was also present for the presentation with Abbie’s Dad said she feels thrilled and very proud of Abbie. Eileen told me, “You enter these competitions but never expect a little rural school like ours to win, it’s just wonderful. This is Abbie’s last week at primary school before she starts high school in September. The impact of the prize for this school will be lifelong”.
Head Teacher Debbie Munroe, said, “All of our pupils will benefit from these wonderful prizes from LapSafe. We will still be feeling the benefits even when Abbie has finished all her education. That is a wonderful legacy to leave behind, we are so very proud of Abbie and all our pupils here at Furnace”.