Castlebrae Community High School team win The Merchant Company Initiative Prize 2016

Five S4 students from Castlebrae Community High School who designed and built their own pizza oven from recycled materials have won the tenth annual Merchant Company Initiative Prize.

Paul Morris, Peter Wood, Robert Souter, Callum Jordan and Ryan Johnstone, aged 14-15 years, designed and built a wood-fired pizza oven at their school working with teacher, James Donald. The pizza oven was made from recycled materials.  Money is to be raised by donation from those who have enjoyed pizza and will go to Macmillan Cancer Support and The Maggie’s Centre at the Western General Hospital in commemoration of a much loved teacher at the school who recently died of cancer.

The prize challenged enterprising young people aged 13-18 living in and around the Capital to make their ideas a reality. One suggested challenge was for them to “Turn a Tenner” with just a £10 investment in a commercial venture, charity work, a community project, something in the environmental sphere or in the arts…..the sky was the limit.

The competition was open to individuals or a small team with the winners taking away a prize of £500 and two runners up taking away £250 each.


Entrants ran their projects over the summer and reported back at the end of August. Five shortlisted entrants presented their projects to a panel of judges at The Merchants’ Hall in September.

The final three entrants presented their project on 5 October when the judges made their final decision for this year’s winners.

The runners up who both won £250 were Aya Riad and Jade Knowles.

Aya Riad who is 15 years old undertook a series of fund raising activities to raise funds for Medecins Sans Frontieres recognising that for every £10 raised, 21 children can be vaccinated against measles. Activities included a cake sale and contacting businesses to raise money for a raffle prize.

Fourteen year old Jade Knowles created a presentation to win sponsorship for the Physical Handicapped and Able Bodied Club. This involved a presentation, creating an information poster and leaflets, making a three minute film, writing a poem and devising a question and answer quiz.

The prizes were presented by Pat Denzler, Master of The Merchant Company, who said:

“The Merchant Company’s Initiative Prize is a challenge to young people to think creatively. We are keen to see enterprising ideas in business or philanthropy as this is at the core of what the Merchant Company is all about and our membership reflects forty-three professions in Edinburgh.

“We hope that the Initiative Prize will encourage young people to play an active role in their city of Edinburgh and beyond to develop their skills and confidence in their own future.”

Richard Barron, Chairman of the Initiative Prize at The Merchant Company, commented:

“The standard of entries to this year’s competition was excellent and the judges’ decision was not easy. However, the team from Castlebrae Community High School really impressed us with their idea, the motivation behind it, the work they carried out and the standard of the presentation they made to us.  We congratulate them and wish them all the very best for the future.  Thank you also to our other finalists, shortlisted entrants and to everyone who showed an interest in this year’s prize.  We encourage everyone to participate again in 2017.”

Norma Prentice, Headteacher at Castlebrae Community High School, said:

“We are delighted to have won this prestigious award. The staff and parents are so proud of  the pupils involved and are looking forward to many homemade pizzas in the coming months!

“The boys have decided to make a donation from the prize money to Macmillan Cancer in memory of  Stewart Allen, a much respected and inspirational teacher.”


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