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Competition winners hoping to meet David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough will will give an address at the event hosted by Sir Tom Hunter next week.

Attenborough: Pupils hoping to meet broadcaster.
Attenborough: Pupils hoping to meet broadcaster.

School pupils are hoping to meet Sir David Attenborough after winning a competition to attend a dinner where he is guest speaker.

The broadcaster and naturalist will give an address at the event hosted by Sir Tom Hunter in Edinburgh next week.

Previous events held by the Hunter Foundation have attracted speakers including Barack and Michelle Obama, and raised more than #1 million for charities.

This year, the foundation ran a competition offering secondary school pupils the chance to win a table for 10 at the dinner at the National Museum of Scotland on Tuesday.

Pupils submitted a written or filmed piece on what their school would do if given the opportunity to address the global climate emergency.

The foundation said judges found it impossible to choose an overall winner from the 187 entries due to the high standards on show, and so awarded tables to three schools – Denny High School, George Heriot’s School and Perth Grammar School.

Three Denny High School pupils created their winning short film, Do It Days, which recommended schools across Scotland introduce actions for each school day – meatless Monday, turn off Tuesday, walking Wednesday, no throw away Thursday and fruity Friday – to cut carbon emissions.

The pupils, Payton Airlie and sisters Kayla and Zoe Bennie, said they are all fans of Sir David, with one saying she would hug him if they met.

Payton, 14, said: “If we get to meet him that would be absolutely amazing.”

Zoe, also 14, said she was “jumping up and down” when she found out they were among the winners, and she is “really excited” about the dinner.

She added: “I’ve never had an opportunity to do something like this in my life.”

Kayla, 15, said the group were encouraged to enter the competition through the school Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) club they attend, adding: “I thought it was really interesting because it will affect our futures and we wanted to make a difference.”

Acting rector Jamie Vaughn-Sharp said he is not sure if pupils will meet Sir David but he hopes they will get the chance.

He said the school currently operates some of the days the video suggests and hopes to bring in more.

The Perth Grammar entry calls for a new system created by pupils to make schools more sustainable, while George Heriot’s submission portrays the introduction of an annual school sustainability summit.

Sir Tom said: “To be honest all the schools and pupils who participated were winners, but these three remarkable entries from Denny High School.

George Heriot’s School and Perth Grammar School shone out.

“The incredible participation in this competition shows the generation we have let down by our actions won’t let their actions compound our negligence, quite the reverse.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive of event sponsors Zero Waste Scotland, said: “The winners all presented an understanding of the issues and a range of practical ideas for tackling the climate emergency.”


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