Friday, 06 August 2021

BBC Dragon inspires Henley College students

ENTREPRENEUR Sarah Willingham gave an “inspirational” talk to students at The Henley College.

ENTREPRENEUR Sarah Willingham gave an “inspirational” talk to students at The Henley College.

The restaurant expert and member of the BBC’s Dragons’ Den spoke to about 200 people at the collge’s Rotherfield campus on Wednesday.

She spoke about her life experiences and the eight things she had wished she had known in her late teens.

She then spent half an hour answering questions, including how it felt to earn her first £1million, before posing for “selfies” with the A-level students.

Mrs Willingham, 42, who lives in South Oxfordshire, said: “It was brilliant. I don’t do a lot of public speaking but I really like speaking to kids.

“There were so many great questions. I just hope at least one person takes something from it.”

She was introduced by business diploma students Richard Ryding, 18, from Benson, and Emily Geater, 19, from Reading.

Mrs Willingham, a mother of four, said she believed in the power to say no, that life was a journey and that you should never stop learning. She also talked about the benefits of travelling and student gap years.

She also recalled being offered the chance to become a “Dragon” after quitting her regular TV and radio work because was too busy.

Mrs Willingham said: “I got an email asking if I wanted to be in a screen test for Dragons’ Den. I thought are you kidding me? I looked away from the screen and then looked back and it was still there.

“I thought ‘that is kind of what I do. It would be nice to sit in a big comfy chair and have 120 businesses pitch at you’. The rest is history.”

Mrs Willingham’s insisted that A-levels “do matter” after admitting achieving a C grade, two Ds and an E in her exams.

She added: “I did not do well and it haunted me for a long time afterwards.” The students who had introduced her praised her lecture.

Richard said: “I thought it was really inspirational and interesting.”

Emily added: “Every other speaker tells you to say ‘yes’ to everything but Sarah talked about saying ‘no’ and how it is more powerful.”

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