3rd November 2021 — More than 50,000 teenagers from 170 countries initially entered the Rise Challenge - which was launched by former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, and his wife, Wendy, in association with the Rhodes Trust - to identify 100 talented youngsters, aged 15 to 17, who have the potential to use their talents to tackle the planet’s most pressing issues.
Thomas’ ‘big idea’ is to create a global stammering app to offer speech and language therapy to individuals around the world who currently have little or no access to support services. Thomas hopes to bring together charities to share resources and expertise and create a global community of stammerers.
And by becoming one of the 100 Rise global winners, and one of only five from the UK, Thomas, who hopes to study physics at Oxford from next September, will now receive a lifetime of personalised support.
This includes a fully paid scholarship to any accredited university in the world, a technology package from Eric Schmidt, and an automatic invitation to attend an annual fully funded residential summit, the first of which will be held in South Africa next July.
In addition, he will also obtain mentorship, career services, and access to further funding to develop his idea to benefit others, a prize value that could exceed $500,000 for each global winner.
Thomas’ picture, together with that of the other 99 winners, has featured in the latest edition of Forbes Magazine below the headline, Inside Google Billionaire Eric Schmidt’s $1 Billion Moon Shot Plan To Fund The World’s Most Promising Teens. The competition has also been covered in Time Magazine.
Back in May, Thomas was stunned to learn he was one 500 to be shortlisted for his ‘big idea’ inspired by his stammering, which won him one thousand dollars to be put towards specialist training and the opportunity to apply for funding from various Rise Partners.
To reach this stage, he had submitted 14 video responses to various challenges, as well as spending more than 50 hours developing his ‘big idea’.
And over the summer, the 17-year-old, a member of national charity Action for Stammering Children’s youth panel, participated in a series of grueling interviews.
Thomas said: “I heard the news during my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award expedition in the Yorkshire Dales. As I descended one of the hills, my phone, which had had no signal, started pinging with missed calls, messages and emails from The Rhodes Trust.
“The Rhodes Trust called me back and confirmed the wonderful news. I’m feeling ecstatic, and really can’t quite comprehend what it means to be one of the 100 Global Rise winners. It’s just amazing.
“I have met so many inspirational young people through this competition, and I am so proud and humbled to have been chosen as a winner alongside them.
“I’m now trying to refocus my mind back to my Oxford University PAT (Physics Aptitude Test), which I’m taking this week.”
Ashville College Head Rhiannon Wilkinson said: “This is a remarkable achievement for Thomas, and we couldn’t be more proud of him.
“To be chosen as one of the Rise 100 Global Winners is a testament to his sheer determination not to let his stammer hold him back and of course, his tremendous hard work and ability.
“It’s also a credit to Ashville’s Learning Support team led by Lucy Mullender. Our vision is for our pupils to become better versions off themselves, and Thomas is the very embodiment of that.”
Steven Gauge, CEO of Action for Stammering Children said: “We were thrilled for Thomas when he had made it through to the last 500. Now, as one of the Rise 100 Global Winners, we couldn’t be happier, or prouder of this achievement.
“Thomas is already a role model for younger stammerers, and this will increase his standing even further as it demonstrates that if you have a stammer there are no limits to what one can achieve.”
For more information about Ashville College please visit https://www.ashville.co.uk/