Lee Collins, Ambassador for Potential Plus UK, writes about his reasons for supporting children with high learning potential.

As this is my first blog I thought it would be worthwhile setting out the reasons why I became an ambassador for Potential Plus UK.  And like all good ideas of mine everything was going to plan until I attended the charity’s 50th Anniversary event at Cranfield University last weekend. The reason for the change I will elaborate on later but to try to at least keep some semblance to my original intent I’d like to formally introduce myself; or perhaps given the medium informally may be a more accurate term?  However I digress.

I failed at school, academically at least. I eventually left with 5 CSE’s; for those brought up on GCSE’s a CSE probably equates to a grade D or E GCSE; hardly an auspicious start for someone who only a year or so beforehand was regarded as being of University material, specifically Loughborough University and Physics. Not that I really knew what being University material really meant, as far as I was concerned I simply liked Physics and the rest of the subjects were easy enough to get by without having to apply myself too greatly.

Where the downfall came from I think is perhaps a subject for another blog, but as to how I came to find Potential Plus UK is perhaps worth a mention. I was busy performing some research for my MBA, investigating the link between workplace engagement and employee purpose, when a Google © search returned numerous results for the Potential Plus UK; I think the actual search term I used was “potential plus purpose”; serendipitous to say the least.

The next hour or so was spent poking round the Potential Plus UK website which culminated in my sending of an email to the charity explaining my interest and investigating whether there was any way in which I could help. Several emails and a few phone conversations later Denise asked if I would like to become an Ambassador for the charity; an opportunity I readily took up. Fast forward to the present day and it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day with which to put to the charity’s use. I tend to focus on finding corporate partners who are willing to support the charity in some way. It can be a fairly thankless task at times, suffering the numerous rejections that anyone in the field of sales and fundraising will be more than aware of; but all in all the pros far outweigh the cons, and when wins are obtained they give the best feeling ever. Ying and Yang in action; to appreciate the highs you have to have experienced the lows.

Prior to being interviewed at the 50th Anniversary event, I always thought my main driver for becoming an Ambassador was my own struggles with the education system, my subsequent academic failure and the impacts this has had on my life; impacts it has to be said that follow me to this day. But having had time to pause for thought it seems that there is more to my work for the charity than I first thought.

Yes, I work as an Ambassador because I believe in the charity and the work that it does, and yes, this is absolutely driven by my knowledge and experience of what it means to be an academic failure and the devastating effects this can have on one’s quality of life. The response I gave to the interview question posed by the roving young reporter was also absolutely valid in that my work as an Ambassador does give me an immense sense of purpose and a sense of wellbeing in that I am at least attempting to do something that may mean some child may never have to experience what it means to be gifted and talented but unable to be seen as such.

But on reflection I have also come to realise that my dominant reason for being an Ambassador is the hope that it gives the children we help an understanding of their purpose, and that this then allows them to realise and understand who they are and so become better able to reach their potential. For it is when academia finishes that the full realisation of what it means to be gifted and talented in a World designed around the median really becomes apparent; a realisation I believe that cannot be started too early.