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Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway

John Simkin

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In November, 2006, I received an email from Amy Milton:

I was wondering if you might be able to help me.

I am producing a new show for ITV1 where we have a panel of philanthropists who will be giving away their money to causes they deem worthy.

We are looking for some schools in deprived areas or groups from low income families – or any group of kids that needs funding for school sports trips.

I understand that school trips are extremely important and that at times sadly students are unable to take part due to lack of funding. I would appreciate it if you would send an email out to your mailing list offering this opportunity.

I passed the email onto several of my teaching friends. One of them, Dan Lyndon, will be appeared on ITV1 tonight (Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway). It might be worth watching (8.00).

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It certainly will be! And thanks to John's email there could be 40 extremely fortunate Year 9 students going on an all expenses paid trip for 3 days to the First World War battlefields in France and Belgium. You will have to watch to find out if we are successful!

The journey to the last 100 (who were filmed for the programme out of the 2000 that applied) was an interesting one. After John emailed me, I just knocked off a quick email to Amy outlining my proposal, and she rang back instantly, literally within 15 seconds of the email being sent. Amy invited me to an audition the following saturday in a hotel in Russell Sq where I had a minute to make my pitch. However I couldn't make the date so instead one of the production team came to school and we filmed the pitch there. This was followed by a further email asking me to fill out an application form. A phonecall asking me for dates that I was available for a recording was followed immediately with the disclaimer 'but it doesn't mean necessarily that you are on the show'! Eventually I was told that I was through to the last 100 and could I bring some students to help with the pitch. So about six weeks ago myself, Tony Cotton, one of our learning mentors and 6 boys set off for the 3 mills studio in Bromley-by-Bow. We arrived at about 3.30 and were ushered into a corridor with all the other hopefuls. Fortunately we managed to get a room and the boys were happy enough to eat the chocolate biscuits and crisps that were provided. We were called for a dress rehearsal and told where to stand, and then made our way to one of the spare studios for a final run through and more crisps and chocolate biscuits. At about 7.30 we made our way into the back of the studio, watched the contestants in front of us get hammered by the panel (they were twin illusionists who wanted £15,000 to invent a new illusion - they didn't get the money) and then it was our turn....

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