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Business student defies the odds to win £25,000 scholarship for top UK university

A BUSINESS student who was once told he would “never be successful” is celebrating after receiving a £25,000 scholarship to study at one of the country’s top universities.

Will King, a second year Level 3 Business student at the Grimsby Institute, has been awarded the Kingham Scholarship to study a BSc Business Enterprise degree at the University of Buckingham.

But less than two years ago, the 18-year old was preparing to leave secondary school with no GCSE qualifications after a fall-out with teaching staff.

“I was home schooled for a while because a teacher told me that I’d never be successful at anything,” he explained. “I disagreed, so decided to leave.”

Despite Will’s lack of qualifications, Reece Leggett, Business Programme Leader at the Institute, saw something in the teenager and enrolled him onto a Level 2 course.

However it soon became apparent Will was capable of studying at a higher level and, following discussions with Reece, was moved onto a Level 3.

“I’ve had an interesting route; I’ve never done anything the typical way,” said Will. “Reece has had faith in me the whole way though, and hopefully now it’s paid off.”

That show of faith included encourage Will to apply for the prestigious scholarship last November, after a visit to Buckinghamshire to forge better relations.

“They said they don’t get many applications from the north and asked him to suggest someone, so he put me forward.

“In order to apply I had two weeks to do a 20-page business plan for the business I would run while on the course.

“I spent most nights working on it, during which Reece was amazing. He gave me a lot of leeway because I was at the university library until 3 or 4am a lot of mornings.

“I must have spent about 100 hours on it during that two week period.”

The application was sent off at the start of December and in mid-January Will got the call to present his pitch to the university’s venture capital panel.

However as he travelled to Buckinghamshire to present on February 1, his story took “another unusual turn”.

“I had to take three trains and a bus and got there the night before, but when I opened my laptop I found the PowerPoint presentation had become corrupted somewhere along the way.

“One thing Reece told me was that I could always rely on my presentation skills because that’s a strong point, so I just told myself to relax.

“I went in to the pitch and assured them they were missing out on a world-class presentation, which really put us at ease and helped stamp my personality on it.”

Three days after the presentation he received confirmation of his success from the university, which was awarded top spot for teaching quality in this year’s Sunday Times Good University Guide.

“It was an incredible moment,” said Will. “I’m the youngest of five so my family were really happy and proud, but also a little sad that it was confirmed I’d be leaving.

“I just felt very humbled. It’s one of those things, if I get a bit down about my ability, I can go back to in my head and use as a driving factor to get through to the end.”

The two year condensed degree will start on September 27, the day after Will’s 19th birthday.

Part of the course will see the panel invest up to £5,000 in his idea, which he will use to set up and run the company.

“The business idea I pitched was around connecting students with employers, to try and bridge the gap between academic students and the business environment.

“A lot of students don’t know how to behave in a professional setting, so this gives them a forum to get their name out there and find out information.”

The scholarship is up to £25,000 across the two years, after which Will plans to study for a PhD.

“My dream is to retire at 36. I’m not one of those people driven by money though, when I retire I want to know I’ve done something that’s made people’s lives easier.

“This business is all about giving students the help they need to transition into a professional environment.”

Praising the Grimsby Institute as well as Reece, Will said his experience at college has been “absolutely incredible”.

“I can’t give Reece enough credit. I’ve never had many teachers encourage me, just people who want to get you in and out of the class.

“Reece has been interested in where I want to take my career, as opposed to where other people want to take it, and how to get there.

“He’s already asked me to do a talk here about the scholarship to hopefully encourage others to apply, which I’m really looking forward to.

“This is one of the opportunities that, being from a town like Grimsby, I never thought I’d get.

“All of a sudden you receive this incredible opportunity that can be completely life changing if I capitalise on it in the way I hope.”

Reece said: “He has done this by himself with a little support from myself with his business plan. It’s been an utter pleasure to see him develop and be his Programme Leader.

“It’s also great to see that our plan to change business into a more entrepreneurial curriculum is slowly but surely seeing results. I’m beaming with pride!”