Teddy gets a funkier bedtime story now

24th June 2005 at 01:00
Traditional fairy stories such as Little Red Riding Hood and the Ugly Duckling have been given a funky modern makeover, courtesy of Year 10 pupils from a south Wales valleys comprehensive.

Having updated them in 21st-century lingo, students from Blackwood comprehensive, Caerphilly, cajoled celebrities such as film and stage actor Matthew Rhys into reading them for a bilingual CD of seven bedtime stories.

The business project swept the board at a regional heat of the young enterprise awards.

Despite competing against sixth-form teams from private schools, including Rougement in Newport and Haberdashers' girls in Monmouth, the Blackwood 14 and 15-year-olds won best product, best presentation and best overall company.

They are hoping to continue their winning streak at the Welsh finals of the awards at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff next week.

The Blackwood CD, which also features the voices of Welsh personalities Boyd Clack, Brian Hibbard and Sarra Elgan, is being stocked by Virgin Megastores in Cardiff, Mothercare in south Wales and Mabon a Mabli, a sub-company of Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin, the Welsh-medium pre-school groups association.

A quarter of the pound;11.99 retail price will go to the Noah's Ark appeal for Cardiff's children's hospital. The 16-strong Blackwood team, which operates under the name Infusion, is headed up by "managing director" Zoe Purves.

"We had a brainstorming session and came up with the name Infusion because it wouldn't tie us into any one product," said 14-year-old Zoe.

"After carrying out some market research we found that there was a gap in the market for bilingual audiocassettes of bedtime stories for the under-fives.

"But after reading the original fairy stories we thought that they sounded quite stuffy. Olden-times language would be boring for the young ones to listen to, so we rewrote them to make them sound modern."

Andrew Winn, link teacher for the young enterprise scheme and maths teacher at the school, said he was blown away by the quality of the pupils' work.

"We have taken part in this competition for five years now, and this is the best product we've ever had by far," he said.

"The team has done everything with such style. And they've worked extremely hard. Their success is all down to their own efforts - working lunchtimes and after school in order to meet tight deadlines."

Boyd Clack, writer of the BBC Wales comedy series High Hopes, read Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast.

"They're an admirable bunch of young people," he said. "They've really hit the spot by creating a product that's attractive, well-packaged and that fills a gap in the market.

"Most importantly, the project has raised their self-esteem, which means so much in terms of what you achieve."

Keith Brown, from the bank HSBC, acted as the pupils' business link, attending "board meetings" with them on a regular basis.

"Interest from Virgin and Mothercare is a major endorsement. Companies like these don't stock items from the goodness of their hearts," he said.

This is a high-quality product, and it's all credit to the team for having the inspiration and the motivation to get it off the ground."

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