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13 June 2012: Three GCSE students got the chance to take a break from their revision schedule and enjoy an amazing day out when they were given tickets to the FA Cup Final and a backstage tour, all thanks to ITV Sport and a very generous SHINE Supporter.

“It was really good,” says Tarah Herelle, one of the three young people chosen for the trip. “We got a tour of Wembley Stadium and all around backstage, and we were lucky enough to go into one of the mobile stations and see how all the camera tricks were done.”

And the excitement didn’t end there. “We actually went past quite a few famous people – I don’t know their names but I know they were famous. We even had a chance to talk to them briefly, so we were totally starstruck.”

The squad

The day was perfect for Tarah, who has been a football fan “since birth” – just like her fellow students, Levi Miller and Cornelius Wilton-Waddell. Stepladder FA Cup Final 2012All three of them attend Stepladder, which supports 14-16 year olds at risk of falling short just when it matters most. Regular Saturday workshops improve key learning skills and help students map out their future. Between workshops, every student receives support (such as extra tuition) that is tailored to their own, personal needs.

On the day, the three students were accompanied by Oliver Dunn, who says that the experience was much more than just a fun day out. “When we were going around ITV’s production studios they had the chance to talk to some of the producers and crew to find out a bit more about what they did and the sort of skills and experience that you need to get jobs like these.”

Over the moon

“We were shown around by a runner for ITV Sport,” says Tarah. “She told us how she got the job just by applying online. We’re all really into sport and I would consider TV presenting as a career, but really I want to be a physio – that’s been my dream for a long time.”

Oliver continues: “This was obviously a big day for the production team so I was really surprised about how much they were prepared to speak to us – you’d think that they were far too busy. There was a really nice atmosphere, it was really bustling and the young people really picked up on the energy that was coming from the ITV crew – they really, really enjoyed it.”

Tough selection

So just how did the lucky three find themselves at Wembley? After buying the ITV Sport package at our Benefit Dinner last November, the winning bidder selflessly donated it to some hard-working SHINE students. Oliver and his colleagues at Stepladder began by shortlisting students “who we felt would really get something special out of it,” says Alison Jones, Stepladder’s Founder.

They then turned the final decision over to the students themselves. “It worked really well,” says Alison. “Some students told us how much they wanted to go – and then voted for someone else. That was fantastic to see.”

Next season

Tarah, Levi and Cornelius are currently sitting their GCSE exams ahead of starting sixth form college in September. However, they have also found the time to start planning a presentation about their experience that they will give at the Stepladder graduation ceremony in July.

We wish them – and all their fellow students at Stepladder – the best of luck in their GCSEs and their future studies. We are also enormously grateful to everyone at ITV Sport for making the day such a huge success. Finally, a big thank you to the incredibly generous SHINE Supporter who bought and donated this superb experience and made three hard-working students very, very happy.