A Seaham schoolgirl was thrilled to win a competition to design a reading bench for her primary school. Millie Devlin-Munroe’s design was the overall chosen entry at St Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary School, which is part of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust (BCCET), for the annual Ambic STEM Challenge competition.

Bespoke furniture manufacturers, Ambic, based in the North-east, launched a competition in 2022 for schools to design their own piece of educational furniture. The winners have their designs turned into a real piece of furniture at no cost to the schools. The finalists are offered a full STEM day where the children are taught about manufacturing roles and processes and given a challenge to build a self-supporting structure with limited materials.

Millie, who is now a Year 7 pupil at Peterlee’s St Bede’s Catholic School & Byron Sixth Form College, which is also part of BCCET, said: “I really enjoyed the process from my first design and taking part in the STEM day at school, to visiting the factory and making decisions in the design options. The best part was going back to St Mary Magdalen’s and seeing my completed bench! I hope it inspires future children at St Mary Magdalen’s to read and know anything is possible.

The school took part in the Ambic STEM Challenge in the spring term and were told in the summer that Millie had won the competition. During the summer holidays, she worked with the manufacturers at the Ambic factory to make the bench and the finished item of furniture was delivered to school in December.

The new reading bench will form part of the school’s new reading area.

Headteacher Andrea Goodwin said: “The Ambic STEM Challenge tied in really well with our STEM objectives for British Science Week, so it was a great way for the whole school to be involved in a project.

Millie created a fantastic design and was our school’s overall winner, so we entered Millie’s design as our entry. We were absolutely thrilled to find out she was shortlisted and the whole community got involved to promote and vote for it. When we found out she won, we were thrilled for Millie. She was absolutely over the moon; it was a lovely boost for her. Millie went to Ambic’s factory to see the finished product.

Ambic has been very supportive and came in to hold a STEM event with the Key Stage 2 children. It was an amazing day and they still talk about it now!

For more information on BCCET, please visit www.bccet.org.uk.

Press release issued by SASS media on behalf of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust. For more information, contact Sarah Dale on 07814 976582.