Olivia, 17, hails Jill Dando News as scheme she founded aged 12 celebrates fifth birthday

By Jill Dando News

Olivia, 17, of The King Alfred School Academy in Highbridge has joined dozens of reporters across Somerset to celebrate the unique Jill Dando News scheme she helped to start five years ago.

Olivia was founding student reporter at Jill’s old school, Worle Community School Academy (WCSA) before heading to one of Britain’s best Sixth Forms, TKASA last September.

“We focus on good news to remember what she was like and what she did. She was the smiling face of Great Britain’.”

Olivia Finch

Now the unique scheme she helped start has celebrated five years of finding and writing positive stories with over 100 students involved across a host of schools.

During her time in Jill Dando News, Olivia with other Jill Dando News reporters aged 8 to 18 has interviewed Fiona Bruce, a NASA astronaut, famous film directors, and many more.

It is even developing its first centre in Malawi, Africa.

“It’s quite remarkable what has happened at Jill Dando News in five years.

Nigel Dando

This week Olivia joined Jill’s brother Nigel, fellow patron Emma Britton and dozens of students aged 9 to 18 for a celebration at WCSA which is also Jill’s former school.

Olivia, right, with other Jill Dando News reporters, Liz Davis, centre, Nigel Dando, far left and Emma Britton

Olivia, now 17, and at the thriving Sixth Form at The King Alfred School Academy, said: “It is amazing to see how Jill Dando News has developed. I remember the first meet of around five people and now to see all the reporters that we have now is absolutely fantastic.

“The confidence and skills that Jill Dando News has given me has helped me in so many ways.”

Olivia has also managed to present her own TV piece to BBC Points West along with Aimee Braithwaite of Priory Community School Academy, and to be interviewed on ITV nationally live along with Jack Clark, also formerly of WCSA and now TKASA.

Olivia added: “Everyone who knew Jill mentioned that she always had a beaming smile on her face, and all the students at Jill Dando News try to adopt this.

“We focus on good news to remember what she was like and what she did. She was the smiling face of Great Britain’.”

Nigel said: “It’s quite remarkable what has happened at Jill Dando News in five years. The amount of interviews students have achieved include prime ministers, international sporting legends, best selling authors and more.

“Their stories are real stories for real Media which have appeared in publications across the UK and beyond.”

The initiative was started at The Priory Learning Trust and stories are published in the Good News Post online newspaper www.goodnewspost.co.uk and the wider Media.

Schools involved include Worle Community School Academy, Priory Community School Academy, St Anne’s Church Academy and Castle Batch School Academy, in Weston-super-Mare.

It also includes The King Alfred School Academy and Sixth Form in Highbridge, and Pawlett Primary School Academy, West Huntspill Primary Academy and East Huntspill Primary Academy near Bridgwater.

Emma Britton poured praise on the reporters, saying: “Positive news is good for us all and that’s why the Jill Dando News reporters are doing such a brilliant job.”

In 1999, 37 year old, Jill Dando was BBC TV’s Golden Girl, the kind and smiling face of Britain, loved by millions. 

In that same year on April 26th her life was tragically cut short but her memory lives on through the fantastic initiative started at WCSA.

In 2017, students started Jill Dando News as a lasting and expanding tribute to her refreshingly positive style of journalism.

Since then, reporters have interviewed the Prime Minister three times, including in Downing Street in front of the world’s TV cameras. 

They have also interviewed LA Correspondent Ross King MBE, Creative Genius who were responsible for Spitting Image and Chicken Run, plus other great movies. 

See all the interviews here https://www.theplt.org.uk/jdnc.php