Cameron McKenzie, a former St John’s pupil who received the OJ Charity Award at the School’s 2018 prize giving, has chosen to donate the funds to the GASP Motor Project, an Albury-based charity supporting at risk or vulnerable students.

GASP Motor Project delivers daytime and evening sessions in basic motor mechanics and engineering to schools and other institutions, either by inviting them to the charity’s purpose-built workshop or by bringing the workshop to them with a mobile unit.  The charity provides a safe and supervised professional environment, with sessions run by qualified engineers providing programmes tailored to the needs of each group of young people (aged 14-19 ) with a focus on the disadvantaged or under-achieving. They work in small groups and experience the benefits of teamwork, improved skill sets and confidence building, which helps in tackling anti-social behaviour as well as supporting those involved to gain accreditations.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, GASP worked with 249 young people; of those who participated, 244 embarked on accredited courses and 204 achieved an AQA Unit Award. In all, 4,270 learning hours were delivered over 454 sessions to a cohort which was 22% female (up from 12%) and 78% male.

Evening sessions are also hosted at the charity’s custom-built workshop and are open to all, including those in mainstream education. These sessions have the same professional supervision (all volunteers) with the same focus on teamwork and skill sets. The projects undertaken by the evening crew are more competition focused, such as building and improving on two electric karts (both of which have since won trophies) or creating a soapbox for the various races around the county and beyond, while also leaving room for mechanical teaching using the complete rebuild of quad bikes and car engines as a practical learning point.

The charity is supported and sponsored by the likes of McLaren and has made a difference to the futures of many young people. Receiving the donation, GASP CEO, Henry Curwen commented:

“We are immensely grateful to Cameron for donating his OJ Charity Award to support our work. Over the last three years he has been a stalwart member of the Monday evening group and the leader of the ‘Bright Spark’ electric car racing ream. He also became a peer mentor, sharing the knowledge he learnt at GASP with others and proving himself a really positive role model”.

Cameron is himself an enthusiastic and budding engineer, and benefited from time spent at the project over a number of years. He has now moved on to Warwick University to study Mechanical Engineering.