Viljo Wilding - Jack Petchey Award winner

Dated: 31 May 2018

This week we are celebrating another of our recent Jack Petchey award winners, Viljo Wilding from Hendon, who came to Woodhouse College from Mill Hill County High School and is currently studying A levels in history, philosophy and computer science.
Principal John Rubinstein said “Viljo is an amazing young person with huge amounts of energy, able to spread himself in all directions whilst still maintaining good attendance and academic progress.”
Viljo was nominated for a host of deserving reasons, many of which revolve around his active engagement and promotion of political involvement at the college…
“I can’t exactly pinpoint where my first interest in politics started. My parents always voted Labour, but it’s never been a major thing where we’ve always talked about politics. I think it was my grandad who first encouraged me to join Labour. He came to the UK from Pakistan in the early 1960s, worked in the post office for 25 years, and has always been a member. Then, on a whim really, I decided to stay up late and watch the 2017 general election results and found the Labour gains quite inspiring. So, at 19 minutes past midnight on the 9th of June 2017 (I know because I still have the text) I joined the Labour Party.
Not long after that I started at Woodhouse and around then I went to a talk by London Labour hosted at UCL which had some interesting talks by Labour students nationally but included one of our ex-Woodhouse students, Eda Cazimoglu, who ran for youth representative.
I thought that was an interesting thing and wondered if we could set up that sort of forum here at college and got in touch with Eda who helped me to run a stall at our freshers’ fair and people seemed to be really interested - so we set up a Woodhouse Labour society and it’s been going for about a year now. We meet every few weeks with up to 20 people attending and 50 on our mailing list. We discus some national issues and we had Barry Rawlings the leader of the Labour group on Barnet council in to talk with us about local issues.
We had the opportunity to send some delegates to the National Labour Students conference and I ran to be the national further education rep. because Labour Students didn’t have a specific place for sixth forms or sixth forms college, just FE.  And I was elected, and am now on the national committee of Labour Students.”
Labour Students is separate to Young Labour which exists within the Labour Party constitution. Labour Students is an affiliate.
“Labour Students run a lot of our campaigns and we did a ‘Make Homes Safe’ campaign and delivered over 100,000 signatures to H M Treasury after the Grenfell fire,calling for the government to make homes safer.
On the national committee I’ll be attending a lot of meetings and get to do a lot of stuff with different FE clubs around the country. As a result of being officially attached to the Labour party I was able to steer John McDonnell (shadow Labour chancellor) towards Woodhouse and he came in to give a talk and take questions from our students, which was a great event. We hope to get other shadow cabinet members in to talk next year too.
I have also helped to re-establish The National Union of Students at Woodhouse and following recent elections have become president of Woodhouse NUS for the next year. I think being properly affiliated with the NUS will give us a lot more say as students and gives the college an asset as well. We can work with the senior management to develop opportunities for students and other sources of funding for us to do stuff.”
In addition to his political pursuits, Viljo has helped at many college events such as Open Day and been an ambassador for the college at external events at our partner school the Archer Academy.
Viljo was also part of a very well received ‘Musical Showcase’ performed by students last month.
“The musical showcase was really great fun. Obviously, I do a lot of stressful things in other areas of my life, so to do something like this was a brilliant distraction. The college musical society is very well run, and very fair - everybody got to do solos. I also learnt how to use a lighting controller and do all the audio properly, which was fun even though it was all a bit last minute! Performing has been really good for my confidence.
It’s very independent here at Woodhouse, but teachers genuinely care about how students do. Not just because of grades and league tables, but because they actually want people to succeed and that’s really good for you as a student it, makes you feel really valued and it makes you feel like your education actually matters.
I took part in the Jack Petchey speak out challenge in year 10 and spoke about quantum physics! I think I won at my school because I confused people, but it was great experience and that was the first time I’d properly seen public speaking in action and it taught me how to speak in public. I’m kind of surprised and in awe of receiving the Jack Petchey Award. I feel like there are a lot of really deserving people in the college for an award. We’ve got a whole community of very talented people, so it’s really an honour to have been picked.”

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