“…You’ll do something special one day.”

The inspiration behind The Ocean Azores Foundation started in 1998. A group of young boys each waited for interview at a prejudicious company who gave out scholarships to the employees’ children. The interview panel would meet each one and then select a child who would receive funds to go to a private school of their choice. The selection criteria was based on academic achievement, out of school activities and interests.

The final child was probably the least likely to pass the test based in academic qualifications alone. Dyslexic, fidgeting and nervous in his shorts, blazer and badly fitting tie, he did not really fit in with the other high performing academic children.

At the interview I still remember not really knowing why exactly I was being interviewed. I just knew that this was my Mother’s boss and it was very important I sat up straight and answered all the questions. The panel asked a number of things, my grades (good for a dyslexic child who worked on extra classes to get them) as well as my outside interests.

At this point, the gentlemen looked up and asked me, “so it says here you like to collect banknotes?” “Yes” I replied. He asked, “which are your favourites?” “British ones, with a 5 on them,” I said with a cheeky grin. At this moment my mother’s face dropped in embarrassment but the gentlemen smiled and said to my mother “thank you Gill, I think we have enough information.” And so I was ushered out of the room and home we were bound.

Around a month later mother received a letter. This was from the Debeers Foundation informing her that I would be awarded the scholarship. Attached to the letter was a 5 pound note with a message. “You’ll do something special one day. Good luck.” Nicky.

It is with profound thanks for that opportunity that I am here today, and am able to work with Caroline to build what is a small step in helping to protect and understand more about the ocean that surrounds the Azores.