HIGH-TECH students at Stratford Girls Grammar School are feeling h-app-y after Virgin tycoon Richard Branson backed their award-winning technology.
The four strong Team Checkmate – made up of Katie Griffiths, Josie Baldwin, Emily Bowes and Alex Hill – won the national Apps for Good Awards back in 2014 with their ‘I’m Okay’ app.
Designed to offer support and information for young people exploring their sexuality and gender, the app scooped first prize in the ‘Information’ category sponsored by Thomson Reuters last June.
And having spent six months working with development agency Codeten to have their app prototype built professionally, it was finally launched on to the market last month.
But the latest endorsement from the billionaire businessman came somewhat unexpectedly for the girls.
It all started when an article featuring the I’m Okay app was posted on the virgin.com guest blog page.
Although Mr Branson himself did not write the article, shortly afterwards he sent a tweet about the post to his 5million plus followers encouraging them to take a look.
Simon Reid, head of computing and e-learning at the Shottery school, said he was delighted the girls’ work had been recognised by the high-flying mogul.
He told The Observer: “The app has been going from strength to strength but we were nevertheless amazed to see the tweet from Richard Branson’s personal Twitter account!
“Knowing Richard is a vocal advocate of equality and LGBT causes, the girls feel very proud someone of his standing and influence has taken note of their hard work.
“His interest in the team and their idea further highlights the importance of their app and with 165 retweets and 174 favourites, hopefully they have reached new audiences.
“We would naturally like to engage further with Richard if the opportunity arose but as it stands the girls are now looking at taking their app promotion to a number of summer events – all of which will be announced on their Twitter account @ImOkayApp.”
Team Checkmate’s victory followed the success of the previous year’s school entry, which also won.
The Pitch Pals app – designed to help young people tune their musical instruments – was developed and launched into the app market just over 12 months ago.