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Interview with Lee Grimes – Winner of John Moore special achievement award


The Young Enterprise Team Programme has helped Lee Grimes transform in confidence and secure two jobs. In recognition of his personal development he won the 2017 Sir John Moore’s Special Achievement Award at the Young Enterprise National final.


Before getting involved in Young Enterprise Lee, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, suffered from extreme shyness and was pessimistic about his job prospects. “All my life I thought that I had a disability and who in their right mind would hire me. I always used to put myself down. Now I think I can be independent and have my own life,” he said.


Lee reluctantly accepted the role of Managing Director following encouragement from his team mates from National Star College. “I didn’t really want to be Managing Director, because I knew I would have to talk to people. Before I did Young Enterprise I was really shy. I used to wear a hoodie, put my head on the table and not engage with anyone” Lee said.


Lee and his team started a Young Enterprise company called PIP: Personal Image Printing. The concept behind this was to print customer’s images onto their products, using transfer paper.


Through Young Enterprise Lee developed his ability and confidence to take initiative and solve problems. When their Personal Image Printing stall was not attracting much attention at the company fair Lee reacted by sending part of his team off to give out flyers, increasing interest in the stall.  He says that since completing the programme: “I don’t tend to ask for as much help as I used to. I look at an issue and try and resolve it myself”.


Though he was initially reluctant to accept the role of Managing Director Lee’s team encouraged him to take up the role. As Managing Director Lee returned this advice and encouragement to his peers. Lee recalls how he advised his team when their prototypes were bending due to the heat of their press. “I spoke to the team member who was struggling and helped him to get round the issue by turning the heat down on the press and instead using more pressure to apply the image”.


It was this role of responsibility that also encouraged Lee to step out of his comfort zone and speak to the judges. “At the regional final I thought to myself, I’m the managing director so I should show that I am capable to talk…after a while I stepped forward and was able to speak” Lee said.


Indeed, upon collecting his award Lee spoke confidently in front of almost 300 people at the Young Enterprise UK Company of the Year Awards at BFI, London, showing just how far he has come.


Since the company programme Lee has secured two paid jobs, one within the National Star College and the other working for the NHS. He describes how his Young Enterprise experience helped in the application process. “When I had my interview for the NHS I was really nervous. I thought back to the Young Enterprise experience and thought if I was able to do that and talk to complete strangers, then I am more than capable to talk to three interviewers. After talking to nearly 300 people on stage, I now feel I am able to do anything”.


With the next intake of Young Enterprise about to embark on the team challenge, Lee was happy to share some tips for success. He advised: “listen to your peers and listen to your instincts and gut feeling. If it wasn’t for my team mates, I would have refused to do it – my team mates helped me and in turn I helped my team mates”.