"I have an idea....what do you think ? "
As a presenter I get asked to host and attend a lot of events and I love doing this. Amongst the ones I enjoyed the most last year were the award ceremonies of several schools celebrating exam results for Years 11,12 and 13. That is how I first came across the George Salter Academy, which went on to become the venue of our School Election Debate.
We'd made an appeal on ITV News Central for schools and colleges to let us know what their 17-and-18 year old students were doing in the run-up to the General Election. I thought we could do more with this topic.
I also have a vested interest in that my son is 17, so I'm interested in his political views and that of his peers. Hence I came up with the idea of holding a school debate at a local school or college and inviting students who had the opportunity to vote this year for the first time, to talk about the issues that affect them and why they shouldn't listen to Russell Brand !
I remember presenting the concept and the structure to both Head of News Liz Hannam and Producer Tejinder Kaur who loved it, and ran with what was an ambitious but bold programme that we have thoroughly enjoyed producing.
It has been hard work and there is a lot of preparation that goes on behind the scenes that you will never see as a viewer, but it is a team effort and we are lucky to have some great people at Central who make ideas reality.
The best thing for me has been the engagement we now have with schools, colleges and academies in our region. We often overlook the value this brings to our output but also the goodwill it generates amongst the younger generation who are not only our next generation of viewers (and potentially journalists!) but also the future of our country.
Our Election School Debate 2015 is on tonight at 6pm, I think it is a great watch and I hope you enjoy it too !
Click here for lots more on our special ITV Election School Debate.