Azhar Chaudry, Head Boy, has spent a week at No. 10 Downing Street in the Prime Minister’s Office. 17-year old Azhar, who has long held political ambitions, emailed No. 10 last December enquiring into the possibility of a work experience opportunity. He says, “I didn’t really expect a response and after six months of waiting, I’d given up hope. But then I received a request to send in my CV and three weeks later, confirmation that my wish had been granted! It was followed quickly by a letter from MI5 telling me that I wasn’t to tell anybody the news, apart from my parents and Quest’s Principal, Mr Crofts.”
Azhar spent a week working at No. 10’s Direct Communications Unit (DCU), which is responsible for handling all of the Prime Minister’s correspondence. He was involved in directing correspondence to the correct government departments, replying directly to mail and had the opportunity to experience first-hand the PM’s social media operation, including how the team are working with the Police to reduce crime levels on the street.
Azhar got a surprise on his fourth day. He says, “I was coming back from the canteen after lunch. At the security door, my mentor scanned me through but then the doors stopped working. We could hear a lot of noise on the other side, and then suddenly I saw David Cameron, who was just returning from a phone call with Barack Obama about the crisis in Iraq. He saw me, stopped and asked me who I was, what I was doing there and where I was from. We walked together on his way to a press conference but before he went in, I asked if I could take a photo with my phone, and he obliged. I took the picture and then off he went!”
“On my last day, the Head of the Direct Communications Unit told me how lucky I’d been. Only one other guy had been on work experience, and he was there because his mum knew Samantha Cameron! I feel lucky but at the same time the experience has reassured me that if you work hard and give things a go, then it’s possible to achieve your ambitions.”
Azhar hopes to pursue a career in politics as an MP. Despite being from a socialist background, he is a Conservative at heart and looks forward to a time when there is less dependency on government, efficient privatisation of industry, enhanced British values in schools and genuine integration in communities. “My dad and I argue all the time about politics, but he’s happy that I’ve chosen my own path.”
Mr Andy Crofts, Principal said: “Azhar is a diligent and committed student, both in his service to the Academy as Head Boy and in the passion he has for fulfilling his own goals. I was not surprised therefore that with effort and ingenuity he secured this prestigious placement. He is a fitting role model to others in our community, demonstrating that if you believe you can do something and work hard at it, you can get there. His story is certainly inspiring for other students”