HILARY Devey is better known for interrogating wannabe entrepreneurs pitching for investment on the TV series Dragons’ Den.
But this week the self-made millionaire was at a school in Drayton which returned the best set of GCSE results the city has ever seen.
Springfield School had 75 per cent of all students achieving five good GCSEs including English and maths this year.
The 53-year-old boss of haulage company Pall-Ex was the guest speaker at the school’s awards ceremony.
Hilary talked about how she built up a successful career from scratch and presented awards to dozens of current and former students.
She said: ‘This was my first visit to this school.
‘It’s absolutely amazing what the pupils have achieved.
‘And it’s a massive accolade to the school to know parents aren’t sending their kids to private school, but to this school instead, so they can save money for university.
‘I enjoyed meeting the young people.’
Hilary’s visit was a major coup for headteacher Lynn Evans who wanted to host a strong role model to reward her hard-working students.
And as a bonus, the businesswoman said she would speak to the Dragons’ Den team to see if she can make Springfield her link school, which means she would work very closely with students and set them entrepreneurial projects.
Ms Evans said: ‘I was thrilled we were able to find a speaker who made a real impact on the children.
‘The visit was a closely-guarded secret but I admit I was tempted at times to leak it as I was so excited.
‘Hilary’s speech was inspirational.’
Hilary struck a chord with twins Gemma and Megan Ford, both 14, who received music and maths prizes respectively.
Gemma, who opened the ceremony with a rendition of On My Own from Les Miserables, said: ‘Hilary was inspirational.
‘I’ve watched her on Dragons’ Den with my family and it was brilliant to welcome her to our school.’
Megan added: ‘‘None of us had any idea she was visiting the school until we opened the programme – it was a great surprise.’