Carol Vorderman says ‘f***ing hard to be poor’ as she talks upbringing

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Carol Vorderman, 62, grew up in a working-class single-parent household in North Wales back in the 1960s. She was educated at Blessed Edward Jones Catholic High School, a state school in Rhyl, before landing a place at Cambridge University to study engineering.

Since then, Carol’s career has gone from strength to strength. She worked as a civil engineer before landing her iconic role on Countdown after her mother applied on her behalf.

She is now one of the most recognisable faces on British television and frequently appears on shows such as This Morning, Lorraine and Celebrity Gogglebox.

On top of this, Carol also works hard to help others from a similar background reach their full potential.

Speaking to, Carol said: “It is f***ing hard when you are poor and it is bl**dy hard when you are in a sh*t school, all of those different things are just hard.

“I think if it hasn’t happened to you, you have no understanding about how hard it is because it is everything.”

Carol says that education is her “driving force” because it is “the changemaker”.

She has written numerous education books and fronted her own free maths website, The Maths Factor. 

Now, Carol has now teamed up with Amazon as a judge on the Alexa Young Innovator Challenge.  

The competition is designed to upskill 13 to 18-year-olds in artificial intelligence (AI) and prepare them for future careers.

It also provides teachers access to free lesson plans and materials to engage and inspire students. 

The competition forms part of Amazon’s Future Engineer programme. It invites students to code their own Alexa Skill, exploring the possibilities of using AI to help solve societal issues ranging from climate change and healthcare to poverty and homelessness. 

Winners will be selected in two age categories, together with 20 runners-up, by judges including Carol.


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Explaining what she is looking for in the entries, Carol said: “This competition isn’t about the most brilliant mathematician or the most brilliant electronics engineer or anything. 

“It’s what you can think of that will be good for a community and it is bringing what kids already know like CGI…I will be interested to see what they come up with.” 

Elsewhere, Carol also says that she “would love” to go a step further in her crusade and go into education politics. 

She said: “I have a good heart and my belief is in the right place in the children and in the teachers and the differences in the system.

“My kids went to private school, and I could see the difference. I’ve experienced, from the finest university education to Rhyl and a school in special measures, free school meals and all the rest of it.

“I’ve lived it, albeit a long time ago. So, yeah, I would be very interested in going into that, for the children.” 

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