St Mary's Catholic College, Wallasey

St Mary's Catholic College
A Voluntary Aided Academy

Journalist Shay leaves X Factor for charity work

Journalist Shay leaves X Factor for charity work



Former St Mary's student Shay Collins is currently working as a production runner on ITV's The X Factor...and with her degree in broadcast media, she seems set for a sparkling career in TV and radio journalism.

But before that really begins in earnest, she has volunteered this summer to help educate disabled youngsters in Thailand.

Shay left St Mary's Sixth Form in 2012 and is about to graduate from Leeds University.

However she is already making a name for herself in regional TV, working on freelance projects for BBC Breakfast, BBC North West Tonight, BBC North West Inside Out as well as Simon Cowell's top-rating show The X Factor.

As part of the university's student charity programme, she will be working with severely disadvantaged children in the community of Pak Kret, Thailand - children who are effectively orphaned and abandoned because of their disabilities.

Shay, who grew up in Wallasey, explained: 'Disabled people are stigmatised and ostracised in Thai society because of the influence of Buddhist beliefs that disability is karma for wrongdoing in a previous life.'

She will join the work of Christian Care Foundation, a family-run charity established in 1986 which provides support for abandoned children with disabilities, regardless of gender, nationality, creed or religion.


The 22-year old will fly to Thailand on July 19 with other volunteers and will stay for two months, working with the children and helping on other projects in the school.

She said: 'As part of our preparation we've been integrating with the Thai community in Leeds to learn about the culture and religion before we go.

'We've collaborated with the local Buddhist monks and even learned about - and tried! - Buddhist meditation. I'm really looking forward to experiencing the Thai culture for real.'

She added: 'Unfortunately, though, the only way the school we're going to in Thailand can exist is through donations.

'Each volunteer has to raise about £600, which we will spend on essentials such as food and toiletries for the children, in addition to crafts and toys.' 

Above: Learning about Thai culture in Leeds.





Below: While in Sixth Form Shay took part in a BBC Radio Merseyside broadcast when St Mary's Chill & Fill dining room was launched in 2011. She is pictured here with Assistant Head Mr Mike Chew and fellow student James Ali being interviewed by BBC reporter Jimmy McCracken.

Shay's talents as a journalist were always obvious to those who knew her at school.

As a 16-year-old student in Year 12, Shay founded our Sixth Form newsletter The Messenger, designing and editing it from scratch, while leading a large student editorial team. 

And during her time at Leeds University she was Head of Film for Leeds Student TV - which this year won 10 awards at the National Student Awards - and a videographer for Leeds RAG (Raise And Give).

Pictured below: Shay was an ambassador for St Mary's during the 2012 visit of Bishop Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury.

Last year Shay travelled to Peru with the University of Leeds Charity Society to teach English and help build two classrooms for schools in the community of Trujillo (pictured with fellow students, and with village children below).


You can donate to Shay's charity work on


Report by Elaine Webster

13 Jun 2016