THOMAS WHITEHEAD has already matched impressive memory skills with the nerves of a gunslinger to defeat all between him and the title of regional champion.
But the ten-year-old from Garforth will be needing to dig that little bit deeper when he makes the trip to the capital at the weekend to challenge for the national Top Trumps crown.
If he wants to lift the title, Thomas will have to test his mettle against 11 other eight to 11-year-olds from England, Scotland and Wales.
And, not only will he have to be at his best, he’ll have the additional pressure of performing live in front of all-comers on Floor 3 of the famous Hamley’s toy store on London’s Regent Street.
At stake is a gleaming trophy and a special VIP family ride and photoshoot on the London Eye - but also the honour of official recognition as the best young Top Trump player in the country.
Thomas is a pupil at Strawberry Feilds School in Garforth, where the Top Trump contest has already become something of an annual event. He’s also the only West Yorkshire contestant to reach the grand final where he will have to use Top Trumps Turbo cards, covering topics as varied as Sport, Toys and Wonders of the World.
But, yesterday, he was playing it cool, demonstrating his skills for the media ahead of the big day on Saturday.
“I’m very proud to represent my school in this competition,” he said . “I am looking forward to the grand final and really just want to enjoy the day.”
Strawberry Fields teacher Steve Wales added: “This year, we had over 100 entrants and it is fantastic, for the third year in a row, our school champion has reached the London grand final. I guess all that work with Top Trump cards really pays off!
“I think this is a great initiative for schools to take part in. Thomas has enjoyed both the in-school and on-line rounds so far – and everyone is rooting for him for the grand final this weekend in London.”
Competition organiser Fiona Hortopp added: “Very many congratulations to Thomas. He is a winner already – not only the West Yorkshire Top Trumps champion but to make it to the final dozen from around 50,000 schoolchildren is some feat.“
Research on the tournament by the National Children’s Bureau has suggested it helps children improve both numeracy and literacy skills.
Ms Hortopp added: “These findings have resulted in heads and teachers seeing the advantage of bringing in Top Trumps as a teaching tool inside the classroom. Children not only improve their basic literacy and numeracy skills but also deepen their knowledge on the subject matter covered in the pack. The better you know the pack, the better chance you have of winning the game.”