SAEED Atcha spent his primary school years causing mayhem, swearing at staff and getting himself excluded.

Amazingly, still at a very young age, he turned his life around. Today, he is not only the inspirational CEO of Xplode magazine and all its services but is also a nationally-acclaimed advisor sought out by Government bodies.

It’s hard to believe that Saeed – quiet and personable – is only 21 because he’s had a lengthy public profile. But only a decade ago, he was a self-confessed “nightmare”, to the despair of his single mum Halima.

“I had an incredibly unstable background and was in and out of care,” he explained. Staff at Pikes Lane Primary School had their work cut out with him but things started to change after he was 11 and he found his mother having a seizure and seriously ill.

Although this proved a wake-up call for young Saeed, he was also still rootless, “sofa-surfing” without a regular place to stay. His auntie, however, had other ideas and told Saeed he was coming to live with her family.

This introduction to the extended family of four adults and three other children was not an easy transition for Saeed, but he sees the discipline and structure there as a life-saver.

The other important change that altered him was going to Ladybridge High School where staff realised that giving him responsibilities seemed to make him respond.

“I had a very fiery relationship with my form teacher, Miss Jones, but she always believed in me,” recalled Saeed.

Gradually, the former tearaway calmed down. He became a prefect but the route his life eventually took was signposted one day when he spotted some newspaper headlines about young people.

“It was just after the Manchester riots and I think it was the Daily Mail or the Daily Express had headlines describing young people as ‘feral animals’, ‘thugs’ and ‘yobs’,” stated Saeed.

“I decided then that I wanted to change that perception. I wanted to start a magazine that showed young people in a better, more positive light.”

So, he got together with seven friends and – in the kind of move that would come to personify Saeed’s approach to tackling projects – he went to the top for funding. He contacted giant network providers O2, asking them for funds to kickstart a magazine.

“And they said ‘yes’!” said Saeed, laughing. “We went to see them and they said you can have £300. We hadn’t really thought anything through at that point but with the money we rented a meeting room and made our plans for an edition written by young people.”

When they went back to O2 and told them what they’d done, Saeed explained how that wasn’t really enough to start a magazine “but I showed them the list of objectives and the plans we had.”

The canny individuals at O2 responded positively, telling Saeed that was exactly what they had wanted him to do. Then they offered him £2,500.

In 2011, at just 15, Saeed found himself the editor of Xplode with a staff of young writers who together created the printed magazine from planning and design to editorial and pictorial. They published their first edition with the help and expertise of Welsh printing firm Trendyprint, still their printers today.

They planned to publish quarterly, covering all the kinds of subjects young people were interested in, and providing volunteering and journalistic experience at the same time.

Saeed continued his own education, leaving school with a useful amount of GCSEs and taking his A levels at Bury College before going to Manchester Metropolitan University and a degree in PR and Marketing.

All the time, Xplode was growing. By then, they had moved to an office in The Hub – Bolton CVS’s headquarters in the town centre – and also realised the potential Xplode offered for encouraging young people to develop and to move into employment.

Today, as well as Xplode magazine in print and online with its positive messages about the young there is also an arm training 10,000 young people aged 12 to 22 across Greater Manchester in employability skills.

Xplode received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and Saeed himself has been recognised nationally.

He is an advisor to the Youth Social Action Review, a trustee for Prince Charles’ charity Step Up To Serve and won the Young Person of the Year in the Bolton and Bury Business Awards in 2015. He is also a finalist for the same title this year.

He loves his job as Xplode’s CEO, is always supportive and positive and plainly leads by example. His mantra of “you never know if you don’t ask” promises well for his future – a far cry from that confused young lad with a bad attitude.