Nine teams from five schools took part in Youth Speaks, the annual public speaking competition for schools, organised by Shepperton Aurora Rotary on 18th November at the Council Chambers in Staines. Each team consisted of 3 members, a Chairperson, a Speaker, and giver of Vote of Thanks, and spoke on a subject of their own choice. Choices of subject covered a wide range, from ‘Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover’ to ‘The Dark Side of Exams’.

The standard of speaking was exceptionally high, and the adjudicators, Mandy Smith, Assistant Head at St Georges College in Weybridge, Robert May, a manager and Systems Architect at Cisco’s and Tim Rose, vicar of St Mary Magdalene Church in Littleton had a very hard job choosing the winners. In announcing the winners, Mandy Smith told the contestants that no-one should consider themselves a failure as they were all winners, and had all acquired vital skills which would benefit them in whatever career they chose.

The Intermediate Cup was won by Anoushka Vail, Lily Blakemore and Neve Crossley of The Matthew Arnold School, who entertained the packed audience with ‘A Photograph tells a Thousand Words’. In the Senior Competition, the Sunbury Manor School team of Megan Bill, Jack Greaves and Holly Hunter, speaking passionately about the case for 16 & 17 year olds being allowed to vote in elections, swept the board, winning not only the Cup for Best Team, but they also won best Chairperson, best Speaker and best Giver of Vote of Thanks.

All prizes and trophies were presented by the Mayor, Councillor Alfred Friday, who declared that he had heard better speeches this evening than he often hears at Council meetings.

In summing up, Mike Gicquel, President of Shepperton Aurora Rotary, said ‘I feel very proud of the achievements of these young people, who have enthralled us with the quality of their speaking, and I thank Spelthorne Borough Council for allowing us to use this magnificent chamber which provides a fitting arena for the competition’.

This was just the first round of a National competition organised by Rotary. The two winning teams now go forward to the District semi-finals in February.