There was absolutely no pressure whatsoever on our two Youth Speaks teams as they went to Lady Lumley’s School, yesterday, to defend our two trophies. None of the six speakers had ever participated in a public speaking competition before…

The Junior team was selected to go first (always the most difficult position to be in) and Mary Adams charmingly began the evening’s proceedings, by welcoming everyone and introducing her team and the highly suggestive title of their topic, Get Back in the Kitchen. Reane Canto spoke passionately about how feminism has evolved and, I think, converted more than one of the male members of the audience to the cause. Like her team-mates, Sakura Doody did not seem to need her notes at all, as she wrapped up proceedings very wittily and engagingly. I did not see the performance of the team from Scarborough College, but it must have been superb to have been judged even more highly than our girls’.

The Intermediate team of Year 10 students faced some judges who did not seem to want to play by the rules; they later admitted to wanting to really challenge the speakers with some ‘stinkers’ of interrogative questions. They did not phase our team. Caden Jones’s baritone filled the room, which then filled with laughter at his first joke of many. Eva Inasu’s performance was one of the most relaxed, authoritative and reasoned I have ever seen (including those of Senior, sixth form speakers) and she was smiling as she articulated her cool responses to the ‘stinkers’. Ana Flores proposed the vote of thanks with a delightful expression and clever rhetoric that warmed the audience to her. The judges declared themselves ‘inspired’ by the positivity of the speech, aptly named The Silver Lining … and the team came home with the trophy!

                Mr Taylor, Mrs Adams and I (with the proud parents of the speakers) thoroughly enjoyed watching and hearing these courageous young men and women, who have worked so hard – and so well together – encouraging, supporting and enjoying each other’s success. I would like to congratulate them, and thank them for being so delightful to work with.