Huge congratulations are in order for Year 11 student Ashley. Having already won the regional heat of the Chrystall Prize, the GDST’s own Public Speaking competition, Ashley went on to speak on a new subject at the final of the event at Notting Hill and Ealing High School on Friday 9th March. Full of nerves, Ashley took her place among four other finalists in front of three ‘heavy weight’ journalist judges in the form of James Coomarasamy (with 15 years’ experience as a BBC foreign correspondent and presenter of ‘The World Tonight’ on R4), Jane Garvey (presenter of R4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’) and Stephen Sackur (currently presenter of HARDtalk on the World Service and BBC World News). Even more formidable: a large group of Year 10 students, specially recruited as an audience!
Ashley spoke eloquently and passionately on the topic of ‘Has Feminism Gone Too Far?’, arguing that – on the contrary – in many places of the world, it has simply not gone far enough. She expertly wove into her speech humour, quotes from Maya Angelou and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and some shocking facts. Whilst Ashley didn’t win her speech made perhaps the biggest impact with her Year 10 audience, many of whom were complimenting her all the way to the bus stop. Jane Garvey was clearly genuinely moved by what she had heard, commenting on how she had been ‘worried’ about the stance Ashley would take but that she had actually ‘provoked a lot of thought’. The most telling praise was that Ashley had ‘unnerved’ Garvey (a prominent campaigner for women’s equal pay) with the power of what she had said.
Ashley is clearly one to watch: a speaker of real dynamism, engaging and moving in equal measure.
Many thanks to Mr Hayward for coaching Ashley.