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The English Speaking Union competition Regional Final

19 March 2018

Gutsy Year 10 students Katie, Marigold and Imogen bookended a stressful exam week with a little light relief in the form of the Regional Final of the ESU’s Churchill Public Speaking competition. Having won the local heat last month, Katie, Marigold and Imogen were not going to let little things like exams or, indeed, the blizzards of Storm Emma and the Beast from the East stand in their way.

We were all disappointed that the competition did not go ahead on the appointed day of Sunday 4thMarch because of the weather. This turned to trepidation when we learnt of the new date – just a week later – as this would be directly after their exams and at such short notice that no-one in the English department was available to accompany them to Taunton. In stepped Rupert Stubbs, Katie’s father, with the very kind offer to do the honours.

The team were rewarded for their efforts by being name Runners Up out of the four teams left competing. Every other team there, including Colston (the winners), was made up of Year 11 students, so there was much comment on how very impressive they were for being a year younger than the others. The real cherry on the cake was that Katie was named Best Speaker in the South West!

Katie’s powerful speech is about organ and the arguments over whether it should be an opt-in or opt-out service. Serious as the topic is, it incorporates humour and a really engaging approach. It was a real team effort too, with Imogen and Marigold working on it too, making sure Katie was feeling prepared to field a range of questions.

Katie has kindly volunteered to deliver this speech in an assembly next term. We hope that it will inspire all our students to get involved in debating and public speaking. This has been an incredibly successful year so well done and thank-you to all involved.

Mr Stubbs sent the following report about the event:

"Despite being nervous beforehand, the girls all came across confidently and maturely – so much so that none of the people I talked to realised they were only in Y10.

Marigold (as Chair) was both clear and articulate, while Imogen (as Questioner) was able to bring her own experience into her questions, which made them feel much more spontaneous and insightful. Katie (Speaker) also projected well, getting the audience involved in the benefits of organ donation, including thoughts about being more open about discussing death...

...All in all a most impressive display by RHS, especially given the small amount of experience they have had in public speaking - many of the other teams had done several other performances this year alone. They also conducted themselves impeccably, engaging with the other teams beforehand and getting some good tips for the future from the judges."

Photo by Rupert Stubbs

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