Since January, Farnborough Hill’s Senior Public Speaking Team has been competing in the ESU Churchill National Public Speaking Competition for Schools 2014-15. Having successfully progressed through three regional rounds, this Saturday saw the girls competing in the National Final of the competition. 400 teams from across England and Wales had been whittled down to eight schools, who were invited to Churchill College, Cambridge to compete in one final round.
The event was attended by a range of esteemed guests drawn from the ESU and Cambridge University, notably The Rt Hon. the Lord Boateng and Mr Randolph Churchill.
Undaunted by this audience, Sophia Taylor took to the stage with her speech entitled, ‘Well-behaved women seldom make history.’ She took on the challenge of this engaging issue with aplomb, assuredly discussing the role of women throughout history in a style that combined fact, opinion and good humour extremely effectively to deliver a clear message about the role of feminism in the modern era. As chair and questioner, Isabella Embleton and Isobel Walter showed themselves to possess great grace under pressure, by listening carefully to challenging ideas, and assisting the audience in understanding these.
A strong judging panel from the ESU consisted of: Jon Dye, former Deputy Chairman of the ESU and currently finance director of Citizens Advice Scotland; Dr Theresa Biberauer, principal research associate in Cambridge University’s Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, and Akash Mukerji, a trainee solicitor with a City law firm, and an ESU mentor for over 4 years. The prizes were awarded by Randolph Churchill, on behalf of the sponsor the Churchill Centre, Lord Boateng, Chairman of the ESU, and Jane Easton, Director General of the ESU.
Mrs Sarah Campbell, Head of English at Farnborough Hill and the girls’ coach, said “The standard of competition was exceptionally high, with all schools speaking at an impressive level, so it came as a wonderful surprise when the announcement was made that Sophia had been named Best Speaker and the team as a whole were the winners, making them UK champions. Throughout the competition the girls have worked extremely hard, even competing in one round only hours before appearing on stage in lead roles in their school production. We are extremely proud of the work and tenacity that lead to this achievement, and hope that they will go on to even greater things in the future.”