Pride was the prevailing emotion at Farnborough Hill on Monday as three students were announced winners of the National Final in the 2017 Rotary Youth Speaks competition. This high-profile contest endeavours to encourage effective communication skills in young people and sees teams from hundreds of schools enter each year at intermediate and senior levels. Farnborough Hill represents Farnham and Farnham Weyside District Rotary Clubs and has previously seen great success, including a senior team achieving the national winner’s title in 2012. Public speaking is a thriving extra-curricular activity at the school, with coach and English Speaking Union Guildford and District branch chairperson, Lori Winch-Johnson, stating: ‘Students at Farnborough Hill seem to relish constructing an argument and researching a topic for presentation, and have excellent communication skills. It is a pleasure to coach them.’
On Monday morning several senior members of Rotary International visited Farnborough Hill to award the trophy: two District Generals of Rotary, Frank West and John Sayer, the Farnham Rotary Club President, George Alford and Vice President of Farnham Weyside, Bill Loach. These gentlemen had the opportunity to observe the winning students exhibiting their public speaking prowess in a school-wide masterclass. The team, is composed of Chairman, Year 11 student Roisin Royle, and Lower Sixth students Speaker, Catriona Flesher, and Vote of Thanks, Imogen Usherwood. They gave a polished and poised performance on the topic of the actual sociability of social media entitled ‘There’s nothing social about social media’. Roisin led off with a charming and commanding introduction, Catriona followed with an insightful and erudite discussion of her topic, and Imogen summarised the presentation and responded to questions with grace and clarity.
The entire display was professional, compelling and above all persuasive; the insightful discussion of a topic so relevant to their own experience held the entire student body’s rapt attention. Farnborough Hill is extremely proud of these young women’s achievements. As Head Mrs Alex Neil says, ‘The whole school community is proud of the girls. They are wonderful role models to the younger students and we are sure that they will go on to achieve great things in life.’