After two years during which a live event was not possible, Province 15 was thrilled to host eight schools for their prestigious Public Speaking Contest which was held recently. Once again, we were made very welcome by Ratcliffe College who offered us the use of their facilities for the afternoon. In addition to the live “performance” the contest was broadcast live on YouTube.
There was a special sense of occasion as the Chair of our committee, Phil Yeomans, walked to the podium to welcome the contestants, their parents and supporters, and the enthusiastic Catenians from across Province, who had gathered in the wood-panelled Refectory. He then invited Bishop Ralph Heskett (Hallam Diocese) to open the proceedings with a prayer.
Once again, the contestants excelled themselves, speaking on a diverse range of topics, ranging from how hard it is to be an adult to a thoughtful consideration of how easily freedom is won or lost (particularly relevant as the situation in Ukraine was building up at the time), both challenging and entertaining us with their arguments and sharp wit. An hour or so later, our MC, Peter Crowe, drew the first half to a close and the time had flown. As we went through for refreshments, there was a palpable buzz with lively conversations about the speeches and who was the preferred winner.
As we resumed for the second half, in his remarks about the Contest, Bishop Patrick McKinney (Nottingham Diocese) commented on the good work undertaken by the Bursary Fund in supporting Young people to achieve personal goals and to help others and went on to thank the Association for its support of FLAME, the national event for young people. He commented on the contestants’ “eloquence, passion, concern for justice, inspiration” and how these ideas had played out through the speeches which “appealed to our hearts as well as our minds”. He recognised their “fire in the belly to make the world a better place” which gives older members of the audience hope for the future.
The chair of the adjudication panel, His Honour Judge Sean Hale, was very ably assisted by Richard Brucciani OBE and Mike Heath. Their task in coming to a decision was not easy since the standard was very high again this year. However, their winner was Amelia Monteiro from St Mary’s Catholic High School, Chesterfield who had spoken about how “Eccentrics will succeed at life”, beginning and ending her speech with a quotation in Klingon (the fictional language of the arch-nemesis of Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, the Klingons).
Amelia was presented with her prize and certificate by Brother Dave Perry of Derby Circle, Provincial President this year. The school trophy was then presented to her teacher Ms Calladine who had only finished polishing it before returning it after the 2021 contest.
The final video of the contest is here: