Since January, Farnborough Hill’s senior public speaking team has been competing in the ESU Churchill National Public Speaking Competition for Schools. Having progressed through three regional rounds, the girls competed against seven other teams in the national final of the competition at Churchill College, Cambridge. The event was attended by guests drawn from the ESU and Cambridge University, including Lord Boateng and Randolph Churchill.
Farnborough Hill’s winning team consisted of Sophia Taylor from Church Crookham, who gave a speech entitled ‘Well-behaved women seldom make history’, and, as chair and questioner respectively, Isabella Embleton from Knaphill and Isobel Walter from Camberley.
The 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 more than four 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.
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.”