Tuesday, 09 August 2022

‘Selfie’ experts win public speaking contest

A TEAM of boys from Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning has won a national competition called Youth Speaks.

A TEAM of boys from Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning has won a national competition called Youth Speaks.

Ted Aplin, 12, from Henley, William Peters, 13, from Emmer Green, and Miles Edwards, 12, from Lower Shiplake, overcame two rival schools in the final of the public speaking contest held in Preston on Saturday.

The trio, who were competing in the intermediate category, had already won the regional final in Marlow and the local heat at Henley’s Kenton theatre.

Ted was also named best chairman and William best speaker in the competition, which is organised by Rotary.

The boys were accompanied to the final by Blue Coat’s head of public speaking Lisa Bennett. Each team had three members — a main speaker, a chairman and one who gave the vote of thanks. They had 10 minutes in which to give a presentation on a subject of their choice and the Blue Coat boys spoke on the subject of “selfies”.

Ted said: “The final was by far the most nerve-wracking of the competition. I think it helped that we are all very similar — we have been described as three peas in a pod.

“I feel really proud to have been able to win this competition both for Reading Blue Coat School and for the Henley Rotary Club. We really appreciated the support that the club and Mrs Bennett gave us throughout the competition.”

William said: “I am so proud that we won the competition — the first time for Reading Blue Coat School. This experience has given me so much confidence and a real desire to continue with my public speaking. I am really grateful for the opportunity that Rotary gave us.”

Miles said: “The most exciting part was the suspense as they announced the winners. We had waited ages for third place and second place to be given out then, when the moment finally came, I was astonished to find that we had won and our dreams had been fulfilled!”

Mrs Bennett said she was “utterly delighted”, adding: “The boys have worked as a team from the outset and have grabbed the opportunity that each round has presented, determined to get to the next stage.”

Phil Fletcher, secretary of Henley Rotary Club, said: “The boys are absolutely fantastic — you can’t get over how good they are.

“The president, John Grout, and all our members are absolutely thrilled. We have been running our heat of the Youth Speaks competition for many years and this is the first time we’ve had a winner of the national competition.”

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