Youth Speaks competition brings out best in pupils

Award Winners: Pupils of St John Lloyd’s School

HARRY Potter’s life lessons, the benefits of social media, the dangers of technology, exam factory schools and the lessons we can learn from Paddington Bear.

These were among the topics debated in the annual Llanelli Rotary Club Youth Speaks competition held at Llanelli Town Hall.

“The quality of the arguments presented was outstanding and the children taking part reflected great credit on their schools, teachers and families,” said the chairman of the judging panel Lt Colonel David Mathias.

The competition doubled up as a Rotary South West Wales Area Final, with the winners going through to a District Final to be staged on March 16 in Abergavenny. The competition has a regional final, with the carrot of a place in a National Rotary Final in Nottingham in May.

In the junior intermediate section, the team from Coedcae School won the Llanelli Rotary Club competition. The Area final in the intermediate section was won by Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bryn Tawe from Penlan, Swansea.

The team from St John Lloyd School in Llanelli competed in the senior category Area Final by default by virtue of being the sole entrants from the town.

The team from Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe took the honours in senior Area competition to progress to the District Final.

The competition attracted entries from St John Lloyd and Coedcae schools in Llanelli and Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe, representing Swansea.

Lt Col Mathias said: “The standard in the competition was exceptionally high – as it is every year – and the competitors made the judging task a very difficult one.”

Llanelli Rotary Club president Alison Evans explained that the Youth Speaks event offered an opportunity for Llanelli pupils to gain experience of speaking on a public platform.

She said: “It allows young people to form ideas on significant subjects and learn high standards of expression, presentation and appearance. It also gives pupils the experience of accepting impartial assessments and constructive criticism.”

The competition was run to a national Rotary format, which included a question from the floor. The main speaker for each team faced the daunting task of fielding an unrehearsed question from Llanelli Rotary Associate member Ieuan Griffiths.

Llanelli Rotary President Mrs Evans added: “The youngsters coped admirably with the questions – not an easy task in front of a full house at the Town Hall. It was a very entertaining and thought-provoking evening with some challenging arguments being put forward by pupils who had obviously done their homework and research.”


Llanelli competition

Best Intermediate Team – Coedcae (who debated ‘The benefits of social media’). Team members – Chair Evie Pritchard, Speaker April Coslett, Vote of Thanks Proposer Rhys Morgan.

Best Chair – Evie Pritchard, Coedcae.

Best Speaker – April Coslett, Coedcae.

Best Proposer of Vote of Thanks – Leo Huntley, St John Lloyd.

The Judges: Joanna Poulson-Jenkins, David Mathias and Judith Thomas

Area competition

Best Intermediate Team – Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe (who debated ‘This House believes that Harry Potter teaches us some of life’s most important lessons). Team members – Chair Steffan Thomas, Speaker Sonny Tregembo, Vote of Thanks Proposer Jonah Eccott.

Best Chair – Steffan Thomas, Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe.

Best Speaker – April Coslett, Coedcae.

Best Proposer of Vote of Thanks – Jonah Eccott, Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe.

Senior Area competition

Best Senior Team – Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe (who debated ‘Is there more to Paddington Bear than his love of marmalade?’). Team members – Chair Caitlin White, Speaker Manon Keeble, Vote of Thanks Proposer Nansi Eccott.

Best Chair – Meg Lewis, St John Lloyd.

Best Speaker – Manon Keeble, Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe.

Best Proposer of Vote of Thanks – Nansi Eccott, Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe.

The judging panel was – Lt Colonel David Mathias, Deputy Lord Lieutenant and distinguished military historian (chair), Joanna Poulson-Jenkins, elocution teacher and speech and language coach, and Judith Thomas, West Wales bank manager with Lloyds Bank.

The MC for the evening was Rotarian Past President Robert Lloyd and the timekeeper was Rotarian Alan Bodman.

The event was organised by a team led by Rotarians Joanna Isaac and Dr Kevin Jones. Prizes were handed out by Llanelli Rotary Club President Alison Evans.

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