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On Tuesday 8th October, teams from each House took part in the junior House Public Speaking competition 2013. The stage was set for the brave IVth and LVth formers to speak to their peers, a selection of illustrious judges, and the meritorious master of ceremonies and timekeeper Mr Ed Clarke. Their task? To speak on a variety of topics, and use every ounce of persuasion they could muster in their attempt to sway the opinions of the audience and win the endearment of the judges.  As usual it was an enjoyable occasion, with the speeches from the chairpersons, in particular, providing a comedic foil to the more serious discussions and backdrop of the competition this year.

West opened the proceedings , speaking on whether “Euthanasia should be legalised in this country”.  Zoe Dixon, ably supported by Libby Brake and Sarra Alayyan, spoke passionately on this emotive topic, forcing the audience to consider whether it is right for us to deny the terminally ill some dignity in death.

North addressed the topic “Why drugs should be legalised”. Daniel Murphy spoke with panache, questioning the justification for its initial illegalisation and the increased crime activity accruing from its illegalisation. Credit must go to Theo MacDonald who picked up individual praise from the judges for his chairman speech.

South spoke on “Five minutes of fame, a lifetime of shame- our current obsession with celebrity and the effect on this generation’s self-esteem”, a very topical speech which forced many in the audience to consider their own celebrity obsessions. Mr Clarke in particular had to consider the ramifications of his obsession with Justin Bieber. South were in the end deserved winners, with particular praise owed to Amelie Bickenson, who was a worthy winner for best main speaker, and Ellie Williamson who won best vote of thanks.

After a five minute interlude, Cubitt took to the stage through Lewis Bedford with his comedic rhetoric on “Why cricket is the best sport”. Sadly it must be concluded he had forgotten about every other sport with the exception of, perhaps, water polo. Special congratulations must go to Toby Chesser who was a worthy winner for his acerbic wit in his role as chairman.
East spoke next, with Tom Hollidge expounding upon “Zero tolerance policing”, ably abetted by Harry Horstead and Freddie Coates. Tom received honourable mention from the judges for his passionate oratory, while highlighting the problems inherent in the current system. As Harry put it, we were left “amazed and enthralled”.

And, finally, owing to the delayed arrival of a member of the Loveday team, we came to the highlight of the evening, as Mr Clarke was given the opportunity to demonstrate his talent for stand-up comedy, proving to all present why, with his rambunctious nature, a career in satire is still a viable alternative to teaching for him.

After that short hiatus Loveday ended proceedings, with Freddy Austin discussing the very topical subject of “the double agent”. With the recent activity of whistle-blower Edward Snowden, it was a topic which got all the audience considering the ramifications of the increasing infringement by the intelligence services on our everyday lives.
Thanks are in order to the judges: Mrs Gibson, Mr Goddin, Mr Ramsey and Mr Rossiter, for taking the time out of their schedules to listen to these fine orators, and for taking on the unenviable task of picking between these speakers.  And thanks to Mr Clarke for officiating and organising this competition.

It would be fair to say that, without exception, all the speeches this year were of a high standard, and congratulations are due to all the speakers in the competition. Particular congratulations to South and the individual winners of each category, who will be part of the School team competing in the forthcoming Rotary club Youth Speaks competition in January. We wish them the best of luck.

James Edwards