Students from Chailey School and Priory School, Lewes, have proved both their eloquence and confidence.
They have battled through to the area final of the English-Speaking Union’s public speaking competition.
The two schools’ teams emerged victorious from the area heat at Brighton College, where they were up against the hosts, Moira House, Eastbourne, and Brighton and Hove School for Girls.
Priory’s line-up saw Ollie Gill speak persuasively on the subject of euthanasia, Lucy Measure-Hughes present a charming and welcoming chairperson and Tess Angus produce some probing and erudite questions.
Chailey, in the form of Odhran O’Donoghue (speaker), Rhiannon Goss (chair) and Tom Stone (questioner), were all highly commended for their contributions.
Odhran’s wonderfully inventive rumination on the title ‘The search for extra terrestrial activity is a colossal waste of government time and money’ won him plaudits from every sector of the transfixed audience – but in particular from the judges who regarded it as ‘superb’.
He spoke without notes for five minutes riding the laughs as he cleverly and often satirically attacked the proposition. Equally eloquently he then defended himself against a barrage of questions from the audience and other students.
Just as important – as this is a team competition – were the contributions of Rhiannon and Tom, both of whom had to join the team from Priory for their presentation. Rhiannon commanded the stage increasingly “developing a good rapport with the audience” as one of the judges remarked.
Tom had the potentially tricky job of probing a very clever speech about dying with dignity but he carried it off with aplomb and emerged as the best questioner of the night.