Dr Tony Wood retired as President and Chairman from the English Speaking Union’s (ESU) Ouse Valley (OV) Branch, after many years of wonderful service, at the branch luncheon on 13th December 2021, at the Sharnbrook Hotel, Bedfordshire.
The speaker was John Jammes, Croix de Guerre (awarded in 1944, aged 17), a friend of Tony’s and long standing member of the OV branch, who gave a fascinating speech based on memories of some of his experiences in the French Resistance as a schoolboy, during WW11.
There was a formal presentation, led by the Vice-Chairman Roger Cornwell, gifts included: a unique, beautifully framed painting of his home by one of the members, Thelma Marks and an engraved glass trophy.
One of the 2021 Zoom Primary Public Speaking winners George and his teacher Dan, presented Tony with a second engraved glass trophy on behalf of all the local schools that had taken part in the primary competitions and embedding workshops over the years.
Dr. Wood initiated the ‘Bedfordshire Junior School Public Speaking and Debate Academy Competitions’ in 2010. Prior to this, he undertook research in primary schools in the UK, setting up an oracy research pilot project of speaking and listening activities, resulting in a resource bank for teachers. Subsequently, other branches have followed his lead and introduced primary competitions to complement the secondary school ones already in place.
Dr. Wood, alongside his volunteering responsibilities with the Ouse Valley Branch, had been on the ESU Board of Trustees twice. The ESU Director General, Jane Easton, sent a tribute that was read at the branch lunch by Ellen Punter, the Ouse Valley Branch Acting Chair, who presented Dr. Wood with a framed copy.
Here is an excerpt from this tribute:
‘The English-Speaking Union today pays tribute to Dr Tony Wood for his exceptional charitable service. Tony’s commitment to teaching and learning and his particular dedication to giving young people the best possible start in life has shaped his work with the ESU over many years. Tony’s dedication to widening participation and giving every child the confidence to speak in public, has provided life-changing opportunities for thousands of young people, not just in the Ouse Valley area, but across the UK and internationally.’