Over eighty young people actively participated in five heats of the ESU-Churchill Public Speaking Competition for school years 9-11 organised by the branch across the county. Thirty of them performed a second time by appearing at Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, in February 2019 at the local final, which was managed in two divisions.
The event was compered in turn by prolific organisers, James Scruby and Karen Bellerby. The judges, all ESU members, were accomplished Toastmaster, Julie Kenny, primary school public speaking founder, Nicky Browne, and branch chair, Brian Cooke.
For the northern area, the team representing New Hall School, Chelmsford, were adjudged the winners and comprised chair, Oliver Pilling, questioner, William Bidwell and speaker, Zac Petre-Azeem, who gave a structured argument in favour of the police being armed. Oliver and Zac were also named best in role alongside Carys Jones-Lang of Saffron Walden County High School. Faraz Gul of King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, was awarded the prize as outstanding personality.
The winning team for the southern area was from Brentwood School and was made up of Anisa Sarwar, who was named as best chair, Mayukha Rodrigo and Nicole Fergus, who spoke eloquently about the influence of the media. The award for best questioner was given to Mads Bowden of St Thomas More High School, Westcliff-on-sea, and that for best speaker to Ethan Locke, who addressed the topic of mental illness in schools. The winning teams from both areas progress to the regional final.
Grateful thanks were expressed to Anglia Ruskin University for providing an excellent auditorium free of charge and welcoming young people to a site of entrepreneurial higher education.