Delivered by Speakers Trust and funded by the Jack Petchey Foundation, Treasure Ebruke from The Sydenham School scooped top prize in the Lewisham regional final of Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge, held at Prendergast Ladywell Fields School.

Treasure impressed the judges with her winning speech The Nation’s Silent Killer fighting off stiff competition from 18 other young speakers from schools in the Lewisham area.

About the experience she said: “So overwhelmed. There were so many great speeches. I had fantastic support.”

After just one day of public speaking and effective communication training, 380 year 10 students aged 14-15, from 11 schools in Lewisham took part in the Speak Out competition.

Treasure won a £100 gift certificate for coming first and a chance to go through to the grand final of the Speak Out Challenge! due to take place on July 3 at the Cambridge Theatre.

Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor for Lewisham and Heidi Alexander, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Lewisham East presented the awards.

About the evening Sir Steve said: “When I was at school, I started doing this kind of thing (public speaking). What I learnt then, stuck with me, right down the years, and it is about self-confidence... whatever situation, it might be in an interview for a job; it might just be making sure you are being heard; that process of being encouraged to stand up in front of your fellows and talk about something or read a poem, really really does make a difference.”

Heidi Alexander said: "I listen to a lot of speeches in the House of Commons, and can I say that what I've heard this evening is by far and away so much better than lots of speeches I hear up in Westminster. I think we probably have, hopefully, a couple of politicians in the making.

"In a couple of years’ time I really really hope some of those young people who have been on this stage this evening are a voice for Lewisham in parliament, no matter what political party, but that we need to find a way of getting more young people's voices heard in our democracy."

The judging panel at the event included: Tim Pare, Director, First Give; Barbara Mills, Barrister at Law; Tomos Davies, Director, Teach First; Susan Taylor, Chairman - My Showcase; Vice Chair - Look Good Feel Better; Peter Botting, Strategy, Storytelling & TEDMED Speaker Coach; Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Author, The New Brand Spirit, Consultant, C-3i; Steve Marks, Sergeant, Volunteer Police Cadets, Youth Engagement; Jenny Garrett, TEDx Speaker, Leadership Trainer, Women & Teen Advocate; and Abigail Huruy, Runner Up, Lewisham “Speak Out” Challenge 2016.

Second place went to Timi Kalejaiye, 15, from St Matthew Academy with his speech Relax and third place went to Erica Appiah, 15, from the St Matthew Academy with her speech titled Naked People.

Jack Petchey’s Speak Out challenge is the biggest public speaking event of its kind in the world. Now in its 11th year, over 18,000 year 10 students are expected to compete for nearly £6,000 worth of prizes in this year’s grand final.

Article submitted by Frankie Rushton