An event which takes place to encourage young people in public speaking held its 30th year of competition recently.

The local heat of the 2016/17 Youth Speaks competition took place on January 20 at St Mary’s School in Gerrards Cross.

It attracted entries from St Mary’s and Thorpe House schools at both intermediate - ages 11–13 - and senior - ages 14-17 - levels.

The aims of the competition are to support young people in gaining practical experience in public speaking and to help develop their skills and confidence.

This year’s presentations, which saw entries from five teams, provided views on a range of subjects from the everyday to the philosophical.

At intermediate level, the winners were the St Mary’s team of Kat Clifford, Khyati Thanvi and Cara Wolvaart with their provocativ presentation on ‘Opinions’.

At senior level, it was the Thorpe House team of Benjamin Wober, Quinn Longman and Amarveen Perewall with their passionate and articulate views on ‘Interminable Irritations’.

The Howard Ensor Trophy for best individual performance went to Avneet Bhachu of the senior St Mary’s team on the subject ‘A dangerous woman is a great woman’.

Judges were Baroness Emma Pidding, member of the House of Lords, Fiona Gray, actress and LAMDA teacher and Antony Aston, treasurer of Gerrards Cross Community Association.

Local photographer, Micki Aston, lent her support to the occasion, and leading the proceedings this year as Master of Ceremonies was local Rotarian, John Krushner.

The winning teams now progress to a zone heat in Marlow and, if successful there and in later stages, the National Final will be in April.

John Lomas, president of the Rotary Club of Gerrards Cross and Chalfont St Peter, which organised the local event, congratulated all participants: “The level of competence and confidence of these young speakers continues to astound.

"They are quite remarkable."