Jack Petchey Foundation
If you think you can, you can!

Grand Champion of the 2015 Jack Petchey's Speak Out Challenge! announced

15 year old Anna Gunstone from Bexley wowed a packed audience at the Piccadilly Theatre last night (06 July) and was crowned Grand Champion of this year’s Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge!

Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! is the biggest youth public speaking event of its kind in the world.

Anna was one of just 15 finalists from an overall intake of over 17,000 year 10 students across London and Essex who have been learning public speaking skills through a series of workshops and regional competitions.

Anna spoke on ‘A State of Mind’, a moving and informative speech which challenged listeners to not treat mental health as a ‘dirty little secret’ but to talk openly about it.

Anna and her 14 fellow finalists were judged on delivery (body language, tone, pace etc.) structure (clear beginning, middle, end and a thread that carries you through), and content (interesting, engaging, clear).

Brenda Emmanus, BBC Arts & Entertainment Correspondent and the Chief Judge said; “This event is a masterclass in excellence. I am impressed and inspired and truly excited by the future, in the hands of these youth! I think Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge!  is an absolutely brilliant programme, a brilliant incentive, and I pray that it goes on for a long time to come.”

On hearing that she had won Anna said; “I didn’t expect this! I am ecstatic! It was a great atmosphere, not competitive at all, I felt I’ve made lots of new friends.

The judges this year included:

Brenda Emmanus, BBC Arts & Entertainment Correspondent and Chief Judge
Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner
Ashish Joshi, Sky News Correspondent & Journalist
Artemis Irvine, Grand Final Champion 2014
Heather Melville, Corporate Banker at RBS and a Magistrate
Shivvy Jervis, Head of Digital Media (Telefonica) & 2015 Top 10 Future Leader for Britain
Dave Brown, Director of Operations at London Fire Brigade 
Michael Omoniyi, UK Youth Parliament & UK Ambassador to the European Union 

Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! Patron, The Baroness King of Bow, said “The Speak Out Challenge! is about getting talent up on the stage but it’s also about discovering new talent across the spectrum. Once you can get on the stage and speak in public you’re on your way to conquering the world!”

Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! was created, in partnership with Speakers Trust, to encourage young people, in year 10, to develop public speaking skills and build their overall confidence. The Speak Out Challenge includes a series of workshops to help students develop their speeches and delivery. These are run in the schools with the support of teachers. Now in its ninth year, Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge!  has trained over 100,000 young people.

In an independent evaluation report carried out by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR), 93% of young people thought Speak Out Challenge should be part of the school programme and 96.5% of teachers hope to continue running it.

In addition, 83% of young people believe that the skills learned in the Speak Out Challenge would help them in applying for and getting a job.

Jack Petchey CBE says; “ I am so proud of these young people. Their confidence and ability to express themselves shows that our mission “if you think you can – you can” is being fulfilled”.

Anna will receive £2,000 to invest in her education, and £3,000 for her school, Townley Grammar School. Richard Booth, deputy Head Teacher said “Anna’s a very special person who has a great empathy with the world and her speech spoke to many. We are really proud of her as a school’.

The other winners on the night were:

Runner up

Jamie Flatters, Lambeth Academy, Lambeth

3rd Place

Ryan Parsons, Harris Academy, Beckenham, Bromley

4th Place

Nancy Gilmartin, Sacred Heart High School, Hammersmith & Fulham


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“A brilliant programme, a brilliant incentive, and I proay it goes on for a long time to come!”