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

Winner of the world's biggest youth speaking competition announced

Ajaye McDonald, aged 15, from Bishop Justus Church of England School, Bromley, was announced the winner of this year’s Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge!, the world’s biggest youth speaking competition with over 18,000 young people taking part this year. He wowed a packed audience at the Grand Final held at the Piccadilly Theatre on Monday 4th July.

Now celebrating its tenth year, Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! has delivered public speaking skills training to over 135,000 Year 10 pupils (aged 14 to 15) in front of an audience of over 900,000 people.

Ajaye spoke about ‘Living your best life’ and the challenges that people face on a daily basis, particularly living with a disability, outlining his own personal experience. On hearing that he had won Ajaye said; “Wooooooow, this has been amazing. I’d advise everyone to follow their dream no matter what!”

David Hoare, Chair of Ofsted and Chief Judge at the Grand Final said there was an “Incredibly high standard!  Everyone one of them are winners…or should be!”

The judges this year included David Hoard, Chairman, Ofsted; Shami Chakrabarti, Human Rights Campaigner; Ben Haenow, X Factor Champion 2014; Charlotte Ross, Senior Deputy Editor, Evening Standard; Peter Norris, Chairman, The Virgin Group; Solomon Ian-Sangala, CEO, Attire X; Ben Cooper, Controller, BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra and Anna Gunstone, Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! Champion 2015.

Sir Jack Petchey, aged 90, said “I enjoyed listening to all the Grand Finalists speak. I would never have done this in front of such a big audience at that age!  They were confident, passionate and make me so proud. Being able to speak in public gives youngsters skills they can use in interviews, at school and in the future. I want to congratulate all the 18,000 that took part. Anyone who thinks young people can’t express themselves should hear this year’s winner.”

Ajaye will receive £2,000 to invest in his education, and £3,000 for his school, Bishop Justus Church of England School, Bromley. Second place went to Jo Wright, Henrietta Barnett School, Barnet; third place went to Laurence Wise, Richard Challoner School, Kingston and fourth place went to Shaniya Odulawa from Greenwich Free School, Greenwich.

Notes for Editors

1)    Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! was created, as a partnership between the Jack Petchey Foundation and Speakers Trust, to encourage young people, in year 10, to develop public speaking skills and build their overall confidence. The 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 tenth year, Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge!  has trained over 100,000 young people.

2)    Around 550 state schools from 37 regions throughout London and Essex are eligible to take part in the Challenge. Students from these schools have attended a one-day effective communication skills day, training them in public speaking and coaching them to think on their feet within a fun, interactive and safe environment. The training day culminates in a "Speak Out" speech contest in which students can speak on any topic they feel strongly about. There are no restrictions on their subject of choice. However, no notes, no prompts and no podiums are permitted - only their voices, their words and their passion.

3)    The Grand Finalists were judged on delivery (body language, tone, pace) structure (clear beginning, middle, end and a thread that carries you through), and content (interesting, engaging, clear). 

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