Eastbourne pupils come out top at hard-fought public speaking event

Cup winners Niamh Yates, Rachel Lucas and Amber Blake of Gildredge House celebrated their win with Caroline Ansell and John Bercow
Cup winners Niamh Yates, Rachel Lucas and Amber Blake of Gildredge House celebrated their win with Caroline Ansell and John Bercow

‘Stellar performances’ by Eastbourne schoolchildren won them first place in a public speaking competition attended by House of Commons speaker John Bercow.

Gildredge House has now hit a hat-trick after winning the first three competitions since the Ian Gow Cup was launched in 2015 by former Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell.

Caroline Ansell and Mr Speaker Rt Hon John Bercow MP with pupils from Gildredge House, Eastbourne Academy, St Catherines College and Willingdon Community School

Caroline Ansell and Mr Speaker Rt Hon John Bercow MP with pupils from Gildredge House, Eastbourne Academy, St Catherines College and Willingdon Community School

Mrs Ansell said, “It was an extremely hard-fought competition this year and there was an exceptionally high standard from all the schools with several stellar performers and moments of high drama and humour.

“Many congratulations to Gildredge House and to all those who competed. It was a fantastic evening at the Birley Centre and the young people who took part were truly engaging and inspiring. Maybe the next Eastbourne MP or Speaker of the House of Commons was in our midst.”

All teams were commended by Freddie Daniels, the National Speech Evaluator Champion with Toastmasters International.

In his address John Bercow also added his personal congratulations and emphasised just how valuable and important the ability and confidence to speak in public was.

Caroline thanked the Eastbourne Speakers Club and sponsors local solicitors, Gaby Hardwicke and hosts, Eastbourne College for its support and added the competition continues to go from strength to strength.

It was set up to honour former Eastbourne MP Ian Gow, who was killed in a car bomb at his constituency home by the provisional IRA in 1990.

Giles Robinson, sponsor and event chairman, said, “I am delighted a number of the competitors were so enthused as to approach me afterwards to ask about what further opportunities there might be for them to undertake more public speaking in future.

“The ability to communicate clearly is not just about speaking at someone, but ensuring that a message is received and understood.

“If this competition has inspired the next generation then it has done its job. We look forward to next year’s competition”.

While Headmaster Tom Lawson said, “I am delighted Eastbourne College was able to host the Ian Gow Memorial Cup, and to welcome so many impressive pupils from local schools and many important VIP guests and judges.

“The connection of this event with Ian Gow is clearly a precious one for the Eastbourne community, and we would be very pleased to continue to host this great event in the future to show our support for it, and for all that represents.”