BBC's Anjana Gadgil judges public speaking competition

BBC's Anjana Gadgil and best-selling author, Lucy Foley, both Portsmouth High School alumnae, were amongst the judges for a Girls' Day School Trust public speaking competition.

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2nd March 2020 — Portsmouth High School, GDST, was delighted to host the finals of a prestigious public speaking competition last week.

Five girls from across other Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) schools made emotionally compelling speeches in front of three expert judges; Anjana Gadgil, BBC Television Presenter, BBC South Today, Lucy Foley, best-selling novelist and Cheryl Giovannoni, Chief Executive of the GDST and an audience of girls, teachers and parents as they took part in the final of the Chrystall Carter public speaking competition. Students are given a topic relating to societal issues of today and must give a confident argument of their view on that topic. They must also be able to engage with the audience and deal with challenging questions posed to them after their speech.

Sarena from Croydon High School, Inaya from Notting Hill and Ealing, Cordelia from Sheffield High School, Rosie from Wimbledon High School and Eleanor from Oxford High School took part in the finals of the competition which has been held since 2001.

The competition was set up in memory of a GDST employee, Chrystall Carter. Mr Michael Oakley, the then Chief Executive, two former colleagues of Chrystall’s, Peter Warren and Colin Ward and the current Chief Executive, Cheryl Giovannoni attended the finals at Portsmouth High School as well as the prestigious judges.

‘Every one of the Presentations was excellent and the winner outstanding,’ said Michael Oakley. ‘The standard overall was probably the highest I have seen.’

The six minute speeches ranged from ‘Memory is the most important part of identity’ to ‘Fake news has always been around. In fact all news is fake in some way’. The judges chose Sarena from Croydon High School as the winner of this year’s competition for her speech ‘The fear of racial other is inherent in every nation. We should be embracing otherness rather than attempting to eliminate it.’

‘It is shocking to hear that I have won,’ said Sarena whose parents and grandmother were in the audience. ‘The experience as a whole was out of the ordinary for me because I’d never done anything like it - so it was a bit daunting at first and I felt privileged just to be able to listen to the other speakers let alone take part. I have just been happy to be here, let alone win.’

Cheryl Giovannoni, Chair of the Judges and Chief Executive of the GDST said: ‘It has been a brilliant afternoon with five talented finalists who give me such confidence in the future. Congratulations to Sarena who was outstanding. And to Eleanor from Oxford High who was a worthy runner-up.’

Anjana Gadgil, Portsmouth High School alumna from the Class of 1996, added: ‘This has been an inspirational afternoon. The girls have tackled complex subjects with so much confidence.’

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