One of the principal aims of the Catenian Association is to advance the interests of young people. Every year regional heats are arranged by local Catenians for students aged 16 to 18 in Catholic education to participate in public speaking competitions to find the contestants for the Association’s National Public Speaking Contest in Manchester later that year.
In our modern world it is essential that young people equip themselves with the skills to communicate clearly and effectively. To this end, competitors from 10 Midland Catholic secondary schools, their families, friends, teachers and Catenians converged on Bishop Milner Catholic College in Dudley on the afternoon of Sunday, 7 April for the Midland area heat of the Contest, which was organised this year by the Stourbridge Circle of the Association.
His Grace Archbishop Bernard Longley is the Patron of the Contest and he was joined on the judging panel by chief adjudicator Mr David Handy, Senior Student Recruitment Manager from Newman University, and by Mrs Angela Clancy, an experienced teacher. The judges and audience were treated to an extremely high level of speeches, with the contestants speaking on a number of subjects chosen by themselves from a varied list, ranging from ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ to ‘Are freedom fighters terrorists?’.
As the students waited for the panel of judges to deliberate, the audience was entertained by Andrew Temba, a talented student pianist at Bishop Milner College. Before announcing the winners, Mr David Handy commented on the quality of the speeches and gave the young people some advice on how to improve on their already high standards, particularly with regard to their choice of topic. He suggested it should be one that they are passionate and knowledgeable about, as this will show in the quality of the presentation.
After Archbishop Bernard had presented every competitor with a certificate and a £20 gift voucher, the top three places were announced. In third place was Natalie Andrews from Bishop Walsh Catholic School, Sutton Coldfield and in second place was Niamh Gibbons of Bishop Milner Catholic College. They received certificates and gift vouchers for £50 and £75 respectively. In first place was Linto Tom from St Augustine’s Catholic High School in Redditch, who received a certificate, a voucher for £100, the Catenian Association Shield, and £100 for her School.
The main organiser for the competition, Stourbridge Catenian Peter Harrington, said in conclusion, ‘We offer a big ‘thank you’ to the teachers who give so much of their time working with the students and all those who have supported them in their endeavours. We hope that all who have taken part today will draw positives from the experience and we wish them well, both for today, and more especially in their future chosen careers.