Laura has her say!

A DALRIADA student has achieved second place in the whole provice in the Annual Youth Award Public Speaking competition, supported by Progressive Building Society, Northern Ireland’s largest locally owned mortgage lender.

Organised by Soroptimist International, the Northern Ireland competition is annually open to female students who are in Years 12 and 13, and are in full time education. The final recently took place on Saturday, 23rd February at Magee Campus of the University of Ulster.

Representing Bangor Soroptimists, Jessica Galway from Kircubbin won the competition with the topic ‘Books: Are They a Thing of the Past?’ by competing in her local heat of the competition.

Thirteen finalists were selected from heats organised by regional Soroptimist clubs. In recent years, the competition has experienced a marked increase in entries and now annually attracts around 100 entries from right across the Province.

Laura Abernethy from Ballymoney, represented the Ballymoney club, speaking on the topic ‘To frack or not to frack: That is the question.’

Laura received The Betty Hudson Memorial Cup and gift donated by Gerald Hudson. Her school received a £75 book token.

The competition’s adjudicators included Professor Mary McColgan, Mrs Irene Miskimmon and Ms Sarah Brett.

Thoroughly astounded by the standard of the speeches at the final, Elaine Molyneaux from Progressive Building Society, said, “As a mutual society committed to supporting its local community, Progressive is proud to support this competition that encourages young women to develop such valuable tools as good communication skills.

“I’ve been highly impressed by what I’ve heard - both the content and delivery of the speeches have been excellent. These young women have developed the skills and abilities necessary to voice their opinions on topical subjects in an informed and confident manner. It is not surprising that this competition is recognised within many educational establishments as one of the top public speaking events in Northern Ireland.”

Congratulating all girls who made the final, Miriam Hamilton, Northern Ireland Regional President of Soroptimist International, said; “Public speaking is an essential Key Skills qualification that students are now expected to gain, however our organisation has been championing the cause for over thirty years through this competition. We began the Public Speaking Competition in 1982 with the aim of promoting and encouraging young women from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to meet, compete and widen their horizons.

“Our thanks go to all who have supported the competition and help us strive for continued growth. This year they include Progressive Building Society, the University of Ulster, the Principals and Staff of the schools, parents and competitors.”