Coleraine girl through to Soroptimist public speaking final

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A schoolgirl has won the Coleraine heat for the opportunity to speak out at the Northern Ireland Final of Soroptimist International’s Annual Youth Award Public Speaking Competition, supported by Progressive Building Society,

Alyson Nicholl, a pupil of Coleraine High School, won one of only 14 coveted positions in the final.

Her winning speech on the topic ‘Equality for women and girls is not only a human right – it is a social and economic imperative’ (Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary General).

The competition annually attracts around 100 entries and, in this 30th anniversary year of the competition, the final will take place in the Great Hall in Stormont’s Parliament Buildings, on Saturday, February 25, hosted by Anna Lo MLA.

Hazel Holmlund, Northern Ireland Regional President of Soroptimist International, said, “At the final, as well as delivering a prepared speech each girl will be required to deliver an extempore speech without research. All the speeches will be judged on content, presentation, delivery and impact.

“The competition is designed specifically to target female Year 12 and 13 students who are in full time education in Northern Ireland.

“This year topics include ‘The European Union – a victim of its own success?’, ‘Tuition fees – back to the days when you needed class or brass to go to university?’, and ‘In today’s digital era anyone can be a citizen journalist – is that a good or bad thing?’”

Looking forward to hearing the speeches of the silver tongued finalists, Dr Joan Smyth, Chairman of the Progressive Building Society, said: “I’m looking forward to hearing the speeches, which I know from attending previous finals, are of an exceptionally high standard. I’m regularly inspired by the young women and look forward to hearing what they have to say.”

The winner will receive the Soroptimist Youth Award Perpetual Salver donated by Oneida Silversmiths and a replica, a bursary award of £250 towards her education, and an invitation to deliver a speech at the Soroptimist International joint North/South conference in Wexford, from May 18-20. The winner’s school will also receive a monetary award.

RIGHT: Coleraine High School pupil Alyson Nicholl. CR6-185s