The first round of this competition was held at Aberdour School on Thursday 17th January. The teams entered were an intermediate team from Aberdour School, an intermediate and senior team from Sutton Grammar School, and an intermediate team from Wallington High School for Girls. The judges were Alicia Nicholls, Wendy Phillips and Rosalind Rokison who have all be involved in judging this competition in the past. Each team consisted of a Chairman, a Main Speaker and a Proposer of the Vote of Thanks. The Chairman and Vote of Thanks speakers were allotted 2 minutes each while the main speaker had six minutes to present his or her case. Rotarians manned a system of lights, green to go, orange as a warning that there were just 30 seconds left and red to mark time’s up. Rotarians from three clubs were involved in running the competition - Banstead, Epsom and Sutton Nonsuch Clubs
The first to speak were the Sutton Grammar School intermediate team. Their chosen subject was “Why we need to put Public before Private Transport”. Miles Searle, the main speaker, said that in Reigate and Banstead alone there were 70,000 private cars which could produce 322 metric tons of CO2 in a year, which contributes to gobal warming. He said we should rely less on cars and public transport was a great way to travel. There were also economic benefits as public transport employs over 100,000 people. Next to speak were the Aberdour intermediate team. Their subject was “Its Goodnight from Me” which was a talk about the importance of a good night’s sleep. Hyein Park was the main speaker. She said that lack of sleep can affect mental health and insomnia can lead to depression. She gave an excellent well reasoned talk. After this came Wallington High School for Girls, Ellie Halter being the main speaker. Her talk was on Gender Discrimination and focussed on equality for girls as well as boys. Ellie spoke well. Finally came the Senior Team from Sutton Grammar School. Matteo O’Donaghue was the main speaker and his subject was “Freedom of Speech must be an unrestricted right in a True Democracy.” He said that words can be harmful or offensive but censorship can force views underground. He said true grievencess should be heard. He gave an excellent speech. It was a shame that there was only one senior team, but despite this the judges thought that his speech was good enough for them to go on to the next round.
The winning team of the three intermediate schools was Sutton Grammar School who were presented with the cup and will go on to the next round of the competition. The judges said it was not easy to chose the winners as all the teams spoke well. Aberdour School provided and excellent selection of food for the interval while the judges made up their minds about who was the winner. Rosalind Rokison spoke for the judges and gave an excellent critique of the performance of each speaker.