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Harrow student crowned winner of the Regional Final of Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out Challenge”

A Harrow student is now just one step away from the Grand Final of the UK’s largest youth public speaking event due to take place at the West End next July.

Desarae Anthony, 15, a year 10 student from Nower Hill High School in Harrow was crowned winner of the Regional Final of the Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out Challenge” which took place in Bentley Wood High School on March 14th, 2024.

Over 30,000 Year 10 students (14-15 year olds) in over 500 state schools in London and Essex take part in the annual event, hosted by the UK’s leading public speaking and communication charity, Speakers Trust and funded and supported by the Jack Petchey Foundation.

Previous winners of the Grand Final have gone on to….sell their businesses for 6 figures, act in Hollywood and in critically acclaimed projects, become influencers and public speakers. These include: Actors Jamie Flatters and Idris Sobande, entrepreneur Tim Armoo, writer Poppy Noor, and more.

Desarae Anthony was crowned Regional Champion, with a powerful speech titled “Passion”. In this speech, she emphasizes the importance of finding and pursuing one’s passion, as it is the driving force behind a fulfilling life and can lead to remarkable achievements.

Her confidence and passion caught the attention of the expert judges, including: Nana Owusu- Clinical Lead / Director of Children and Young Peoples Services Hardip Begol- Non-Executive Director, Ofqual (the qualifications and exams regulator) Jada Eduvie- Programme Manager and Entrepreneur Maria Laly- Student at Bentley Wood High School and 2023 Regional Final Runner Up Martin Payne- Accountant, Balfour Beatty plc and Actor Janet Mote- Councillor for North Harrow, former Mayor of Harrow

Desarae now proceeds to the online semi-finals with just 37 other regional champions, before the final 15 are selected for the Grand Final, taking place at the prestigious Cambridge Theatre on 8th of July!

During the training, students are given the skills and the confidence to develop and deliver a competition speech on a topic that is important to them. The aim of the training and competition is to amplify young voices.

Desarae said: “Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge has been a wonderful experience. I’ve not only been able to learn but gain confidence and share my message with everyone.”

The winner receives a £100 gift certificate and is now on track for the Grand Final of the competition, held at the Cambridge Theatre, Covent Garden.

Runner-Up title went to Sara Dawson, representing Pinner High School, with a speech about the importance and value of time, and Third Place went to Priya Kaur-Lawley also from Pinner High School, with a speech titled “My Messy Room”.

The Worshipful The Mayor of Harrow, Cllr Ramji Chauhan, witnessed the incredible night of speeches and gave the awards to the top winners. Here’s what he said:

“I found the event inspiring, unique and rewarding that showed off amazing young talent here in Harrow. This gave each students a big stage to demonstrate their abilities and feelings to deliver such rewarding and compelling speeches. I wish every young person here tonight the chance to use their communication skills to help build a better future. Live long and prosper.”

At the Grand Final, Desarae Anthony could be competing not only for the honour of becoming this year’s Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge Grand Champion but also for the chance to win £5,000 (a £2,000 bursary for himself and £3,000 for his school.)