Regional winners from all over the country gathered in the K Club in Straffan, County Kildare to battle it out in the fiercely competitive final of the Soroptimist Girls’ Public Speaking Competition 2019.
Two Westmeath students, Sophie Ray, who studies at Wilson’s Hospital, Multyfarnham, and Clodagh Moxham, a student at Athlone Community College, both reached the national final, delivering impressively strong and thought-provoking performances.
Waterford student, Holly Rogan, was crowned the overall winner on the night.
To reach Sunday’s event, the eight finalists had passed through challenging local and regional heats.
This year’s competition was sponsored by HSBC for the first time and a total of 303 students from more than 180 secondary schools around the country competed to represent their school in the final.
Schools in Waterford City, Gorey, Ennis, Mullingar, Tralee, Athlone, Limerick and Swinford were represented in the final with the debaters judged on their style of delivery, presentation and knowledge demonstrated.
While delivering speeches of six minutes, the finalists were challenged to consider matters such as the impact of global food extremes, the causes of gender inequality and the importance of education.
The winner was awarded the Perpetual Mildred O’Brien Trophy as well as an Apple iPad and a prize to the value of €1,000 for her school while all finalists were awarded a gift for themselves and their teacher.
Moya Murphy, National Convenor, Soroptimist International Ireland praised the high standard of this year’s participants, saying: “The energy, enthusiasm and talent shown by the finalists is a testament to the impressive candidates we saw throughout all stages of the competition.
“We would like to thank the participants for their dedication and effort and we hope that the experience will give them the confidence to achieve their potential and realise their aspirations in the future.
“We would also like to thank the teachers and schools which provide such important support to the girls and give up their time to assist them throughout the competition.”
Lorraine Donnelly, head of Global Liquidity and Cash Management Ireland at HSBC, said: “HSBC is delighted to sponsor such a fantastic project which is so well-suited to our ambition to support the development of female talent.
“The competition gives young women the opportunity to practice and perfect the public speaking and debating skills which will serve them well in their professional and public life.”