Newbury Park student beats 16,000 to win public speaking competition

A confident student, who took inspiration from his friends, has won the top prize beating 16,000 other competitors in a public-speaking competition.

Marcello Harle Cowan, 16, of Bawdsey Avenue, Newbury Park, was crowned the winner of the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge final at the Southbank Centre on Monday.

The competition, which saw youngsters aged 14 and 15 speak for three minutes on their chosen subject, is run by Speakers Trust and funded by the Jack Petchey Foundation, Clements Lane, Ilford.

Marcello’s speech was titled Real Friends and impressed the judges, headed by Ilford North MP Lee Scott, with his self-deprecating style and humour.

The Oaks Park High School, Oaks Lane, Newbury Park, pupil said: “I decided to talk about my close friendships because they are very important to me. Getting through the difficult times is easy when someone’s next to you.

“Taking part in the competition has been amazing and the quality of all the finalists was so high so I had no idea who would win.”

The student, who is currently studying for his GCSEs, has entered two group speaking competitions in the past but had never got as far as the final before.

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He said: “It has been brilliant in helping me become more confident and public speaking is easier than you think. Once you are up there, in the moment, you just forget about being nervous.”

Speakers Trust has trained more than 100,000 people and is one of the UK’s main public speaking training providers.


Marcello’s mentor and advanced skills teacher at the school, Reena Mellies, said: “Marcello really is an exceptional student and he is still so young. What made him stand out was his integrity and how he sought advice whilst also questioning and defending his choice of subject.

“He has worked independently and his message really came from the heart. He definitely deserved to win.”

To find out more about the competition visit www.speak