Last Friday I was delighted to visit Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park with parents and pupils of Bickley Park School to listen and judge the finals of its public speaking competition.
Armed with nothing more than a soapbox, students as young as six stood up and made incredibly confident, articulate speeches, many without notes, on topics as varied as cyber-bullying, childhood obesity and sea life. What impressed me most was the gusto and Churchillian spirit with which all of the boys delivered their speeches, attracting tourists and passers-by to the growing crowd watching the event.
As I understand it, this was the first school event of its kind at Speakers’ Corner, so congratulations must also go to Patrick Wenham and the school staff who organised the competition. In their own small way, the pupils taking part have added to the rich history of Speakers’ Corner – a symbol of free speech recognised around the globe – and can rightly be very proud of their efforts.