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Queenswood is an extraordinary place with extraordinary people. It would be our privilege to educate your daughters here.

The John Fry Public Speaking Competition 2023

Friday 3 March 2023

The entire school came together, in the Clarissa Farr Theatre and via a live stream to classrooms, for the final of the John Fry Public Speaking Competition on Friday 3 March.

Now in its 15th year, the contest brings together Queenswood’s finest orators and debaters to speak on a given topic and to answer questions from the floor. It is a test of courage, conviction and clear thinking, and this year our five finalists acquitted themselves superbly.

They were each assigned a well-known quotation to discuss, and were free to take their argument in any direction. The topics and speakers were as follows:

  • Elizabeth J (Year 12): ‘In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.’ – Edward Stieglitz
  • Sophia M (Year 13): ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr
  • Kat K (Year 11): ‘Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.’ – John F Kennedy
  • Emily H (Year 11): ‘Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.’ – Oscar Wilde
  • Isabel S (Year 12): ‘Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.’ – Margaret Mead

We also heard from the four winners of the Junior John Fry Competition: Aanya S (Year 7), Valentina T (Year 8), Constantina M-K (Year 8) and Talya R (Year 9), who gave very impassioned and articulate speeches during the adjudication.

You can watch short extracts from each of the speeches below. If you would like to view a recording of the entire competition, please contact [email protected].

Our guest judge was Bim Afolami, Member of Parliament for Hitchin and Harpenden. He found the task of selecting a winner especially difficult. Joking that he had ‘sat through a lot of this sort of thing’ since his schooldays, Bim remarked that the competition was ‘very high quality’. He praised the contestants’ clear, confident delivery and ability to command the audience’s attention.

Ultimately the John Fry Public Speaking trophy was awarded to Emily H. We would like to congratulate her and her fellow contestants, and thank everyone who helped to make this event such a success.