Sat May 1st 2010

Shipston High reach the national final of Youth Speaks

By Nigel Willis 

Kim Haynes, Kate Higginson and Charley Caufield of Shipston High School

 

  Saturday 8th May was surely one of the most memorable days in the history of Shipston-on-Stour High School and memorable indeed for Kim Haynes, Kate Higginson and Charley Caufield who represented the school in the Final of the Rotary Great Britain and Ireland Youth Speaks competition.

The spectators did not need the judges to tell them, in the most fulsome terms, that the standard of speeches had been incredibly high and that they had found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that the speakers were so young. Shipston entered the Intermediate competition, although the Seniors' final took place simultaneously in the next hall.

There were seven teams from all corners of the country as well as the heart. Teams came from the Isle of Arran, Scotland, Mold in Flintshire, Wales, Romford in Greater London, Farnborough Hampshire, Bourne in Lincolnshire and Andover in Hampshire. All had fought their way through a series of local, area and regional competitions to reach the final. All were big winners already.

By coincidence the final had been due to take place at the home of the world's greatest playwright so those supporting Shipston did not have far to travel. Jonathan Baker, the Headteacher, attended the final as he has every round. The venue, Stratford High School, was ideal and the school, in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Stratford, organised the afternoon expertly. Morrisons very kindly provided excellent refreshments and drinks.

Shipston's topic was 'London 2012 – Is it really worth it?' After Kim's excellent introduction Kate gave a rather sobering account, in these financially straightened times, of how the costs have escalated from a mere £2-3billion by progressive stages to the current, and believed to be final, estimate of £9-10billion. But she then went on to articulate many carefully researched benefits of London 2012 including, among others: The vast array of contracts awarded to an enormous range of businesses throughout the country at a time of severe recession, the regeneration of a very rundown part of London, coincidentally the Borough of Stratford, the splendid advertisement to the watching world that a successful staging of the games will provide and the legacy of a range of magnificent sporting facilities and the excellent housing being built for the Olympic village.

Shipston were first to speak and such was their standard we felt they would be very hard to beat. But these were the cream of the cream and the Arran High School team, which was next, gave a remarkable and very witty speech entitled 'The Afterlife'. Other fine speeches came from the teams from Mold, who posed the question: Computer War Games - Corrupting Children's Minds? and Andover asking: Is Honesty Really the Best Policy? The Welsh team made an excellent case for the banning of many computer war games.

There was no doubt that the distinguished panel of three judges would have an extremely difficult decision to make. They took longer than expected. The chief judge said that there had been barely a cigarette paper between the teams. The tension was considerable as the top three were announced in reverse order. Andover third, Mold second and Arran first.

The Shipston team can take immense pride in their achievements and the Shipston Rotary Club treasures the fact that our protégés did so well.

 

20th Annual Cotswold Walk

By Nigel Willis

 

It was the beginning of May but the hard winter still had a sting in its tail. 142 hardy souls  braved the bitterly cold wind, which was particularly strong on top of the hills above Ilmington, to take part in the 20th Cotswold Walk organised, as ever, by Rotarian John Round. At least the rain largely held off and the sun appeared for a few seconds. Walkers included many Rotarians from a record 12 Rotary Clubs from throughout the Midlands, a large group from Shipston Young Firefighters, a group from Stratford branch of the University of the 3rd Age, and many regular Cotswold Walkers, all determined to enjoy the walk whatever the weather. The Shipston Young Firefighters support the walk every year whatever the weather and, as usual, they raised a substantial sum in sponsorship.

The walk is about 7 ½ miles and runs along a drovers' trail near Foxcote House, past the 2 television masts, then via Hidcote Gardens and Hidcote Boyce to Ebrington where much needed hot drinks and delicious cakes and other refreshments were welcomed by all.

The first walker set off soon after 10.0 am the last just after 1.0 pm so it was a particularly long day for the marshals keeping an eye on proceedings at the checkpoints. The walk itself raised £1,404 for local charities and good causes that Shipston Rotary club supports. Refreshments at Ebrington Village Hall alone raised £150 and the homemade cakes, breads, sausage rolls etc were highly praised. But in addition many walkers raised substantial sums in sponsorship for a range of charities and good causes. From speaking to those who took part the organisers' best estimate of the total raised in sponsorship is no less than £2,500 making a grand total raised of approximately £3,900. One walker alone raised £150 for the Air Ambulance. Our thanks are due to all helpers and all those who braved the elements and made it such a worthwhile day.

Hopefully better weather will encourage more walkers next year.

 

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