Youth Speaks – 28 November 2017

Belmont Academy hosted this year’s Rotary-sponsored Youth Speaks competition. This was the local round to select those teams to go forward to the West of Scotland District stage early next year. Three teams were entered: Kyle Academy in the intermediate category and Carrick Academy along with Belmont in the senior category. The formidable judging panel comprised three former teachers (Eileen Haddow, Lynn McWilliam and Allan McWilliam) and an ex-policeman (Craig Alexander); there to conduct appropriate interrogation of the teams.

First up was Kyle, alerting us to the dangers of the internet. Nathan Hewitt, Lewis MacDonald and Philip Faulds gave a knowledgeable account of what to look out for and this included catphishing (a term new to some of we older people), grooming, and theft via email. Aggression, threat and bullying were also highlighted. Lynn McWilliam, speaking for the judges, complimented the trio on their bravery and ability in public speaking and confirmed that they would be sponsored in the challenging District competition stage by Ayr Rotary Club.


First for the seniors’ ‘Talk-Off’ was the team from Carrick, represented by Drew Maxwell, Robbie Paterson and Scott Anderson on ‘The value of remembering history’. In a confident and robust delivery, Robbie amused and educated the audience in the conflicting views of ancient philosophers on the importance and usefulness of history. In an aside, he ventured that significant Scottish culture was perhaps obscured by popular history (e.g. Robert Burns!!!!).



The Belmont Academy team (Emma Crawford, Michael Lafferty and Gemma Munro) chose to discuss how modern communications were impacting adversely on conventional social skills including everyday conversation. In a thought-provoking discourse they cited Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and general texting as instrumental in making people less able to communicate logically and rationally. Oblique reference was made in this context to the current president of the US.

In her summing up, Lynn McWilliam praised the teams for their efforts, while making useful suggestions as to how their presentation skills might be further improved. She then announced the judges’ unanimous decision that the winning team was Carrick Academy who would go through to the District stage, sponsored again by Ayr Rotary Club. Close runners-up, Belmont Academy, were not to be outdone however and they too would compete in the District stage, sponsored by Alloway Rotary Club.


Ayr Rotary President, Craig Wilson, presented the winner’s plate and the certificates.