Dormers Wells Pupil Shines in Public Speaking Competition

Kairo Reynolds takes third place in largest event of its kind

Kairo Reynolds is presented with his award
Kairo Reynolds is presented with his award

July 18, 2023

A pupil at Dormers Wells High School has taken third place in a public speaking competition in which there were over 30,000 entrants.

Kairo’s speech at the Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge focused on knife crime and the need for more youth clubs. Asked why he choose to discuss this topic, he said: “If young people had the opportunity to go to youth clubs to keep them off the street it would benefit them in the long run.”

The event is the world’s largest public speaking competition for young people, is run in partnership with Speakers Trust. This year alone over 30,000 Year 10 students in London and Essex state schools took part. This year also saw the programme surpass the milestone of training oracy skills to 250,000 young people since its inception.

Its aim is to encourage 14- and 15-year-olds to develop public speaking and communication skills as well as build self-esteem and confidence.

Watch Kairo’s speech, “Picture This”, here:


The Grand Final judging panel was made up of a member of the House of Lords, a CBE, a TV presenter, an actor, Olympic athlete, a writer, and a previous Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge champion, all of whom actively use their voice to engender change.

The panel included: Baroness Doreen Lawrence, the head judge who is founder of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and Member of the House of Lords; Michael Akinyemi, the winner of Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge in 2022; Peter Bennett-Jones, a producer and agent awarded a CBE in 2014 for his services to the entertainment industry; Zephryn Taitte, a stage and television actor; Cecilia Knapp, the Young People’s Laureate for London in 2020/2021; Tom Bosworth, a two-time British Olympian and advocate for LGBT equality in sport; and Alex Beresford, a TV presenter and spokesperson against knife crime.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence said: “We all have something to give to the world and using your voice to relay that is extremely important.”

Michael Akinyemi said: “It’s imperative that we as a society allow for young people to be at the forefront of leadership. Being a leader isn’t a skill that you can learn in the classroom; it takes practical experience and responsibility to be an effective leader. Empowering young people is important because the students of today are the politicians, CEOS and voices of tomorrow.”

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