Zara Wallace Wins Regional Round of Speak Out Challenge

Ellen Wilkinson student could compete in the grand final this July

L to R: Third place Abshiro Yusuf, Runner-Up Izabela Evans, Regional Winner Zara Wallace, and Mayor of Ealing, Cllr Hitesh Tailor. Picture: Gabriel Nita
L to R: Third place Abshiro Yusuf, Runner-Up Izabela Evans, Regional Winner Zara Wallace, and Mayor of Ealing, Cllr Hitesh Tailor. Picture: Gabriel Nita

January 23, 2024

A local student is now just one step away from the Grand Final of the UK’s largest youth public speaking event due to take place at the West End next July.

15-year-old Zara Wallace, who is in year 10 at The Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls, was crowned winner of the Regional Final of the Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge.

She wins a £100 gift certificate and now proceeds to the online semi-finals with just 37 other regional champions, before the final 15 are selected for the Grand Final, taking place at the Cambridge Theatre in Covent Garden on 8 July.

At the Grand Final, she could be competing, not only for the honour of becoming this year’s Jack Petchey's Speak Out Challenge Champion, but also for the chance to win £5,000 (a £2,000 bursary and £3,000 for her school.)

Zara was crowned Regional Champion after speaking out about how an issue that she's passionate about: the deaf community and education. Her wit and passion caught the eyes and ears of the expert judges, including Elly Heaton, Kay Stewart, Rumina Ali, Jasmine Dotiwala, Félix Le Corre, and Risha Hussain.

She said afterward, "I'm feeling excited that I could spread awareness with my speech about communication and the deaf community. Thank you to my parents!"

The competition took place at Dormer Wells High School last Thursday (18 January).

Over 30,000 Year 10 students (14–15-year-olds) from over 500 state schools in London and Essex take part in the annual event, hosted by public speaking and communication charity, Speakers Trust and funded and supported by the Jack Petchey Foundation.

According to the organisers, previous winners of the Grand Final have gone on to sell their businesses for a six-figure sum and act in Hollywood and in critically acclaimed projects. These include actors Jamie Flatters and Idris Sobande, entrepreneur Tim Armoo, writer Poppy Noor, and more.

During the training, students are given the skills and the confidence to develop and deliver a competition speech on a topic that is important to them. The aim of the training and competition is to amplify young voices.

Runner-up title went to Izabela Evans, representing William Perkin Church of England High School, with a compelling speech titled “Silence” and Third Place went to Abshiro Yusuf from Featherstone High School, with the speech “Empower, embrace and excel”.

The Worshipful Mayor of Ealing, Cllr Hitesh Tailor attended the event and listened to the compelling speeches. He gave out the prizes and congratulated all speakers for their efforts. He said, “It was a very, very good evening. And I really found the speakers interesting in different ways, telling their stories and the compelling nature with which they presented it. It was just fantastic, to be honest. I think they should be proud of themselves. They all did brilliantly!”

Value Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More

This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.

Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.

We've always done that and won't be changing, in fact we'd like to do more.

However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.

We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.

A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.

One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.

If you do support us in this way we'd be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you'd like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.