A triumphant victory came as an apt closing to what had been a very successful year for the Public Speaking and Debating Society at Foyle College. Blake Gray, a Year 13 Pupil at Foyle College was one of six pupils selected by the judges throughout various rounds of the NI Schools’ Debating Competition to compete for the title of ‘Best Individual Speaker’.
The motion for debate was ‘This house believes that Northern Ireland should see a return to direct rule.’ Competitors were set the task of preparing 6 minute arguments, both for and against the motion and upon arrival at Stormont, they would be told which side they would debate and with whom they would be teamed.
Blake was teamed with Thornhill student, Marianne Lappin, their other teammate having withdrawn a few days before the event was due to take place. Together they opposed the motion and faced the proposition which consisted of pupils representing St. Louis Grammar School, Ballymena; Belfast High School, Newtownabbey and Lurgan College.
The debate was tense throughout and thought-provoking arguments were put forwards from both sides. However, in the end, Blake’s outstanding ability as an orator shone through and he was the only competitor to successfully accept and contest every point of information thrown his way by the three members of the proposition.
His speech was highly commended by both the audience and judges alike, and was met with approval from special guests such as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords and MLA Anna Lo. All of the judges congratulated Blake on his emotive and passionately-delivered speech, with particular reference to the rhetoric flourish with which he ended his speech. Not to mention his pragmatic approach when responding to what can only be described as a plethora of points of information.
Much to the delight of all Foyle College representatives, he was rightly proclaimed as the winner of the Best Individual Speaker of the Northern Ireland Schools’ Debating Competition.