Flora Shaw competes in final of The Churchill Cup

On 4 October, Flora Shaw competed in The English Speaking Union’s National Final of the Public Speaking Competition, renamed The Churchill Cup. The final took place in the nostalgic and historically exciting Churchill War Rooms – the underground operations centre in the Second World War. This was really a display of public speaking rather than a competition, since Flora Shaw and the other competitors had already won best speaker award in the three rounds it took to reach the final. Here she was representing South East England. The speakers all spoke on the topic (a Churchill quotation) “Mankind has increased his power over everything except himself” and most speakers agreed broadly with Churchill that despite astonishing scientific/technical advance, man was still capable of extraordinary cruelty. Flora however argued that there was hope, and that self-knowledge was the key to the future.

All the nine speakers spoke very well and frankly most of them could have won. In the end, the one winner was a surprise to this author who felt that the winner was the only one who might not have got through, but it must have been a very hard decision. We were generously entertained by The English Speaking Union, enjoying a delicious buffet lunch, tea, coffee and cakes, and Flora returned with an engraved glass trophy. It was a significant achievement to reach this National Final and for Flora to experience exceptional competition that was on display. It should set her up well as she moves from Public Speaking into Debating Competitions this season.

By Jonathan Selby, Head of History and Teacher of Government & Politics


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

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