There was triple cause for celebration at one Newcastle secondary school when two students won their age categories, and a third placed runner up, in a national public speaking contest. The trio from Sacred Heart Catholic High School, Fenham, showed off their oratory skills in the 2023 Catenian Province 5 Public Speaking Competition, which took place at English Martyrs Catholic School and Sixth Form in Hartlepool.

Open to Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and post-16 students, the annual event requires entrants to speak for three-and-a-half to four minutes on a subject of their choice, with points awarded for presentation, content and audience engagement.

Louisa Connolly, Deputy Headteacher at Sacred Heart, a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust, explained: “Each school is invited to enter one contestant in each of the three age categories, and all three of our girls were successful.

The Key Stage 3 winner was Sophie Ritson, a Year 9 student whose speech ‘The Monarchy – are they still relevant today?’ earned her the Bishop Ambrose Griffiths Trophy.

Fellow Sacred Heart student Davida Ngaujah, who is in Year 10, spoke on the subject of child marriage to win the Key Stage 4 category and receive the Thomas Clifford Trophy. She commented: “The competition was a great experience, and I was very proud to have shared something I had worked very hard on whilst representing the school.

Runner up in the Key Stage 5 Post-16 group was Denise Tepace, who added: “I felt very lucky to be representing Sacred Heart, and I want to thank everyone for the opportunity.” Her chosen topic was ‘The evolution of dreams and ambitions from childhood into adulthood’.

The two winners were each awarded £100, while the runner up received £50.

The judges sent congratulations to the “three magnificent contestants” stating: “All three gave impressive performances, and it was only by the very slimmest of margins that Sacred Heart did not achieve a clean sweep in all of the Secondary age categories.

Article created on behalf of Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust by Barking Dog Media. For more information email: or call 07754 271086.