A spoken English festival has returned to Shropshire with students from a number of schools across the county battling it out in a bid to have the last word.

The Viva Voce Spoken English Festival, which was held for the first-time last year, saw pupils from The Corbet School in Baschurch and Lakelands Academy in Ellesmere head to Ellesmere College, which hosted and took part in the competition.

Zoe Fisher, who will be taking over as Head of English at Ellesmere College from September, set up the competition alongside current Head of English Daniel Bottom.

She said: “We wanted to promote and celebrate the power of spoken language and we are delighted with how the event is developing.

“The level of competition this year was of the highest standard and in each category of poetry recital, dramatic reading and presentation of an issue, the judging panel was impressed by the depth of research and quality of speech demonstrated by the performers.

“Congratulations to all the winners and all participants, we are already looking forward to next year’s event, when we hope to expand the numbers who can attend the festival and encourage more schools to take part.”

This year’s judging panel consisted of Anne Wignall, former Mayor of Ellesmere and current President of Age UK Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, and her daughter Catherine Wignall, who is a screenwriter, as well as one student from each competing school.

Judges said their task had not been easy given but they gave each competitor feedback on their performance.

Nina Fisher, who is in year 10 Ellesmere College, won the poetry recitation competition.

She said: “The whole event was really good and even though I was nervous before the competition, I feel much more confident now about taking my English Speaking Board exams next week.

“I liked getting to know the students from the other schools and especially having the opportunity to judge!”

New for this year’s festival was the Trefanenko Cup, named after the College’s current Head Girl Oksana Trefanenko.

Oksana joined College in September 2022 as a Ukrainian Scholar and the cup was introduced as a way to recognise her courage, academic flair and warm personality – it is awarded to the student who demonstrates outstanding ability during the competition and this year’s winner was Francesca Widdon from The Corbet School.

In addition, for the first time this year two media students, Freddie Prust from Ellesmere College and Joe Holland from The Corbet School covered the competition and wrote a media release about it to be shared amongst the communities of the three schools.

Before the competition workshops were held for year 10 competitors from all schools, designed and led by Ellesmere College year 12 International Baccalaureate students, in order to give competitors access to resources to help with planning and preparation for the festival.

Any schools interested in participating next year should email Zoe on  zoe.fisher@ellesmere.com and for more information about Ellesmere College visit www.ellesmere.com.

Nina Fisher of Ellesmere College getting certificate at the Viva Voce Spoken English festival 2024.