A TALENTED pupil from Thurrock pipped the top prize in a prestigious, regional public speaking competition.

Albie Williams, 15, came first in the Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge - the biggest public speaking event of its kind - impressing with his speech “Dad’s Dad”.

The youngster fought off competition from 16 other students, aged between 14 and 15, at the event held at the Gateway Academy.

More than 700 pupils from 15 schools across Thurrock and Castle Point took part in the contest having had just one day of public speaking and effective communication training.

Second place went to JJ Fadaka, 15, from Castle View School with her speech “Be Yourself ” and third place went to Amy Beaumont, 15 from The Gateway Academy with her speech titled "2nd Born."

But it was Albie who came out on top after impressing a panel of judges which included firefighter John Lloyd, Sue Bradish, the Mayoress of Thurrock and Public Health Manager at Thurrock Council and Thurrock Gazette editor Gary Pearson.

Albie said: “This was absolutely crazy and I enjoyed it all. I can’t believe I won! A piece of advice for others: ‘Never give up, just go for it.”

Tony Fish, the Mayor of Thurrock, said: “I’ve attended several Jack Petchey events and they are always inspirational. It is encouraging to see the confidence the young people have gained. It was a pleasure to be here.”

Albie won a £100 Gift Certificate for coming first and a chance to go through to the Grand Final of the “Speak Out” Challenge! due to take place on July 14, 2014 at West End’s Piccadilly Theatre