SCHOOL children from across Thurrock took part in a huge public speaking challenge on Canvey.

The event, put on by the Speaker’s Trust and funded by the Jack Petchey Foundation, saw 750 Year 10 pupils from across Castle Point and Thurrock given professional lessons in public speaking and communication.

From these, 15 were chosen and went on to perform their speeches at the Dinant Avenue school in the Jack Petchy Speak Out challenge.

Daniel Beaumont, 14, from the Gateway Academy, in Tilbury, scooped top prize and was given an iPod touch and the chance to go through to the grand final of the Speak Out Challenge which is taking place on July 2.

Daniel, whose winning speech was called Techno, said: “I was absolutely shocked. I couldn’t believe I had won because there were so many good speakers.

“If I could give advice to others wishing to do this, I would say be yourself and confidence will come naturally.”

Sade Shittu, 14, from William Edwards School, in Grays, came second with her speech Portrayal of Youth and third place went to Charlie Head, 15, a pupil at Gable Hall School in Corringham, with his speech Please Get Your Passport Ready.

Cornelius Vermuyden School, which has just been newly rebuilt, offered to host the huge event this year.

Peter Burch, mayor of Castle Point, presented the awards and said: “I felt all speakers put on a great performance.

“It was such a pity they all couldn’t win, but it looks like many of them will go on to greater things following this challenge.”

The Speak Out Challenge is the biggest public speaking event of its kind in the world and is now in its seventh year, with more than 20,000 Year 10 students taking part.