St Mary’s College student, Clare Canham, was crowned overall winner of the Lions Club of Gunnedah Youth of the Year Quest 2023 and will now represent Gunnedah at the regional level judging in February.

Clare’s prepared speech ‘Reality of Trends’ impressed the judges, while the runner-up was fellow student, Riley Roden, who prepared a thought-provoking speech on ‘Youth Crime in Australia’.

Another St Mary’s student, Sidney Dangerfield, took out the public speaking section, with his five-minute prepared speech ‘My Aspirations for being a Pilot and the Benefits of Aviation’.

Six students from Gunnedah High and six from St Mary’s College faced the judges in the preliminary judging in the function room at the Railway Hotel on November 20.

These students were interviewed for 70 per cent of the program and from these 12 students, six advanced to the final judging on the Wednesday night at the same venue.

Overall winner Clare Canham from St Mary’s pictured with judge Jo Tibbs.

The judges chose three from each school to compete in the public speaking section which was worth the final 30 per cent of points totalling 100 per cent.

These students were Paige Grew, Ysbelle Orozco, and Lawson McCormack from Gunnedah High, Clare Canham, Riley Roden and Sidney Dangerfield from St Mary’s College.

Page Grew spoke about the topical Gaza Conflict, while Lawson McCormack covered the topic Youth Crime, Ysbelle Orozco presented her thoughts on Cultural Identity and Immigration, and Riley Roden reflected on Youth Crime in Australia.

Gunnedah Lions Youth of the Year chairman, Nev Adams, said it was a very entertaining night for the final where a great three-course meal from the Railway Hotel was enjoyed by all.

“The judges on the night were Jo Tibbs, Stacey McCallum and Cathy Smith who was kind enough to jump in at the very last minute because of illness,” Mr Adams said.

“The judges are all very well-versed and highly respected citizens and were more than impressed with all 12 original candidates.

“It was a great entertaining night and the confidence and fortitude displayed by all contestants was amazing which makes our country’s future look bright.”

Winner of the public speaking section Sidney Dangerfield (St Mary’s).

Mr Adams said that to his knowledge Gunnedah has had two national winners, a runner-up and winners at each and every level of the competition, including region, district, state and national.

“As a matter of fact, last year’s national winner came from Coonabarabran,” he said.

The scoring is made up of: Initiatives taken at school (15), active involvement outside of school (20), school academic achievements (10), general knowledge (15), presentation during interview (10), totalling 70 points.

The speech section includes two impromptu questions lasting two minutes (10), a five-minute prepared speech (15) and presentation (5) totalling 30 points, with an overall score of 100 points.

“Lions Youth of the Year is one of my favourite Lions projects,” Mr Adams said.

“This is a great program that will strengthen a student’s ability to build confidence and take on challenges in life that could ultimately lead to success.

“The program is aimed at all young people between 15 and 19 years, generally from Years 10 to 12, most of our contestants seem to be from Year 11, however, contestants do not necessarily have to attend a high school.”

Lions Youth of the Year runner-up Riley Roden (St Mary’s) pictured with judge Jo Tibbs.

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