St Mary’s College student Clare Canham was declared the regional Lions Youth of the Year after a close tussle with Quirindi High student Ehsaas Gujral on Saturday evening.

Held in the function room at the Railway Hotel, the students were first interviewed by a panel of three judges in the afternoon, with general knowledge questions from local to international and their involvement in their school and wider communities.

Both students presented extremely well and were confident and knowledgeable across a broad spectrum of current affairs, before breaking until the evening session.

With family members and teachers in the audience for support, the students handled the first impromptu question with great insight when asked for their thoughts on the topic “Do you believe that the power of compassion, understanding and a sense of humour in today’s troubled world has any relevance”.

The second question “What are your thoughts on moves by the government to ban vaping because it is addictive and causing health problems in users” was answered with an in-depth knowledge and perception of this growing problem in society.

In the prepared speech section, Ehsaas presented a well detailed talk about the little known Prion Disease, delving into an in-depth study on the cause, symptoms and treatment for the currently incurable disease.

Clare addressed a completely different subject looking at the “Reality of Trends” and its affect on the community especially teenagers who like to have the very latest in whatever takes their fancy.

Lion Neville Steele received the Lions Chevron award for 30 years service from regional chairman Bob Percival.

The judges found it extremely difficult to choose a winner after such outstanding presentations and the individual scoring when added together resulted in just a few points difference.

Clare also won the public speaking section.

Clare will now contest the district final at Armidale on April 6 with the opportunity to be selected for state and national representation. After such an outstanding performance, Ehsaas Gujral was warmly encouraged to enter again next year.

During the evening, Lion Neville Steele received the Lions Chevron Award for 30 years’ service presented by regional chairman Bob Percival, a former Gunnedah resident who said that he still feels like he is “coming home” even after 45 years.

Youth of the Year chairman, Nev Adams, said the club is extremely fortunate to have had entrants of such a high calibre that it has been many years since a representative has not advanced to the district level, or continued even further.

“We have had winners at club, regional, district and state and even two national winners,” he said.

“The quest is a great project for Gunnedah Lions and I personally have a great passion for this annual event.”

To order photos from this page click here