WINNER: Hannah Jensen was the winner of the Youth of the Year zone final. Judge Kerry Meier and Mayor Andrew Willcox present Hannah with her award.
WINNER: Hannah Jensen was the winner of the Youth of the Year zone final. Judge Kerry Meier and Mayor Andrew Willcox present Hannah with her award.

Students perform under pressure

The Lions Youth of the Year is a prestigious program that has been running for 55 years.

The program is open to students aged between 16 and 18 years old and boasts many high-profile Australians among the ranks of past entrants including former Premiers and Prime Ministers.

Through the program, students have an unequalled opportunity to experience an interview situation – in a friendly atmosphere – and a chance to practise their public speaking skills.

The program looks at school and community involvements including cultural, sporting and academic achievements.

The winners of the individual club finals in the zone - which includes the Whitsundays, Proserpine, Bowen, Collinsville and Home Hill clubs - go on to the zone final, which this year was held in Collinsville, on Sunday, March 15.

The club finals are hosted by individual Lions Clubs, who all work with their local schools.

The Lions Club of Whitsunday works with the Whitsunday Christian College and at the club’s Youth of the Year final, four students from Whitsunday Christian College competed - Poppy Flood and Ashlee Turner, both 17, and Thomas Boyd and Eran Kirkpatrick, both 16.

Thomas Boyd won both the public speaking contest and the club Youth of the Year final.

“Despite the inclement weather on the night, we had about 40 people present including students, teachers and family members from the college and Whitsunday Lions Club members,” president Helen Toy said.

“All students faced the challenging experience of two, two-minute impromptu speeches, plus they then delivered their five-minute prepared speech. All the students performed well and were well received by those present.”

The finalists in the Proserpine club final were Theo Brown, Bronte Templeton and Crystal Glisson, from Proserpine State High School, and Charlotte Orenshaw, Caitrin Kelly and Bella Pini from St Catherine’s Catholic College.

Meanwhile, six Bowen State High School students competed In the Bowen club final, with Georgie Price, Hayley Smith, Brooke Horstman, Hannah Jensen, Khoi Tran Dang and Gregory Reinke all taking to the podium.

Hannah Jensen was the overall winner and Khoi Tran Dang won best public speaking.

The three finalists in the Collinsville club final were Claudia Lee, Jack Groocock and Tallyn Broderick.

Jack Groocock was the overall winner but didn’t compete at the zone final due to academic and sporting commitments.

At the zone final, in Collinsville, on March 15, Proserpine’s Bella Pini took home the award for public speaking with her speech, entitled Climate Change Refugees.

The overall winner was Bowen’s Hannah Jensen, who was destined to go to the district final, in Townsville, on April 4, before restrictions were imposed.

Normally, after zone level, the winner goes on to compete at district, state and, finally, national level but due to the coronavirus, Lions have been advised that Youth of the Year will not proceed for the remainder of this year.

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