A speech about the importance of communities to welcome, inspire and support their members helped The Armidale School Year 11 student Will Forsyth to the next level of the Lions Youth of the Year Quest, having taken out the local competition last week.
Will, 16, whose home is a farming property at Croppa Creek “65km north west of Moree and 30km south of Woop Woop”, said poet John Donne’s quote “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” was as relevant now in an often disconnected world, as it had ever been.
He reflected on the importance of community, whether that be a village, sporting team, theatre cast, boarding house, or school, in ensuring mental health and happiness.
His experience as an exchange student at a Canadian school where he met a girl whose house had been destroyed by civil war in the Ukraine, opened his eyes to the dire situation of those who can’t find their community, whether they be children in detention centres, or homeless on the streets.
Meanwhile Henry O’Neil, also a Year 11 student from TAS, challenged the thinking of the audience on how ‘success’ is measured, comparing ‘resume virtues’ with ‘eulogy virtues’.
Henry urged us to be people of ‘value’ rather than ‘success’. Their prepared speeches, and two impromptu ones, were delivered to club members at a dinner at Armidale Bowling Club on November 7.
The two entrants had the previous weekend been interviewed by judges on their academic record, community service and citizenship, general knowledge and extra-curricular activities.
In a close decision, Will was named both the public speaking winner and overall winner, and will represent Armidale Dumaresq Lions Club at the Youth of the Year regional final in Guyra early next year.
The Lions Youth of the Year Quest has been going for more than 50 years and aims to develop leadership skills of young people.