Michael Akinyemi wins Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! Grand Final 2021-22

By : Alessandra D'Addetta | July 19, 2022

This academic year 27,000 young people across London and Essex took part in a Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! workshop, 450 young people represented their school at a Regional Final, 76 Regional Champions and Runner-Ups made it to the Semi-Final, and 15 students competed at the Grand Final. Finally, on Monday, July 18th Michael Akinyemi from St Benedict’s Catholic College wowed the packed audience and panel of celebrity judges and was crowned winner of the Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! 2021-22 – the largest youth speaking competition in the world!

This year’s Final Judging Panel comprised a mix of award-winning politicians, high-profile businesspeople and celebrities, all known for using their voices to make a change: Susan Acland-Hood: Permanent Secretary for the Department for Education, Candice Brown, British Bake Off winner 2016, Tim Campbell: Director and first winner of the Apprentice,, Tanya Cordrey: VP of Product at Instagram, Francis Dearnley: Assistant Comment Editor at the Telegraph, Montell Douglas: Athlete, coach and public speaker – Women and Girls Champion, Kaylee Golding: Radio Presenter & DJ, Mayumi Staunton, Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge winner 2020-21.

Speaking directly to the audience, Michael said: “We all have an inheritance, not the type that you can write down in a will or discuss with a lawyer. It’s woven into our DNA, shaping the way that we live. What makes us, who we are. All of us have stories to tell. Written not in words, but in our heritage.” His powerful speech was met with roaring approval from the audience and judges.

He closed her speech with a compelling appeal; “Whether you can pronounce it or not, my name is Michael Akinyemi. Valiant, unwavering, resolute. And I am a Fighter.”

Watch Michael’s speech here:

Runner-Up was Izzy Hilton, Westcliff High School for Girls with her speech entitled “A Pain in the Neck”. Watch Izzy’s full speech here:

Grace McCarthy, St Gregory’s Catholic Science College came third with her speech “Do I need a longer skirt?”.

Fourth place went to Maya Redley, Leytonstone School with a speech entitled “Rapunzel, Race and Representation”. You can watch Maya’s speech here:

You can see all 15 grand finalist speeches here!