Our first ever Sussex “Speak Out” Challenge Final!

By : Alessandra D'Addetta | June 30, 2022

Hivda Aydogan from Heathfield Community College wowed a packed audience at the Old Market Theatre in Brighton and was announced the winner of the Sussex “Speak Out” Challenge! 2021-22 with her speech on abortion rights.

This year’s Sussex Final Judging Panel comprised a mix of award-winning politicians, high-profile businesspeople and influencers, all known for using their voices to make a change: Cllr Alan Robins: Councillor, Brighton & Hove City Council, Alfie Douglas – Chair, Brighton & Hove Youth Council, Atiya Gourlay: Strategic Partnerships, Children’s Services, East Sussex County Council Lead, Trustee for Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust, Chair for Amina Khayyam Dance Company, Jacqueline Roach: Family Barrister, 1 Crown Office Row Chambers, Dr Lesleann Whiteman: Senior Lecturer, Brighton University, Tim Hancock: School Governor, Violet Hancock DL: Deputy Lieutenant for East Sussex.

Speaking directly to the audience, Hivda said: My heart breaks for the 16-year-old who has to drop out of her education who has to leave any hopes and dreams that she wanted to pursue behind.” Her powerful speech was met with roaring approval from the audience and judges.

She closed her speech with a compelling appeal; “Do not attempt to wage war on a woman, I can assure you, you will not win!”

You can watch Hivda’s winning speech in full here:

Deputy Lieutenant for East Sussex Violet Hancock DL who was on the judging panel said: “Every young person needs to be given a voice and Speakers Trust teaches them how to use it to greatest advantage.”

Hivda scooped up the top price of £50, as well as a trophy and framed certificate. When asked how she felt on becoming Champion, Hivda said: “It feels great. It’s such a confidence boost and I feel really great about myself, and I feel so happy that I got the opportunity to meet so many important people, so many people that understand the importance of speaking, and I just feel very lucky. I have definitely gained a lot more confidence, a lot more ambition to do more things to keep going from here!”

Runner-Up was Caitlin Humphreys, from The St Leonards Academy with her speech entitled “Female Representation in Film”, and third place was awarded to Jamie O’Connor-Janitsch from The St Leonards Academy for his thought-provoking speech “Your most valuable possession”.

Although the programme is in it’s third year now, due to the pandemic we have been unable to celebrate our young people in Sussex so far, which made last night particularly unique and memorable. 80% of Sussex students who took part in our training reported having increased their ability to “stand up and talk to a group of people”. At this point we want to thank all students, teachers, parents and in particular our generous partners Sussex Learning Network, Sussex Community Fund and our group of individual donors for supporting young people in Sussex!