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History - Youth Service

Youth Speaks logo

The 2019 Youth Speaks District heat competition, sponsored by Rochdale Rotary Club, was held at Falinge Park HS on Thursday 24th Jan.2019. Rotary Youth Speaks, helps young people do public speaking and practice this art so they can continue it in later life. It promotes self-confidence and use of spoken English and tests young people’s ability to control their nerves and talk clearly in front of an audience. Imagination and team work is needed to think of and research an interesting subject and deliver a knowledgeable speech about the topic. Some tongue in cheek or humorous views are often thrown into the mix.


8 high school teams of 3 competed and the audience of over 60 was treated to speeches 6 minutes long on a wide range of topics, with responses from a fellow student chairman and a proposer of a vote of thanks. Falinge Park HS’s Head teacher Janice Allen welcomed all and said she had, as a teenager, been in a similar competition. She spoke of how an ability to talk in public is useful in later life and helps to build confidence. Public speaking is now part of the curriculum at Falinge school.

Beech house school’s Charlotte Wilkinson (‘Life on the Streets’) talked of the plight of the homeless sleeping rough. Society should be more compassionate and not reject them. Finland has dramatically reduced the problem by rehousing people straightaway and by giving intensive advice and support.  

Bolton Girl School’s Maryam Ali (‘Is Beauty skin deep?’) spoke of how the appearance is an obsession in modern life . She made the plea that we should look more to the whole person and not just judge by looks. Social media and editable facial photographs have made the problem worse.

Bury Grammar Boys school’s Sam Carroll (‘are Apple’s prices realistic?’) gave his thoughts on the runaway success of Apple in the phone market. He made comparisons with other company’s products and discussed how Apple’s company image and past performance ensured success.

Falinge Park’s Emilia Gartside (a dog’s purpose) talked about the cruelty inflicted on animals for humans’ entertainment, giving examples from the recent film “a dogs purpose” showing a dog swimming in freezing water and the inhuman treatment in the Thailand Tiger temple and pleaded for more kindness.

Ladybridge HS’s Marc Thompson described ‘the Under-preparation of Future Generations’. By not being given more responsibility at a young age, youth will be found wanting in later life and career.

Oldham Hulme GS’s  Jessica  Sheridan ‘We are family: Brothers and Sisters’ discussed how there can be friendships or differences within families but people work out ways of living together. A similar understanding of people not within the family would be a good thing for society.

Falinge Park  senior team’s Iman Kazmi ‘The Search for the Silver Platter’ wanted celebrity pop singers and others to avoid saying unpleasant things on social media. They should not encourage young people to talk and behave badly like themselves implying that is the way to make one’s fortune.

Ladybridge HS’s senior team’s Amaan Patel ‘we are more than Pink or Blue’ discussed that blue for boys and pink for girls should be an outdated concept saying this is a very narrow stereotypic message. A healthier attitude is to allow everyone to be themselves.

Each speaker was asked a question from a nominated questioner, testing their understanding of their subject/topic.

The adjudicators John Wroe, Michael Knowles and Patricia Russell commented on the great variety and quality of the speeches and also gave feedback to teams afterwards. The Intermediate under 14years winner was Bolton Girls School  and Senior 14-18 years winners  were Falinge Park HS. Rochdale’s Mayor Councillor Mohammed Zaman presented certificates to all the students and said he had greatly enjoyed the event. Rotarian Warren Heyes from the Rotary district 1285 said ‘The skills and confidence shown at such a young age were simply amazing.’

Youth Speaks 2018.

Rochdale Rotary Club has sponsored the Falinge Park teams over many years  but this is only the second time the school has hosted the event. Rotarian Ravi Sharma and Falinge teacher Richard Rhodes planned the evening and were helped by pupils, staff and friends from the school and members of the Rotary club and Rochdale Inner wheel. A welcome from deputy head Susan Wood and Rotary president Ann Stott was followed by Rotary District 1285 Governor-elect Anthony Graves asking the students to relax and enjoy it!

6 teams of three took part, each with a chairperson to introduce the speaker and a vote of thanks was given by the 3rd team member. A team of judges from Rostrum (a club which has public speaking as it’s theme) gave a final decision on winners for  age groups 11-13 (intermediate) and 14-17 (seniors). Marks were lost if team members overran a lot or took too little time. Timekeepers showed a green light going to red if team members overran their time ;1 mark lost for every 15 seconds in the red. Each speaker was asked a probing question by a questioner after their speech and extra marks gained for a good answer.

Falinge Park HS team A, Iman Kazmi, Farah Khan and Shannon Hitchings, were intermediate heat winners with their topic GOLDEN NUGGETS   Farah Khan talked of the injustices in our society and the plight of many forgotten and neglected frail elderly people. She suggested visiting them regularly keep them company and ask them for guidance. Do not treat them as an inconvenience - they are people too!  

Bury Grammar school team B Sophie Parker, Hashim Tahir, Amaan Sadiq were senior heat winners with ONLY A GAME

After negative media publicity Hashim worried he may have an addiction to videogames as he sometimes prioritises it over other work after a busy school week. Also could the violent nature of some games   have a bad effect on him and lead to violent behaviour? He presented it as a leisure activity not like   smoking, drug taking, drinking or gambling which cause harm to physical, mental and financial health.

Bury team A was Maryam Khan, Emily Wilson and Isobel Lewis.   Emily talked of  SEXUAL HARASSMENT describing the shocking attitudes and inappropriate behaviour towards women by certain men in position of power particularly in the entertainment industry. Harassment should be better defined and bosses should always be respectful to their employees. Time limits for appeals to employment tribunals should be more than 3 months More legislation is needed to protect women.

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS ON THE ARTS by Oldham Hulme Grammar team Jessica Sheridan, Isabella Brierley-Bernasconi, Evvie Wagster-Konstantinidou . Isabella described the obsession by people with what others have said is beautiful in art eg the Mona Lisa (speaker liken it to a Mona Weasel!). Beautiful art works are waiting for people to discover them ;it’s better to explore your own path! Don’t rely on art critics to guide you; find your own favourites and don’t be put off even if less celebrated or even hated by others.


ALCATRAZ   Falinge team B Emilia Gartside, Sadia Begum and Evan Binil compared the school system to Alcatraz prison. Sadia asked that young people should help to govern schools and have more say in the subjects they wish to do and which school trips they want to go on. Their self-esteem would increase and they would be able to be the architect of their own future. Many young people have the confidence, responsibility and ability to do this but (like adults) should not be expected to get it right every time.

SHOULD WE KEEP ANIMALS IN ZOOS Beech House school Sophie Wilkinson, Holly Gaucas and Isabella Chapman. Holly emphasised the need for more natural environments and space. How would we as humans feel if we were being watched every day and locked up in a human zoo? If animals are endangered, proper sanctuaries with natural environments may be the answer and some, such as elephants, which need to walk freely could be released into them.

All teams performed brilliantly and had certificates for taking part, best teams as above. Best Chairperson Iman Kazmi and Sophie Parker(int), Speakers Farah Khan & Emily Wilson, Proposers of Vote of Thanks Isobel Lewis and Isabella Chapman. Deputy Mayor of Rochdale Councillor Mohammed Zaman spoke of his great enjoyment in seeing such talent on display.

Youth Speaks 2015

On 12 February our club had a visit from this year's Youth Speaks team.  This was a near real time flavour of the competition heats which are on the way. 

The title of the speech was" I'm worried ". This year the Falinge Park Team take a look at the sense of "Normality". The entire speech has been written by Ethan Marriot, Member of Youth Parliament for Rochdale. It takes a look in to the minds of teenagers and their struggle in life on the decision of conformity or to express themselves in their own manner and the perils that can bring. Ethan has participated in YS competition last year and got the Best Speaker award at District level. He has put a team together with Tahir Ali and Tabitha Rusden.  The students have spent several weeks writing, preparing and practising both during and after school and hope to progress in the latter stages of the competition. As a school  Falinge Park High have been extremely proud of their dedication and commitment during this time. The team also received a balanced feedback from the fellow Rotarians.

Youth Speaks 2013

Wardle High & Falinge Park both have entered the Youth Speaks Competiton this year. At the District heats, both schools took part. Falinge were elected to go forward to the District Finals at Frodsham, which took place on Sunday the 3rd of March.

Falinge came second in the Intermediate section, and will now go forward to the Regional Finals in Preston on Saturday the 23rd of March. The team also received awards for the Best Speaker and the Best Vote of Thanks. The team consisted of Kavee Ferdous, Chairperson, Ethan Marriot, Speaker and Maria Ferdous, Vote of Thanks.

The next round of Youth Speaks was the next weekend, Sunday the 24th. President David went over to Preston to encourage Falinge in their attempt to progress to the national finals. However it was not to be. Again, the very high standard of competition was too much. But I'm sure that they'll be back next year to try again!


Thursday, 31st of January

President David accompanied by Ravi Sharma & PP John Cannell, went to Bedford High School at Leigh to support Wardle High School and Falinge Park High School in the Youth Speaks District heats. Falinge succeeded in going through to the next round at Frodsham in March. Wardle, also with a new team, were not so fortunate, but promised to return next year and try again with better preparation.

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Rota Kids logo graphic

Our club has recently formed a Rotakids club which is based at St James' Primary School in Wardle on the Pennines side of Rochdale. Through a link with our Vocational Chairman Allister Holt various visits were made by members to the school and a Club presentation resulted from Head Teacher Catherine Aden .The school has for some time been increasing pupil participation in school affairs and on various school management committees. An example of this was in the pupils having the final say when it came to the upgrade of the playground. The Rotakids certificate was presented to the school recently by President David Smithard and joint activities are planned.

A particular mutual interest is in the Environment and a project for 'Climate week' in March 2013 is being planned Fairtrade Coffee Morning at St James School Wardle 28th Feb 2014. The pupils at St James are raising money to buy school uniforms for children aged 12 to 14 at a school in Namibia. They have found out that attendance at school there drops off after the age of 12. School uniforms are handed from child to child, year after year, but because there is no one aged 12 or over to hand down a uniform, and they can’t afford to buy one, the children just can’t go to school. St James’s pupils thought this was one problem which could be solved quite simply - provide uniforms and enable the Namibian children to continue their education. They have a Rotary grant of £250 which they must match, and they decided to hold a coffee morning as a start towards their goal.

It was held on Friday 28th February in the school hall, during Fairtrade Fortnight. Living so close to the school I was able to attend their assembly before the coffee morning proper started. Their speaker was Jan Hicks from Fairtrade Rochdale who spoke wonderfully well, and really engaged the children. She was full of interesting information and they all listened attentively. I certainly learned a thing or two. The assembly was also attended by many parents, Friday morning assembly is open to anyone who is interested, and on this occasion we were graced by the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress of Rochdale.

After the assembly the children filed quietly back to their classrooms and the room was set up with tables and chairs. Some of the older children stayed behind to help and to serve coffee and cakes. All the tables were filled with parents and Rotary members who came to support the event, and was much noisier than at any time the children were there! The coffee and cakes were extremely good and the children very polite and helpful, we all enjoyed the pleasant low key atmosphere of genial interaction. A great many cakes and buns had been made by the pupils and school cooks for sale to the pupils during breaks and lunch times, also to raise money for uniforms. Fortunately I had pre-warned our President of this fact so he was able to bring a container to carry his supplies away from the school.

The event was a huge success with many more people attending than last year. Their efforts raised about £270.00 which exceeded their expectations and is enough to match the Rotary grant. Catherine asked me to thank all the members who supported the coffee morning and a big thank you to those who sent donations because they couldn’t be there.

This is a school we can be proud to call our Rotakids School.

KidsOut-Logo graphic

Kids Out – Gulliver’s World – 12th June, 2013

We all met at Redwood, Commander David, the kids, the staff, 9 Rotarians (4 from Rochdale East) and 1 Friend. Mobile numbers were exchanged – a difficult exercise for some Rotarians who have difficulty remembering complicated things. We arrived at Gulliver’s World glancing with some trepidation at the overcast sky. Things started badly. The first ride we tried was in very shallow boats which were unceremoniously dumped into a narrow channel. Much water was shipped and the occupants, still very damp, rode on with their feet submerged. The excitement level was intense as we proceeded at a break neck 0.5 mph. What a disappointing start! Wet through and bored! But things rapidly began to improve. As we further explored the Park, we discovered many more rides; some were quite sedate, which suited quite a few of the children and most of the Rotarians; others, like the roller coaster, were somewhat more adventurous. Some children insisted on going on them all and a few select Rotarians reluctantly accompanied them! At least one Rotarian managed to snatch a short nap, no doubt worn out by command responsibilities and probably dreaming of grow bags! At lunch time, we were royally fed with refreshments provided by Countryside Caterers, a.k.a. David and Sheila Acton. The weather looked kindly on us and remained fine all day and we returned to Redwood late afternoon, tired, happy and, some of us, still wet! Feedback from Redwood was very appreciative; everyone had a great time.

Redwood School


Rochdale Rotary club have had a long association with the Innes School and since the reorganisation of Special Needs teaching to Redwood school on the Oulder Hill site we have continued to keep in touch. We have supported them in their educational programmes particularly the workshop activities producing high quality jewellery and banners to mention just a few aspects.2 events recently were the much improved student awards for year 10 and a fun day out at Camelot theme park. Our liaison Rotarian is Past President (twice!) Dean Sherriff Photographs showed the well deserved recipients of the awards for 2009 and 2010. Rotarians accompanying the children to Camelot were able to remember their own childhood again.

On 7th April 2015 Headmaster Stuart Pidgeon, Dave Butterworth Youth Development Coordinator and Garry Smith Physical Education and Healthy lifestyles Coordinator came to show the Rotary club the wide range of activities now available at Redwood. This includes a Youth club enjoying all sorts of activities including traditional art activities, enjoying music of various kinds, keeping fit and more unusual sports for young people such as golf .Also a holiday club has been formed providing an opportunity for young people with special needs to take part in a week of fun. Sponsors of the Youth club have included local entrepreneurs and businesses and anyone wishing to find out more should contact Stuart at the school.

Most Improved Student Award


Falinge Park School Award July 2013.


IPP David and Ravi attended the school to present the Most Improved Student Award. the winner this year was Jamiliah O'reilly. Her name is on the shield. She also received a cheque for £25 and a replica shield to keep. They also saw the Growbags that the school is experimenting with.

Tuesday 8th of May 2012. Falinge High School.

Falinge High School Rotary liaison officer Ravi Sharma, accompanied by Rotary President elect Dr. David Smithard and Immediate Past President John Cannell, today attended their afternoon assembly to present this year's 'Most Improved Student' award.

The award this year went to Crystal Campbell, for her greatly improved maths. As is often the case, you don't know what you can do until you really try, which Crystal did, and overcame her difficulties. Crystal is the 10th student to win this award which is presented to just one student each year, so it is a significant achievement.

Wardle High School Presentation Evening, Thursday 22nd of November.

I accompanied President David to Rochdale Townhall to present the Most Improved Student Award this evening. We were taken to the Great Hall, where one of the school bands was playing. We later found out that this was their first public performance. As expected, they were very good, and will, I'm sure, be contest winners in the future.

Headmaster Dr. Graham Wright told us in his introduction that the school had enjoyed its best ever GCSEs performance, beating or being very close to other schools in the borough. Good news indeed.

The Most Improved Student this year was Louise Johnson, who exeeded all expectations in her GCSE results. She intends to go into the 6th form and on to university to study nursing.

The event concluded by 20:15, allowing us to spend some time talking to the headmaster and other staff members. There is a positive interest in taking part in several of the Rotary sponsored competitions, and I will keep in touch with the school to ensure that things go according to plan.

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