Speechmakers Impress in Dundee

Speechmakers Impress in Dundee

Winning Team from Crossroads YFC: (Andrew Taylor, Scott Anderson, Fiona Cuthbertson & David Smith)

Our National Senior Speechmaking, held on the Saturday morning of Competitions weekend is one of the most prestigious and competitive events in the SAYFC calendar. After qualifying through district and regional heats and completing months of preparation and practice, 9 teams from across the country travelled to Dundee to compete for the National title and a chance to travel to Canada to compete in the ‘Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture’ contest. This year the quality of competition was impressive, and our judges Andy Peddie, Sarah Millar and Rachel Anderson praised all the clubs for their dedication in taking the competition to such a high standard. The competitors had them and the audience alike hanging on their every point and well put position. In her closing crit, judge Sarah Millar (CEO of Quality Meat Scotland) praised the hard work of the gathered speechmakers:

“The months of practice have been really evident; I don’t think the standard has ever been as high as it was today. If this competition is known as the breeding ground for our future leaders, then the future is definitely in good hands.”

Best Speaker: Fiona Cuthbertson (Crossroads)

The format of the competition changes each year, to provide competitors with new challenges and vary their skills. This year was a “Mixed Panel” year. In this format teams enter as a panel consisting of a designated Chair and 3 Panel Members. On the day of competition, they are separated into different panels by ballot so that no 2 teammates are on the same panel. They are then given a limited amount of time for the chair to prepare introductions for their new panel members and set out debate questions for the panel from the provided list which the panel members do not get to see until they are on stage. The panel members then debate the chosen questions in front of the judges and audience with the chair acting as a mediator and guide throughout.

Best Chair (Outwith Winning Team): Jillian Kennedy (Aberfeldy & District JAC)

At the end of a morning full of respectful debate, laughter, and thought-provoking points of view the combined scores of each individual competitor were tallied and it was the team from Crossroads Young Farmers Club who claimed the winning trophy. With team member Fiona Cuthbertson picking up the certificate for Best Speaker on the day. She gave her thoughts on the what the win and the competition means to her:

“As far as SAYFC competitions go, for me speechmaking is up there with one of the best and definitely the most influential in my life today. As a shy 17-year-old I first took part in Junior Speechmaking and have now gone on to win the National Senior competition twice as well as winning Best Overall Speaker this year. These experiences have had a massive impact on my confidence, as well as aiding me in many ways through my time in university and into my career as a teacher today. I would encourage everyone to give speechmaking a go, it provides you with life skills and opportunities that no other competition can offer and possibly even a once in lifetime trip to Canada to compete there!”

Joint Best Panel Members (Outwith Winning Team): Anna McDiarmid (Aberfeldy JAC) and Lucy Fleming (Avondale YFC)

As Fiona mentioned, the top prize for speechmaking also includes a trip to Canada to compete in the ‘Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture’ Competition, kindly supported by the International Trust. But as all four members of the winning team have already had this privilege due to winning 2 years ago, they have agreed to let this amazing opportunity pass to the day’s runners up from Aberfeldy and District JAC. A well-deserved reward for a team who had the ‘Best Chair (outwith the winning team)’ in Jillian Kennedy and the joint ‘Best Panel Member (outwith the winning team)’ in Anna McDiarmid who tied with Lucy Fleming from third place Avondale YFC. Jillian spoke very highly about the competition:

“Speechmaking has been a fantastic learning opportunity. It has given me great lessons in developing and delivering speeches, and I’ve learnt to run with the style I feel comfortable with while speaking. Although it can be challenging standing up and speaking in front of anyone, I believe it has been a fantastic skill to learn alongside teammates, coaches, and fellow competitors.”

She went on to give her reaction to their unexpected Canadian adventure:

“The opportunity for the team to take part in the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture Competition is fantastic, and we are all looking forward to taking part and watching the competition, and seeing how our counterparts across the water are developing their speechmaking skills.”


2nd Place Team from Aberfeldy & District JAC: (Chloe Michie, Jillian Kennedy, Nick Hutchon & Anna McDiarmid)

3rd Place Team from Avondale YFC (Caroline Hamilton, Lucy Fleming, Ann Fleming & Annie Bryson)