THE beauty of the rainforest, the best things in life and the art of procrastination were just some of the fascinating topics tackled by Halton’s articulate young people.

Pupils from the borough’s seven secondary schools demonstrated superb presentation skills at the eighth annual public speaking competition held for the first time at Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy in Runcorn.

They spoke with confidence and conviction in front of judges, parents and teachers.

Wade Deacon pupil Raphael Ardani, aged 12, won the under 13s category with an emotive talk on music.

He plays the violin and the oboe.

Teacher Rebecca Griffiths said: “We are very proud of Raphael. He is extremely passionate about music and this came over very clearly. He spoke eloquently and with natural flair and style.”

Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy pupil Sarah Taylor, aged 14, won the 14 and over age group category with a motivating speech about goals.

Teacher Claire O’Keefe said: “Sarah put in lots of time and effort into her speech to make sure she perfected it.

“She is a hard working and dedicated pupil and her win is even more impressive considering she is only in year nine.

“We are extremely proud of her.”

Margarette Leahy, of North Cheshire Speakers Club, which provided the judges, said: “We were all very impressed.

“All the speeches were excellent. Everyone sounded confident. There was no sign of nerves.

“They all spoke slowly and clearly and knew their subjects well. They used notes but made lots of eye contact which is very important.

“Their language was very well chosen.”

The Mayor of Halton, Clr Margaret Ratcliffe, who presented the prizes, said: “It is not an easy thing to speak in front of people.

“You all did extremely well and should be proud of yourselves.”

Runner up in the under 13s was Chloe Owen from Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy who spoke about her greatest fear.

Runner-up in the over 14s was Heath pupil Megan Holland. Her talk was entitled 'Pop Idol or Not Idol?'.

The other finalists included Joseph Bird 'The Best Things In Life', Libby-Jane Dimelow 'A Teen's Life', Conrad Hammond 'The Rainforest', Lily Mayers 'The Work Balance Of A 12-year-old', Lisa Bazley 'The Starting Block', Cerys Hodson 'Image', Sam Jones 'Opinionated', and Millie Tobin 'The Internet - A Way Of Controlling Society?'