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Havelock North teen orator Gallipoli bound

Havelock North teen orator Gallipoli bound

By Amy Shanks
7:39 AM Monday Feb 16, 2015 Add a comment

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Woodford House Woodford House

A Woodford House student will stand where New Zealand soldiers fought and lost their lives on the shores of Gallipoli Peninsula 100 years ago.

It will be a poignant experience for Abigail May, 16, who won a trip to Turkey for this year’s Anzac commemorations after delivering a rousing speech on Saturday.

It’s extra special as she was the grand daughter of a WWII veteran and great grand daughter and niece of WWI veterans.

The teen went head-to-head with speakers from Iona College, Napier Boys’ High School, Rathkeale College, Taradale High School, Havelock North High School and Wairarapa College for the honour during an annual ANZ RSA Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition held at Napier RSA.

As regional winner she also earned $1000 for herself and $1000 for her school.

Members of Toastmasters judged the event in which pupils delivered a six to eight-minute speech on “New Zealanders in World War I”.

Abigail will compete at a national final in Wellington next month, but will go to Turkey regardless of where she places.

Through support from the New Zealand Defence Force, which will fly official guests to Turkey, all eight regional winners can attend – previously the opportunity was only extended to an overall winner.

“But because it is the 100th commemoration they have decided to take all the regional winners this time,” Napier RSA president John Purcell said.

Seven young people took part in the Hawke’s Bay area competition, which is a partnership between the RSA and ANZ New Zealand, aimed at promoting a deeper understanding and appreciation of sacrifices made by those who have served New Zealand in armed conflicts overseas. They will join 17 other young New Zealanders as part of the Gallipoli 2015 Youth Ambassadors NZ programme, an initiative kick started by Minister of Veterans’ Affairs, Craig Foss.

The competition is a tribute to Cyril Bassett VC (1892-1983) – the only New Zealander to be awarded the Victoria Cross at Gallipoli and who worked his entire career at the National Bank, now ANZ New Zealand.

– Hawkes Bay Today