Former King’s Houghton pupil wins top prize

'Eloquence is certainly essentiel in the field of law, but I think it opens so many doors beyond that,' says Alice
'Eloquence is certainly essentiel in the field of law, but I think it opens so many doors beyond that,' says Alice

A talented university student from Houghton Regis has been crowned the winner of the European Prize for Eloquence.

Former King’s Houghton pupil, Alice Shaw, 23, of Roslyn Way, entered the prestigious competition held at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, on March 7, debating topical political and social issues in an oratory contest.

The hardworking student, who is studying a double degree in English law and French law at the University of Leicester and currently in her second and final year in Strasbourg, now hopes to take a break after her exams to go travelling, before starting a training contract to become a lawyer with international firm Linklaters, London.

Alice said: “My performance was in French, and I chose to incorporate as much of the English humour as possible, whilst respecting the sensitive nature of the subjects which down well.

“It was really satisfying to even be able to play words-games in French to add a bit of life to my speeches, for example I used the metaphor of baking a cake in my first speech and then a boxing match in my second.

“I really did not expect to win! I certainly felt very proud, especially in the curent context - an English person promoting Europe in a different language had won the title.”

The prize involved 16 students from across Europe debating European topics.

The first stage involved preparing a five minute speech defending a certain position with regards to a certain subject - Alice’s was: “Europe has sacrificed our freedom for our security”.

Six finalists then had 24 hours to prepare a new topic, Alice’s being: “Europe has no defence”. The final took place in front of a judging panel made up of people who work at the Council of Europe, ambassadors, the Director of the Sciences Po Strasbourg, and an audience of 200.

Alice’s parents, to whom she “owes so much” are Gavin Shaw, 53 and Ruth Shaw, 51, of Roslyn Way.