A powerfully delivered call to arms to environmentalists won the regional final of a speaking competition.

On Thursday (May 10) evening pupils from 20 schools gathered at Epping St John's school for the West Essex regional final of Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge.

Armed only with their memories, oratory skills and powers of gesticulation, the teenagers delivered three minute speeches on a variety of topics.

At the end of the evening 15 year-old Burnt Mill Academy student Josh Tedeku scooped top prize of a £100 gift card, his heartfelt piece putting the briefness of human existence in perspective as he eulogised the work of Mark Ruffalo and tapped his heart in recognition of dwindling bee populations.

After collecting his prize from Eleanor Laing MP and new mayor of Epping Forest Cllr Nigel Avey, Mr Tedeku said: “I can’t believe. I was pretty nervous at first, now I feel great.

"The Jack Petchey Foundation is great as it helps so many people and I’m just lucky to be one of them."

He now has the chance to speak in the grand final of the competition at the Cambridge Theatre on Monday July 2, with a £5,000 first prize up for grabs.

While Mr Tedeku's performance shone the brightest in the eyes of the judges, brave performances and stylish delivery was evident across the board.

Second place went to Lewis Martin, who asked fellow St John's pupils how a man can remain faithful to a team for so long yet cheat on so many women in a piece titled 'Why football is more than the beautiful game.'

Florence New, from Roding Valley High School, came third with a verse titled 'I’m not blind' that fired back at those that discriminate against glasses wearers.

Although he did not place, Jerem Lenin claimed unofficial best joke of the evening award by adopting the baby's-eye view of a newborn photographed by his father.

"If you're the paparazzi," the baby asks, "Where is mamarazzi?"

The Speak Out Challenge is the world’s largest youth speaking event in the world, with more than 19,000 students in London and Essex taking part.

Cllr Avey said: “I certainly wish I had had this type of opportunity when I was at school as I think everybody, not just politicians or lawyers, should get the opportunity to develop these skills as it is enormously important in developing confidence and self esteem. "