When is “soon”? This question earned a teenager a runner-up place at a regional public speaking competition.

Tilly Nelson, a Year 10 pupil at Epping St John’s Church of England School, was among ten speakers at the Digital Final of the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge.

The regional final traditionally takes place in a school hall, with students from schools around west Essex competing against each other .

But owing to the coronavirus lockdown, Tilly delivered her speech via online video to a panel of judges, winning a certificate, a trophy and a gift certificate.

She said: “I have really enjoyed the Speak Out Challenge as it is a new experience to me which has allowed my voice to be heard. Listening to other people’s speeches was also very interesting and gave me something to think about.”

Dolleen Howlett, second in English at the Epping school, said: “Tilly worked on her speech at home, with me giving advice via email. Her speech discussed the importance of spending our time effectively; an apt choice in today’s climate.

“One of the judges - Chanise Evans, digital journalist and BBC Young Reporter - singled Tilly out and commended her on the originality of the topic.”

Watch Tilly’s speech at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__eSGkHRLAw