28 February 2019
In front of a distinguished panel of judges which included the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, the actress Prunella Scales, the novelist PD James and the poet CH Sisson, the finalists in this prestigious competition recited memorised passages from Thomas Cranmer’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
Addressing the finalists at the prize-giving, HRH Prince of Wales said, “I believe the Prayer Book is a glorious part of every English speaker’s heritage.”
It’s a sentiment shared by the Moreton Hall school finalists Zoe Tse, Florence Tyne, Aghoghomena Akpoteni and Isabella Harpin.
Zoe enthused: “I felt so privileged to be able to be in the Thomas Cranmer National Finals and to attend Lambeth Palace.
“I recited ‘The Seventh Sunday after Trinity Collect’. To do this at the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury was an historic and moving moment.
“After lunch in the state dining room, we had the results with H.R.H the Prince of Wales presenting the prizes. It was such an honour to have the opportunity to meet him.
“This amazing event could not have taken place without the help of Merriel Halsall-Williams, Head of Spoken English at Moreton Hall, who has administered this competition so well over the past 15 years.”
Commenting on the opportunity to meet the prince, Florence added: “It was incredible to shake his hand, to discuss the competition and the benefits of teaching Shakespeare to students. I will never forget this inspiring day.”
Aghoghomena agreed that the event and the meeting had been momentous:
“It was an experience like no other. I remember apprehensively waiting for the day to arrive in which I would actually meet the Prince of Wales.
“Before I knew it, I was presenting my Collect and Gospel from memory to other competitors and people who attended the awards. Although I wasn’t a winner on the day, meeting Prince Charles felt like I had already won.”
Isabella had the final word: “I was really nervous to meet Prince Charles and perform the reading but he made it exciting and welcoming. Meeting him was such fun and a once in a lifetime experience!”