Kilkeel High School pupils, who won first place in a UK-wide public speaking competition for young people following their emotive speech on organ donation and presumed consent, have been praised by the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) Chief Executive Dr Eddie Rooney, who is also Chair of the Northern Ireland Organ Donation Task Force Implementation Group.
The school’s public speaking team clinched the accolade at the national public speaking competition, organised each year by The Business and Professional Women’s (BPW UK) to help young people from across the country build up their confidence and develop the vital life skill of speaking in front of an audience.
The speech on the importance of organ donation and the need for more people to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register was expertly delivered by Darren Shields, part of the Kilkeel High School team which also included Zak Nicholls and Debbie Cousins.
Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive, PHA, said: “I would like to congratulate the team on their success at the Business and Professional Women’s Public Speaking Competition for Young People. I would like to thank their teacher Ms Ruth Taylor for recognising the importance of organ donation and encouraging the team to use it for their public speaking competition to get everyone thinking about organ donation and encouraging everyone to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register and save a life.
“The number of people in Northern Ireland signing the NHS Organ Donor Register is steadily increasing; however there are still not enough organs available. Darren’s speech was very moving; we know that a lot of people are in support of organ donation but have yet to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register, but hopefully after hearing his convincing argument more people will want to sign up.
“Together we can help others in need and save lives by joining the Organ Donor Register. Please take the time to do so by filling in a form online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk, texting save to 84118 or calling the NHS Donor line on 0300 123 23 23.”
Ruth Taylor, Head of English and coach of the public speaking team at Kilkeel High School, said: “Darren spoke on the topic of organ donation and he delivered his speech at the final so powerfully, he was told that if he had brought organ donation forms with him, half the audience would have signed up there and then.
“The judges praised his spontaneity, his engagement with the audience and his ability to weave in references to the other speakers. Although it was such a serious subject, he was able to lighten the tone with humour and sensitivity. When he ended his speech with the rhetorical question, ‘What are YOU waiting for?’ you could have heard a pin drop. Many people came up to him later to say they had been deeply moved and as a result of his speech a number of students have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register.”
Contact the Public Health Agency on 028 90553663
Notes to the editor
You can join the NHS Organ Donor Register by:
- Calling the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23
- Logging on to www.organdonation.nhs.uk
- Texting SAVE to 84118
You can also join when you are:
- Registering for a driving licence
- Applying for a Boots Advantage Card
- Registering at a GP surgery
- Registering for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)