Teen an international speaker

Won oratorical contests here, Jamaica

A 15-year-old Caymanian student’s speaking skills helped win him an international competition held in Jamaica earlier this month. 

David Forbes, a student at Clifton Hunter High School, gave the winning speech at the Optimist International Oratorical District Conference in Kingston. 

David, who qualified for the competition by winning the Cayman version of the event, beat 12 other regional winners from across Jamaica and the Bahamas on 13 April. 

The Savannah teenager, who cites his pastor father as his biggest inspiration, admits he was nervous about public speaking before entering the contest. 

But he says his confidence grew as he prepared for the event. 

“My English teacher asked me to do it and I agreed because I like challenges. I thought it would be a good opportunity to stretch myself and to help build character and confidence. 

“I didn’t really speak too much. If I spoke it was always in a small group setting, I was not really fond of getting up in front of a big crowd. 

“I always like to thank God for His help. The confidence of my teachers and parents helped me to take the bull by the horns. 

“My dad is a pastor and I do like watching him preach. He is a big inspiration to me.” 

David won the Optimist Club of George Town’s Oratorical Contest in March of this year. Part of his prize was the chance to compete in Jamaica. 

After winning the finals at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Kingston he was awarded with a plaque and a US$2,500 scholarship towards his studies. 

Though he is interested in the church and public speaking, David’s current ambition is to train for a career in actuarial science. 

He was congratulated for his achievement by Optimist Club members at a ceremony at the National Gallery in George Town last week. 

During the event he gave an animated impromptu performance of his award-winning speech, without using notes. 

Mark Ray, president of the club, said: “This is the first time we have had success at this level. We always new our contestants were of high quality. Each year they get better and better. We are very excited and very proud of David.” 

Dunbar MacFarlane, who was instrumental in setting up the Cayman branch of the Optimist Club and is now leaving the Island, said: “I couldn’t ask for a better way to sign off than this. The future will be safe in the hands of persons like young David.” 

He said David was following in the footsteps of world figures like Martin Luther King and Tiger Woods, who were previous winners of Optimist competitions. 

David said Martin Luther King had been a big influence on him as he prepared for the competition. 

“He used his voice so many times to influence the world,” he said. 


David Forbes, 15, reprises his winning speech for members of the George Town Optimist’s Club. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER.

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