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The North of England’s gas distributer, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has crowned the 2017 winners of its Outstanding Presenter and Young Outstanding Presenters of the Year competitions.

NGN distributes gas to 2.7 million homes and business across Yorkshire, Cumbria and the North East, to towns and cities including Leeds, Bradford, York, Huddersfield, Gateshead and Newcastle.
It’s the third time NGN has opened up its internal public speaking contest for colleagues to school students in Years 8, 9 and 12, working alongside social enterprise Ahead Partnership and registered charity Hull Children’s University.

The Young Outstanding Presenter of the Year competition is part of Ahead Partnership’s Make the Grade programme which has supported over 55,000 young people to date with real-life, hands-on experiences designed by local employers.

Winner of the NGN colleague competition was Emergency and Repair Team Leader Chris Taylor from Wear, whose topic ‘Safety Pays’ examined how to change attitudes towards safety by introducing a reward system to try and refocus behaviours.

NGN’s workplace contest offers colleagues across the business a chance to develop and test themselves outside the comfort zone of their regular role.

Chris, from Felling in Gateshead joined NGN in 2014 and won £100 of high street shopping vouchers as well as the trophy.

He said: “I was over the moon to win. I’ve met some amazing colleagues on the journey and am so pleased I took part.”

NGN’s schools competition was divided into Year 8, 9 and Year 12 categories.

Winner of the Year 9 competition was Hannah Gul-Khan from Roundhay School in Leeds, who impressed judges including NGN chief executive Mark Horsley with her presentation on safety law.

Year 9 winner Hannah Gul-Khan 2 pic 2

Winner of the Year 12 category was Amy Simpson from Guiseley School, for her presentation about women in engineering.

Year 12 winner Amy Simpson pic 1

Both students were crowned at the schools finals, which merged with NGN’s own employee finals on Thursday 30 March at the Mansion House in Roundhay, Leeds.

The schools competition aims to equip students with skills they can develop throughout their school career and into working life, for use during interviews or presentations. It also encourages young people to learn about jobs in an industry they perhaps would not have considered before and promotes the study of STEM subjects.

Year 8 and 9 pupils from Whitcliffe Mount School in Kirklees, Roundhay Park School and Carr Manor Community School in Leeds all took part, while Year 12 students from University Technical College Leeds, Guiseley School and the Cooperative Academy of Leeds also entered the competition.

NGN launched the schools contest in January, when each school selected one of 12 topics to speak about. Business mentors – an NGN employee with knowledge of the chosen topic – were then assigned to schools to coach students on their technique and help with research.

Topics included girls in engineering, carbon monoxide awareness, fuel poverty, innovation, energy futures, and utility companies and their impact on the environment. Students could deliver the presentations as they wished, using slides, props, or even NGN’s personal protective equipment.

Year Nine champion Hannah and Year 12 winner Amy were mentored by NGN’s Elizabeth Forbes and Donna Davies, receiving a prize of £100 for themselves and £100 for their schools.

Mark Horsley, Chief Executive of Northern Gas Networks said:  “Hannah and Amy both delivered excellent presentations and truly proved themselves worthy winners.

“It’s been wonderful to see the journey these young people have been on. They took a subject they had no previous knowledge of and put in an amazing amount of research and effort into making it come alive, through an interesting and well-structured presentation.

“I hope they are now able to use the skills they have developed through the competition in their future careers.”

Stephanie Burras CBE, Chief Executive at Ahead Partnership said: “The students have worked extremely hard on researching and presenting their topics, and the confidence and speaking skills they’ve developed throughout this competition will stand them in excellent stead for their futures.

“Northern Gas Networks are a fantastic example of employers that are proactively engaging young people to help raise awareness of careers in their industry and develop employability skills which is what Make the Grade is all about. We’re delighted to be working with them for another year on this exciting competition.”

NGN now hopes to build a video gallery of speakers and invite competition participants to future board meetings so they can share their messages with a wider audience.

Anyone that smells gas or suspects Carbon Monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.