Enfield pupil wins Jack Petchey public speaking prize with ‘positive message of personal growth’

Ethan Bousoula from Enfield Grammar School crowned winner after sharing his story of coming out and learning to value himself

Ethan collects his prize on stage at the Jack Petchey's Speak Out Challenge final
Ethan collects his prize on stage at the Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge final

An Enfield Grammar School pupil was crowned the winner of Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge 2023 after “capturing the hearts and minds of the audience”.

Ethan Bousoula’s speech, titled ‘It doesn’t get better’, outlined the homophobia he experienced when revealing his sexuality and the valuable lessons he learned about himself along the way to becoming a better person. 

Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge, the world’s largest public speaking competition for young people, is run in partnership with Speakers Trust. This year over 30,000 year ten students in London and Essex state schools took part.

The humorous imitations and positive message of personal growth that Ethan brought to his speech sent the audience and judges into rapturous applause. When discussing how when he first opened up about his sexuality he received hateful comments, he said: “I turned to the internet for advice and would always hear the same thing: ‘it gets better’.

“The truth is it never did get better. I got better… I couldn’t help ‘it’, but what I could help was myself and the way I chose to value myself.”

Ethan had previously won the regional final of the competition in February. At last week’s grand final the judging panel was an esteemed group including a member of the House of Lords, a CBE, a TV presenter, an actor, an Olympic athlete, a writer, and a previous Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge champion.

This story is published by Enfield Dispatch, Enfield's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

Ethan will receive £2,000 for himself and £3,000 for his school, Enfield Grammar School, to be spent on a project of his choice.

Before giving his speech, Ethan explained why he chose to speak out about this topic and said: “Because giving other people control of your own self-worth and happiness is the biggest mistake you could make.”

After being crowned champion, the teenager said:; “It feels right, honestly, I could visualise this moment happening. I’m so thankful to everyone who has given me the opportunity to speak out at the Cambridge Theatre!”

Head judge Baroness Doreen Lawrence said: “We all have something to give to the world and using your voice to relay that is extremely important.”

Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge is a programme managed and delivered by Speakers Trust, the UK’s leading public speaking organisation and is supported and funded by the Jack Petchey Foundation. Its aim is to encourage 14- and 15-year-olds to develop public speaking and communication skills as well as build self-esteem and confidence. 

Watch Ethan’s winning speech on YouTube:

We know times are hard

If you are struggling to make ends meet, we are keeping Enfield Dispatch free because of you. We know that many people cannot afford to pay for local news, so this website and our print paper will always be free. If you can afford to, and value what we do, a small monthly, yearly or one-off contribution can support us to keep providing quality journalism for Enfield to our community for free.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month. £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.  

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or yearly 

More Information about donations