The main reason for the lunch was to hear from Aymon de Boissieu, a young teenage student from the Lycée Saint Martin in Angers. In May 2015, at the grand old age of 16, Aymon travelled to London to represent the members of ESU Loire Valley, the department of Maine et Loire, and the whole of France, in London at the Finals of the ESU’s International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC). Aymon wanted to share with us his experience of the competition and what it has since meant to him. He was accompanied by his English teacher, Françoise Placé, who was assisted in preparing her students by our own John Barritt. This is the third time that St. Martin has produced a winner – and we have only participated for 4 years! The title of Aymon’s speech in London was “Let’s Defend our Identities”. It is based on the theme “Culture is Not a Luxury but a Necessity” set by the ESU HQ at Dartmouth House in Mayfair, where the finals took place. Irene and I, along with all the audience, were certainly enthralled listening to this young man as he presented the speech he gave in the competition to us. He spoke for a full 5 minutes from memory, without notes, delivering it with passion, authority and confidence, except for one small stumble when he lost his thread before quickly recovering his composure and confidence. It was amazing that such a young teenager speaking in a 2nd language, learnt at school part time, could deliver such a thought provoking speech with clarity, conviction, understanding and also in near perfect English with just a tinge of a French accent. Afterwards Aymon answered questions from the audience about what he called his “life changing experience” that gave him 50 new friends from all the corners of our planet and 100s of Emails a week. Pat Curd who escorted him to the event said we could not have had a better ambassador to represent us. Aymon was always polite, thoughtful and ever the Frenchman, he was soon greeting the other contestants with handshakes or kisses in a pleasant and outgoing manner. In the final photograph, ever the chivalrous Frenchman, he lifted a pretty young girl onto his shoulders so she could be included.