19th Brian Riley Declamation Prize won by Peter Morrissey

by Sally March

MPhil student Peter Morrissey (2012) has won the 2013 Brian Riley Declaration Prize with his entry: ‘Catalonia, Flanders and Scotland. Is Europe in for a series of successful secessions?’

The prize is awarded to the student who gives the best speech, lasting between 10 and 15 minutes, on a topical subject with a European theme. A strong field was whittled down to four finalists, who declaimed their essays before five judges and a keen audience in the Nihon Room, on Monday 4 March.

Tom Powell (2010) in a speech entitled ‘Mali and Me’ and me critiqued the way that Europe incorrectly views Islam as an homogenous culture which is incompatible with its own values

Bella Plumptre (2010) spoke about how the recent horse meat crisis has highlighted how food producers, cosmetic manufacturers and the media misuses scientific terms in: ‘To beef or not to beef, that is equestrian: the use of science in the media.’

Jeremy Wikeley (2011) examined the often contradictory ways in which modern Turkey’s embraces and abuses its pre-Ottoman history: ‘The Hagia Sophia, Star Wars Lego and the Old Fisherman from Aphrodisias.’

Finally, Peter Morrissey argued that despite the rise in support for separatist movements in Catalonia, Flanders and Scotland there was still a long way to go before any of them were likely to succeed.

The judges with the difficult job of choosing the winner were the Master, Dr Mark Wormald (Senior Tutor), Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe (Tutor for Graduate Studies), Dr Nicola Riley, daughter of Brian Riley, and her guest Dr Christian Jessen, doctor and TV presenter.

This is the 19th time the prize has been awarded. It was established in memory of Brian Riley (1959), to encourage communication skills and reward excellence in both written and oral presentation. Mr Riley read Modern and Medieval Languages and Oriental Studies at Pembroke, specialising in German, French and Chinese. He maintained an interest in foreign languages (of which he spoke (fourteen!) and cultures throughout his life.

Photo: Peter Morrissey with Dr Nicola Riley. (S March)