Jonathan Hazell wins the 20th Brian Riley Declamation Prize

by Rachel Smith

Jonathan Hazell (2012) has been awarded the 2014 Brian Riley Declamation Prize for his passionate delivery of a speech entitled ‘Break up the Euro now’.

The Brian Riley Declamation Prize is awarded annually to the student who gives the best speech on a European theme. The only instructions are that the subject should be topical and that the speech should last between 10 and 15 minutes.

This year the four finalists declaimed their essays on Tuesday 18th November in the Nihon Room. Among the gathered audience were the judges – the Master, Dr Mark Wormald (Senior Tutor) and Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe (Tutor for Graduate Studies) – who were assisted in their task by guests Hans-Dirk Riley, son of Brian Riley, and Dr Raj Persaud, a friend of the Riley family.

All speakersLéonie de Jonge (2014) started the evening with a speech about dwarf states, using Luxemburg as an example of a country that has managed to incorporate a mix of nationalities without losing a strong sense of national identity.

Jonathan Hazell argued that ‘Europe is being crucified on a cross of Euros’ and that the Eurozone, which is doomed to failure, must break up as soon as possible.

Joe Spencer (2012) was praised for displaying great ‘polemical panache’ with a declamation on the current tensions over Russia and the Ukraine in a speech titled ‘Ich bin ein Berliner: The West and Russia today’.

Finally, Audrey Lejeune (2013) spoke about couch surfing as a way of moving beyond a picture postcard view of Europe and getting to know its people in all their variety.

Throughout the declamations, the judges were looking for the candidate who was best able to engage the audience, both with their content and the style of their delivery. They were impressed by all four speeches, but eventually chose Jonathan Hazell as the winner. A copy of his script is available on the College blog.

Jonathan says: ‘It was an honour to win, ahead of so many great speeches, and a wonderful evening. I hope my speech did honour to Brian Riley’s legacy.’

The Riley Prize was created in memory of Brian Riley (1959) and is designed to encourage communication skills and reward excellence in both written and oral presentation. Brian read Modern and Medieval Languages and Oriental Studies at Pembroke, specialising in German, French and Chinese. He spoke fourteen languages and maintained an interest in foreign cultures throughout his life.


Left to right: Audrey Lejeune, Léonie de Jonge, Joe Spencer, Jonathan Hazell, Hans-Dirk Riley.