The final competition was even more daunting than the video as the fifteen finalists had to speak for five minutes without notes in front of a panel of six judges, which included Head judge, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, the former British Ambassador to China, Sir William Ehrman, and the Head of Marketing of the Royal Zoological Society Scotland, Sharon Simpson. Alex and Charlie, the youngest competitors, won everyone over with their lively and amusing performance. (In fact they seemed untroubled by the occasion and said that it was much less scary than performing in front of their classmates in rehearsal!).
While the judges deliberated, we were treated to a demonstration of how to paint pandas by a celebrated Chinese artist.
As the Chinese Ambassador, Liu Xiaoming, said, the thing to remember about the day was the importance of friendship and coming together and not so much the competition. However, waiting for the results, the sense of anticipation was tangible. Third prizes for seven contestants were awarded, then second prizes for the next five, followed by joint first prize for Alex and Charlie! There was also an overall winner, who gave a superb speech in Chinese. He will be going with his family to see the pandas in Chengdu. Alex and Charlie will be off with their parents to Edinburgh Zoo, all expenses paid.
A wonderful day closed with a sumptuous Chinese buffet in the Embassy and the chance to mingle and make friends with the other competitors and their families and teachers.
The entries and videos of the day can be viewed below:-