RSA National Vice President, ANZ Regional Manager and 2016 Winner Stephanie Simpson with her mother.
Marlborough Girls’ College student Stephanie Simpson has taken top honours in the national final of the 2016 ANZ RSA Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition, winning a trip to Gallipoli to attend ANZAC Day commemorations.
Simpson’s speech beat seven other Year 12 and 13 regional finalists to win the competition in Wellington. Her prize includes a trip to Gallipoli for the 2016 Anzac Day commemorations, a $1000 travel fund, trophy, laptop computer and digital camera.
The 18-year-old impressed the judges with a passionate speech about the experiences of nurses on hospital ships, mere kilometres from the frontlines at Gallipoli during the First World War.
“There were so many great speeches, and I’m thankful for the brilliant experience of coming here, and to speak in this special place,” she said.
She was excited and honoured to attend the Dawn Service at Gallipoli and speak at the Reflective Service.
“I did as much research into the experience and history of the nurses as I could, I really tried to put myself into that situation and imagine what they must have faced. A lot of them would have been about the same age as me when they went to war.”
The students spoke on the subject of ‘New Zealanders in World War 1’, with topics ranging from individual servicemen and wartime nurses to specific war events and aspects of commemoration. Returned and Services Association (RSA) National President BJ Clark said the competition “was a wonderful example of young New Zealanders honouring the legacy of those who came before them”.
“These students have paid a powerful tribute to the Anzac spirit, and those who exemplified the values of courage, commitment, compassion and comradeship, in the service they gave and sacrifices they made. Many of those who fought and died in the conflicts the contestants have spoken about were the around the same age as those on stage, which makes this doubly poignant.” The competition is a partnership between the RSA and ANZ to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of the sacrifices made by those who served New Zealand in armed conflicts overseas.
Launched in 2010, the competition is a tribute to Cyril Bassett, VC (1892-1983) – the only New Zealander at Gallipoli to be awarded the Victoria Cross, and one who worked his entire non-wartime career for the ANZ Group.
Peter Parussini, Head of Corporate Affairs ANZ, said the bank, which has been in New Zealand for more than 140 years, was proud to be involved in this celebration of our country’s history.
“Anzac Day is an occasion to reflect on the history that shaped us all as New Zealanders, and to pay tribute to those who gave so much for our country and our way of life.”
The 2016 Regional Finalists
Click on the names below to watch their speeches: