Contest success earns George a great prize

George Hunter, centre, pictured during the HSBC British Council Mandarin Speaking Competition final ceremony.
George Hunter, centre, pictured during the HSBC British Council Mandarin Speaking Competition final ceremony.

After showing his skills in an increasingly important foreign language, a Ponteland teenager won a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Far East.

George Hunter was successful in the intermediate regional heats for the HSBC British Council Mandarin Speaking Competition in December.

He progressed to the national final, which took place at the British Museum in London earlier this month. The Year 12 Ponteland High School student delivered a dynamic two-minute presentation and was confident in the question and answer session that followed.

The judges were impressed with his natural and immediate responses to the translation task and his excellent skills enabled him to beat 11 other students from various schools across the country, including private and grammar schools.

The prize is an all expenses trip to Beijing at Easter with a member of the British Council.

George said “The competition was an incredible experience which I will never forget. I met so many amazing people.

“I can’t wait to go to Beijing. I’m sure it will be a fantastic trip.”

The 17-year-old has been studying Mandarin in after-school classes since Year 9 and he achieved an A* in the subject at GCSE.

He also set-up a website and blog in September (www.mytiediary.co.uk) so people can follow his progress as he attempts to wear a different tie for every day of the school year.

The challenge is supporting charities close to his heart as close members of his family have been affected by mental health issues.