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Communication Skills


Catherine Gilliland attended the 2012 ‘Voice Box Awards’ final at Parliament Buildings on behalf of St Mary’s University College. Catherine was one of the judges at the event, which was part of the UK-wide ‘Giving Voice’ campaign.


Voice Box Champion, Connor from Derry, with The Speaker of the

Northern Ireland Assembly, William Hay MLA



Heather Crawford and Catherine Gilliland


Although the event is light-hearted, it nevertheless addresses the challenges and barriers which children with communication difficulties face at school.

Hosting the event, Mr William Hay, MLA, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said:

As an institution in which speaking and communication play a huge part, I have been very keen that the Assembly should provide a platform to highlight the speech and language difficulties many people face. It is particularly important that we give all of our children and young people the support, encouragement and recognition they deserve.

Also taking part in the event was the Education Minister, Mr John O’Dowd. Commenting on the event, he said:

Communication is an integral part of a person’s identity, and difficulty communicating can have many negative knock-on effects. The Voice Box Awards initiative encourages children and young people to overcome any obstacles they might experience when communicating verbally and instils a confidence in them that stays. I congratulate the organisers on delivering what is an excellent and fulfilling event and hope all the young people who took part enjoy the positive benefits to their communication skills.


The Speaker and Alison McCullough MBE

presenting Terry McCann with his post-primary category award


The need to act to address this problem has never been greater, according to Heather Crawford MBE, RCSLT, Northern Ireland Country Councillor, who explained the importance of the Voice Box Awards:

Children with communication difficulties face so many barriers at school, in public and even at home which need to be addressed if they are to be happy and healthy. It is hoped that in running this competition for the second year in a row, we can highlight the importance of addressing speech, language and communication needs for children to ensure they make the most of their education and leisure experiences.

Education Minister, John O’Dowd


For more information on speech and language therapy, please visit www.rcslt.org and for the Giving Voice campaign, please visit www.givingvoiceuk.org.