Since September 2015, hundreds of schoolchildren have taken part in the national joke-telling competition, Voice Box. Twenty made it through to the final at Speaker’s House, Westminster in London on 2 March. One of them, local schoolboy Thomas Swanson collected a runner-up prize.
Thomas, age 6, who attends Springwell School in Hartlepool, Durham, delighted the packed audience of politicians, parents and children with his joke:
What’s pink and fluffy? Pink fluff...
What’s blue and fluffy? Pink fluff holding its breath.
After Thomas had been presented with his runners-up award – national book tokens worth £50 – his father, Jonathan Swanson said: “It’s been a great opportunity and we’re very proud of him. Thomas was very excited before the event and only had two hours sleep last night.”
Voice Box is an annual competition, organised by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and partnered by The Communication Trust. It aims to remind people that there are children in every classroom who need support to help them speak and understand what is being said to them.
Nearly 20% of the population may experience communication difficulties at some point in their lives.
7% of children aged about five years have specific speech and language impairment and a further 1.8% have speech, language and communication needs linked to other conditions, such as learning disability, cerebral palsy, and autism spectrum disorders.
John Bercow, Speaker of The House of Commons, said: “I am delighted to be able to host this wonderful event for the second year running. It is extremely important that children with speech, language and communication needs receive the support they require to reach their potential.”
RCSLT Chief Executive Officer Kamini Gadhok MBE said: “Speech, language and communication difficulties are the most common type of special education need in 4 – 11 year-old children. However, with the right help and support, children can improve their social skills, peer relationships and self-confidence, and access education that is vital to improving their life chances.”
click here to see his joke.