2 May 2019

Since last autumn, over 5,000 children have taken part in Voice Box – the joke-telling competition for schools in England and Scotland. Eighteen made it through to the final at Portcullis House, Westminster in London on 30 April 2019, with Nick Smith MP acting as Master of Ceremonies.


One of them walked away a winner – local schoolgirl Jasmine Wilkins, who attends Mary Hare Primary School in Newbury, Berkshire.

Jasmine, who is 11 and originally from Chippenham in Wiltshire, won top prize – an iPad – having delighted the packed audience of politicians, parents and children with her joke:

“If I had six apples in my left hand and seven apples in my right hand, what would I have?

Big hands!”

Asked what she would like to be when she grows up, Jasmine responded: “I’d like to be a rally driver.”

Voice Box is an annual competition, organised by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) and partnered by National Association of Head Teachers.

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.

More than 10% of children and young people have long term speech, language and communication needs which create barriers to communication or learning in everyday life.

This includes 7.6% of children who start school with developmental language disorder, a condition where children have problems understanding or using spoken language with no obvious reason for these difficulties, and 2.3% who have difficulties associated with another condition such as autism or hearing impairment.

Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, who attended the event, commented: “I am delighted to support Jasmine Wilkins at Voice Box.

It has shown me how critical communication skills are in determining a child’s life chances.

As a politician, speaking and listening is a vital part of my life and I really value the work done by teachers and speech and language therapists to enable others, including children, to communicate more easily.”

RCSLT Chief Executive Officer Kamini Gadhok MBE added: “In every classroom there will be between two and three children with communication difficulties. The Voice Box competition helps teachers, children and parents to focus on the impact effective communication can have on a child’s social and emotional well-being.”

For more information and images please contact us on 0207 378 3013 or email Josephine Olley.