Schoolboy makes final of joke-telling contest

A Berwick Academy student reached the final of a national comedy competition.

Tuesday, 8th May 2018, 9:45 am
Voice Box 2018 finalists Mason Hope (L) & Jake Winson (R) with Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP.

Jake Winson, 16, was one of 25 pupils – four of them from Northumberland – who made it through to last week’s final at Speaker’s House in Westminster.

Since last autumn, thousands of children have taken part in Voice Box – the joke-telling competition for schools in England, Scotland and Wales.

Jake got the audience giggling with his frayed knot joke (see panel).

Asked what he would like for a career, Jake responded: “I’d like to be trained in engineering and run my own engineering business so I can work on my own projects.”

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

Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who was also at the final, said: “I’m very pleased to support Jake at Voice Box. The event has demonstrated how communication skills help children to have the best start in life. Public speaking is a part of my daily life and as such I fully appreciate the work teachers and speech and language therapists do to help children to communicate as well as possible.”


Two pieces of string walk into a bar and there’s a sign saying: ‘We don’t sell drinks to pieces of string’.

The first piece of string goes up to the barman and asks for a pint. The barman replies: ‘We don’t sell drinks to pieces of string, get out.’

The piece of string goes back up to his friend and says: ‘They don’t sell drinks to us.’

The second piece of string goes up to the barman and asks for a drink.

The barman asks: ‘Are you a piece of string?’ He replies: ‘No, I’m a frayed knot.’

Two boys were from Ashington – 10-year-old Ben Pepper and Zach Robinson, age 11. Joining them was Mason Hope, age 10, from Morpeth.

Ben, who attends NCEA Thomas Berwick Campus, delighted the packed audience of politicians, parents and children with his joke:

What do you call a tall man in Scotland with a burger for a hat? A Big Mac!

Fellow competitor, Zach, who attends NCEA James Knott Campus, had the audience in stitches with his music-focussed joke:

Knock knock, who’s there?

Knock knock, who’s there?

Britney Spears…oops, I did it again!

Mason, a pupil of NCEA William Leech Campus, brought lots more laughter to the event with his joke:

Why was the laptop cold?

Because it didn’t close all its windows!

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.

Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of The House of Commons, said: “I’m delighted this wonderful event is taking place in Speaker’s House for the fourth year running. Voice Box is such a fun competition and I applaud the RCSLT and its partners for running it. It’s 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: “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.”