PUPILS battled it out to convince a team of judges to vote for their chosen charity projects to benefit from a share of £1,500.

Year 8 students at Ormiston Rivers Academy took part in the First Give programme which saw them spend eight weeks learning about social issues and the charities which work to address them.

First Give provides schools with £1,500 to find out more and support their community.

Six teams – each representing either community first responders, The J’s Hospice, the RNLI, Citizens Advice, Age Concern and Essex Search and Rescue – delivered speeches on why their charity should benefit from the cash.

The final, which took place last week, was presided over by a team of six judges who marked the presentations on criteria including knowledge, creativity and delivery.

Burnham mayor Ron Pratt was joined by Maldon District Council chairman Peter Elliott, Essex County councillor Stephen Canning, Rotary chairman Harry Payne, principal Joan Costello and Ormiston business manager Angela Mahoney on the panel.

First Give’s representative, Caroline Sargeant, announced the results with Citizens Advice being awarded £250 and the community first responders picking up a £250 and £1,000 grant.

John Cleary, Community First Responders said: “We were delighted to receive a cheque for £250 and never expected to receive another one for £1,000.

“It was remarkable to see the positive impact community engagement in general, and CFR’s in particular have had, and hear how CFR’s have directly touched the lives of some of your students and their immediate families.

“It is very rare for us to get any feedback on operational matters due to patient confidentiality.”

Melissa Marable, teacher of religious studies, citizenship and sociology, praised the students for their outstanding effort.

She said; “Most were incredibly nervous as it was the first time they had ever spoken in public.

“However, they fought their nerves and delivered their presentations with conviction, passion and enthusiasm. They demonstrated considerable knowledge of the charities they were representing, and their delivery skills ranged from using statistics, creating videos, drama and supporting leaflets.”