A FORMER Chancellor of the Exchequer has helped a schoolboy from Cleobury Mortimer to victory in a public speaking contest.

Freddie White, aged 11, won the annual speech contest at Abberley Hall School, near Tenbury Wells, thanks to input from former deputy prime minister Lord Geoffrey Howe, who attended the school as a boy.

Freddie, who lives near Cleobury Mortimer, chose “Life at Abberley Hall School in World War Two” as his subject in the event, in which he had to address the school for more than five minutes.

“As part of his research he wrote to four old boys who were educated at Abberley Hall during the war, including Geof frey Howe and Michael Haggard, an ex-headmaster here, and received responses about their experiences, on which he based his speech,” said Gill Portsmouth, registrar at the school.

Freddie spoke about how Abberley Hall was a safe haven in the time of conflict – the school had moved from Kent for that reason during the First World War.

The Abberley Clock Tower was used as a look-out post by the Home Guard, of which the headmaster at the time was a member.

Freddie, who made his presentation in the school uniform of the 1940s, said: “I thought it would have been very difficult to have been a pupil at that time when members of your family were fighting in the war and possibly being injured or killed.

“The children were only allowed one boiled sweet per day and they had to work to provide their own food, picking fruit and growing vegetables in the walled garden.

“Yet the old boys’ chief memory was working together to overcome the difficulties of war.”

The other finalists, whose subjects ranged from such diverse subjects as Nelson Mandela to pony racing, were Paddy Amphlett, Thomas Brennan, William Hope, Holly Needham, James Wakefield, Lucien Whitworth and Sam Wood.