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22nd November 2016

Pictured is Phoebe Griffith, the scientist who will present prizes to Cranmer Awards finalists at The Old Palace in Worcester on February 25 next

The ‘Quinquagesima factor’ is just one reason why competing in the Prayer Book Society’s Cranmer Awards Scheme is so worthwhile, according to the scientist who will present prizes to finalists at The Old Palace in Worcester on February 25 next year. 

She is Phoebe Griffith (23), a zoologist who first competed in the nationwide contest at the age of 13 while a pupil at Moreton Hall School in Shropshire. 

Phoebe says that the experience of reciting a passage from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer from memory helped her gain the confidence required to address scientific audiences on subjects which involve complex terminology.

‘Introducing a reading for Quinquagesima – the Sunday before Ash Wednesday  – before a panel of judges and an adult audience was a daunting challenge I welcomed at such a young age,’ recalls Phoebe who won the Senior First Prize in the 2011 contest.

The competition attracts huge interest every year, reports Prudence Dailey, chairman of the Prayer Book Society who explains why Phoebe was invited to present the prizes this year: ‘As someone who is closer to the ages of contestants than those who have done so in recent years, she can speak from personal experience about the contest and its long-term value in ways likely to inspire and encourage the young people who take part.’    

Phoebe is expected to tell the Worcester audience how The Book of Common Prayer has helped her in other ways.

‘Reading the beautiful language of the Prayer Book, and getting to understand it, led to an appreciation of the King James Bible,’ she said. ‘Learning about the history of the Prayer Book, created by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer during the Reformation, also opened up to me the language in the works of William Shakespeare which previously I had found difficult to appreciate. Now I am one of his biggest fans!’

The Cranmer Awards competition has been held annually since 1989. Last year pupils from 13 dioceses entered the contest and 28 finalists competed to share £1,000 in prize money. Each winner also receives a certificate and a copy of the Book of Common Prayer.

Prior to the finals and award ceremony at The Old Palace in Worcester, the finalists will have memorised their chosen passages so that they can speak them by heart in front of an audience of more than 100 comprising parents, teachers, clergy and members of the Prayer Book Society.

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