Nicholas Walsh, Ella Moroney and Emily Jones shine at Lions Youth of the Year Quest Aberdeen-Muswellbrook club final

WELL DONE: Nicholas Walsh (Aberdeen), Ella Moroney (Muswellbrook) and Emily Jones (Aberdeen) at the Lions Youth of the Year Quest club final at Muswellbrook on Saturday night.

WELL DONE: Nicholas Walsh (Aberdeen), Ella Moroney (Muswellbrook) and Emily Jones (Aberdeen) at the Lions Youth of the Year Quest club final at Muswellbrook on Saturday night.

IT was a difficult task for the judges - evaluating six impressive youngsters from the Upper Hunter.

But, they managed to do it.

Now, Nicholas Walsh and Ella Moroney will represent Aberdeen and Muswellbrook respectively after winning their overall club honours in the 2019-2020 Lions Youth of the Year (YOTY) Quest at the Muswellbrook Race Club on Saturday night.

It capped off a brilliant evening for Moroney, who also collected the Muswellbrook public speaking award for her talk on the lack of drug rehabilitation in country towns.

Emily Jones, who spoke about the effect of loneliness on the elderly, secured the Aberdeen equivalent.

They'll head straight through to the regional finals, which will be hosted by the Muswellbrook Lioness Club in the town library's seminar room on Sunday, March 15.

"It was an excellent night - and turnout," Lions YOTY coordinator Meegan Van Der Vliet said.

"We had about 50 people in attendance, including a number of local businesses.

"All the contestants did a terrific job, too.

"The YOTY is an annual event but, in 2020, Aberdeen and Muswellbrook Lions joined forces, which paid off.

"Our thanks, on behalf of presidents Bob Dixon and Matt Benge, must go to sponsor National Australia Bank for its support."

Walsh, who talked about renewable energy on the evening, admitted he was proud to take another step forward in the competition.

"The Lions YOTY Quest is such a fantastic opportunity," he said.

"Going through the interview and public speaking processes has been great, for example, so I'm keen to expand on those areas - and more - at regionals.

"I've entered things like eisteddfods before, but one of my teachers told me it would be a good experience.

"My pop used to be in Lions as well.

"So I'd heard a lot about the YOTY Quest - and decided to give it a go."

And, the Muswellbrook High School Year 12 student is glad he did.

"I'll admit, there were a mix of emotions [at the weekend]," Walsh said.

"I was surprised to win.

"But, at the same time, I was also happy [for me] - and happy for Ella.

"I know all of the participants; and everyone's fantastic.

"Even though we're sort of competing [against each other], we looked out for each other, too.

"That was nice.

"Now, I'm facing another of my closest friends, Paddy McTaggart, next month.

"I'll try and do the best I can."