NEW Scholarship – Grade 5 Flexi Speaking and Performing

Jul 19, 2021

The Gabrielle Balch Scholarship for Grade 6 Flexi Speaking and Performing

This NEW scholarship will be awarded each year to a very talented Grade 5 candidate, performing at Honours Plus level, to encourage them to continue with their examinations. This will be an examiner-nominated scholarship, with the award of free entry into Grade 6 Flexi Speaking and performing. Candidates who sit Grade 5 Flexi Speaking and Performing in 2021 will be the first to be put forward for this scholarship.


Helen Balch brings this scholarship to life in 2021 to acknowledge her mum, Gabrielle.
Helen’s mum got her into speech and drama lessons in Greymouth when Helen was 6 years old. She thought the breathing exercises might help Helen’s asthma! When the family moved to Lower Hutt a couple of years later, Helen learnt from Berwyn Gibbons, one of the founding mothers of Speech NZ. Gabrielle soon took on the role of local secretary for the Hutt Valley. She also served on the competitions committee in Lower Hutt.

When the family moved to Christchurch she continued with the competitions work. When Helen started teaching, she initially taught from her parents home, and when she had her children they came along with her and were looked after by their retired grandparents. Gabrielle always took a keen interest in all the students who passed through her house and they loved her – and her baking!
Gabrielle is now 93 and has severe Dementia, and whenever Helen goes to visit, although she cannot remember she is her mother, she does often ask about her students and if she has any outstanding ones at present! If it wasn’t for her mum, Helen may never have enjoyed her long association with Speech NZ. It has been 48 years since she sat her first Speech NZ exam!

Helen Balch, and her sisters Jill and Ruth who also sat Speech NZ exams with their mother Gabrielle in April 2021.


We are always looking to further support our fantastic candidates with scholarships. Would you be interested in creating an annual scholarship? We are particularly looking for Grade 6 and 7 Flexi Speaking and Performing scholarships, and would love to hear from anyone wanting to become a donor.