A SCHOOLGIRL has been praised for her ability to read and recite passages from historical verses as part of an annual contest.

Madeline Stevens, from St Andrew’s School in Pangbourne, received a special certificate after reaching the finals of The Cranmer Awards.

The competition introduces young people to The Book of Prayer, which was created by Thomas Cranmer in 1662 during the Reformation.

More than 300 pupils entered local heats and Madeline, 11, was one of only 27 children to reach the national finals in Worcester.

All of the contestants memorized and recited passages in front of a packed crowd of teachers, clergy and members of the Prayer Book Society.

Her certificate was presented by journalist, theatre critic and author Quentin Letts.

The Cranmer Awards, a national competition run by the Prayer Book Society, has taken place annually since 1989.

The judges look for competitors able to demonstrate that they understand the words they are speaking while communicating them with clarity and fluency, in a style similar to that of a well-conducted church service.