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National Debating Finals Come to Maidstone

Friday 6th June 2014

MAIDSTONE was selected to host the finals of the Great Britain and Ireland Youth debating contest – and local politicians, renowned for their own way with words, were among the judges.

Jasper Gerard, Lib Dem parliamentary campaigner for Maidstone, was one of three judges for the Rotary-organised competition, held at Cornwallis School, along with Gordon Henderson MP and Eric Hotson, chairman of Kent County Council.

The Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Clive English, presented the prizes and declared it one of the happiest days of his life to see young people debating so brilliantly. He said: “I hope next year the winner will be a Maidstone school.”

Sadly this year no local school had made it through to the highly competitive finals, the winners being an all-girl team from St Bede’s Inter-Church School from Cambridgeshire, who debated on the subject “The Best Day of Her Life?” – how forced marriage is an evil that should be eradicated.

Mr Gerard says he now intends to set up a debating club for local schools and is inviting sixth form heads and other teachers to contact him at

He said: “I couldn’t believe how young some of the competitors were. There aren’t many MPs who speak with their fluency, yet one of them would have needed to stand on tip-toe to see over a garden gate!”