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Bishop's Stortford High School debating team wins place in national final of English-Speaking Union Schools' Mace

A team from The Bishop's Stortford High School (TBSHS) has reached the national final of the oldest and most prestigious schools debating competition in the UK.

Year 12 trio Finn Lihoreau, William Worthy and Elliot Wood won the Eastern region final of the English-Speaking Union Schools' Mace.

They are one of 12 teams from 196 entries to reach the England final on Monday (Mar 29), when they will seek to emulate the victory by a TBSHS team in the 2003 contest. It is the seventh consecutive year the London Road secondary has reached this stage.

The English winners will then face their Irish, Scottish and Welsh counterparts to determine the overall champions and take home the Silver Mace championship trophy.

Proposing the motion "This house would embrace emotion in the public discourse over dispassionate objectivity", Finn, William and Elliot defeated teams from five schools in Hatfield, Chelmsford, Colchester, Bury St Edmunds and Holbrook, Suffolk.

Judges praised the teams for their innovative arguments, depth of analysis and clear structure of their speeches, but singled out the TBSHS trio for their passion and enthusiasm and the quality of their responses to arguments put forward by their opponents.

From left, Finn Lihoreau, researcher Tom Harding, Elliot Wood and William Worthy (45281791)
From left, Finn Lihoreau, researcher Tom Harding, Elliot Wood and William Worthy (45281791)

Coach and retired teacher Tony Fraser said: "Despite the added difficulty of having to debate online rather than face to face, the teams produced one of the best regional finals I can remember.

"Our squad of students – including Tom Harding, who helped with the research – worked very hard to earn this well-deserved success and become the first team from Bishop's Stortford to reach Mace finals day since 2003."

Head Dale Reeve added: "This is a brilliant achievement for the three boys and for all those involved in debating at TBSHS. We have a great debating tradition at the school and have achieved a lot of success in the past, but this has been a bumper year for us with teams also reaching the finals day of competitions run by Cambridge and Oxford universities.

"Debating provides the perfect arena for young people to develop the confidence to speak publicly and encourages them to communicate in a clear, coherent way that will certainly impress future employers. Huge credit must go to Mr Fraser and the other staff who have supported our debating endeavours over the years."

The competition was founded in 1957 by The Observer newspaper journalist Kenneth Harris and was initially known as The Observer Schools' Mace. The first event was won by Felsted School, who also won in 1960.

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