On Monday 27th November, St John’s School, Leatherhead held the ‘Historical Association: Great Debate’ for 2024. Three judges, a five-minute limit, twelve sixth form pupils. All coming from schools within Surrey, everyone had contrasting deliveries, topics, tones but equal levels of passion and excitement. 


With the question for this year being, “Which historical place or person from your local area deserves greater recognition?”, all the spectators learned of twelve new figures within our local vicinity. St John’s student representative spoke about Marie Stopes, the scientist behind the UK’s first birth control clinic. With a passionate delivery, she gave a quote after the evening, “I loved researching Stopes character, especially since such a pivotal person lived so close to me, and I didn’t even know it!”. Her performance, along with the eleven other contestants was proceeded by follow-up questions. These included, “Why did you choose to research [their place/person]” and “What sources did you go to begin finding out about [their place/person]?”.


Despite all of the impressive performances, however, there had to be only one winner from this regional heat. With a girl from Guilford High School winning with her speech on a mathematician from Godalming. Whilst there was also a runner up picked out by the judges, who chose to speak about a figurehead from where she lived, in the Isle of Wight. Though, there were also more emotive talks on soldiers, diggers, even one family member. 


Overall, the event was both enlightening and fun. I can safely say I learnt lots about my local area and saw some impressive performances by some impressive students. There was an unmatched level of enthusiasm with a group of young historians who have a clear and bright future ahead of them. Well done to all who participated!