Congleton Young Farmers Club team shine a light on the art of discourse

By Kevin Glenton

23rd Feb 2022 | Opinion

Congleton were victorious in Monday's competitive debating tie.

A group from Congleton Young Farmers Club took up the mantle of Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Malcom X inside Siddington Village Hall on Monday evening.

Six members from the debating team faced Knutsford Young Farmers in the 100 seat venue, competing in the Cheshire Young Farmers Club senior debate.

Sarah Nixon, chairlady of the Congleton club and member of the team, described the to and fro, prior to their winning second-round tie.

Strong support for Congleton from an enraptured audience of 35, as they took on Knutsford in a competitive debate.

"Topics which involve current affairs often create the most lively debate as people are passionate about these," she said.

"Especially this week's non-agricultural topic about vaccinations.

"The chair of the debate has to ensure it doesn't get personal and controls the atmosphere."

One of the judges, Stuart Furver, talked about how someone attending this event for the first time might build some new skills for their future.

John Nixon during his confident speech on mandatory vaccination.

"Perhaps a young person, a teenager, who might be going to university, might debate," he said.

"If they've been here to see this competition, for the rest of their education they'll have a much better idea of what this kind of evening involves."

John Nixon (24) was first up for Congleton, and his imposing speech was brisk yet poised, as he balanced on the balls of his feet like a prize-fighter.

Proposing speeches, seconding speeches and a set speech are prepared along with an impromptu dialogue, with only seven timed minutes for preparation in the heat of the moment.

The Congleton team listen and prepare their retort to a Knutsford proposal.

Debating has its roots in ancient Greece and a hotbed of discourse was a cornerstone of 18th century London society.

For most of the evening, one side advances the reasons for the argument to the chair, judges and audience unopposed, before all hear the riposte.

An official timer keeps their eye on the clock and proceedings are cordial, ordered and well-mannered - respect for the opponent and the chair is welcoming.

Sarah Nixon said teams are given the titles a week before the round to prepare two debates with numerous meetings to steel themselves, often including an intra-club debate between the older and younger members.

The winners' crest. Good manners, respect and order were on display at the debate.

She described a good debater as being confident and engaging, capable of captivating the audience, judges and opposition.

The topics on the table were 'All public sector workers should be vaccinated from COVID-19' and '2021 was a good year for UK agriculture'.

You can read hereabout the activities of Congleton Young Farmers Club.

The semi-finals of the Cheshire Young Farmers Club senior debate are on March 7.

Second-round winners from Congleton Young Farmers Club (l-r): Tom Radley, Sarah Nixon, Lizzy Andow, John Nixon, Winnie Bullock, Martha Gilman.

You can contact the Congleton group for the venue of the upcoming event.

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