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A step closer to the ‘Great Debate’

Hugo Millard, from Headley Down, has won the West Surrey heat of the Historical Association Public Speaking Competition and is now invited to the ‘Great Debate’ to be held at the Houses of Parliament in March 2018.

The topic for the West Surrey competitions: Was the 1918 extension of the franchise the most significant moment in British democratic history? Hugo, from Godalming College joined candidates from both the Independent and State sectors including Portsmouth Grammar, Farnborough Sixth Form, Woking and Strode’s College.  Hugo chose to focus on the German printing press of the 15th Century as the most significant moment in democratic history. “I chose this as firstly I believe that this is indeed the most important moment but that it also shows the need to develop and cultivate relationships with other countries for betterment and progress. In a nutshell I explore how the printing press allowed the non-elite peoples to develop complex and developed opinions that in turn contributed to nationwide discussions, literacy levels rose dramatically and prior to the printing press and the age of mass communication the large majority of countries were governed by an absolute monarch or dictator.”

Hugo began Public Speaking in internal competitions at his Secondary School, Bohunt.  At Godalming College he has been involved much more in external competitions and it is something that he wishes to continue in the future, feeling that it is a useful transferable skill. Hugo thoroughly enjoys Public Speaking and says “The competition was definitely impressive and I am honestly surprised that I won. Some speakers there could easily go on to parliament with clear diction and presence whilst others presented power and inspiration through insightful talks on women in the political world and religious equality.”

The Great Debate is held in partnership with the UK Parliament’s vote 100 project which celebrates the 100th anniversary of all men and some women voting for the first time the general election of December 1918.  The Public speaking competition is advertised as an ideal opportunity for students to gain valuable experience in speaking to an audience and developing confidence and self-esteem in addition to their skills of developing a historical argument.