Monday, 29 November 2010

Guildford Parish and School Debate: 'Should Britain Abandon Its Nuclear Deterrent?'

Students and Parishioner Debating Team with
the  Deputy Mayor of Guildford and his wife

The annual debate between the Sixth form of St. Peter’s and the parish of St. Pius X took place recently on a dark autumn evening in the tightly packed auditorium of the Guildhall on Guildford High Street. Whilst city commuters hurried home to their television dinners and late night shoppers clutched bags close to them on their way to the train station rows of spectators inside the Guildhall were treated to a battle royal as the two teams debated fiercely on the proposal that Britain should abandon its nuclear deterrent.

As the teams and their supporters filtered into the Guildhall they were welcomed by the marvelous hosts of the PTA proffering glasses of wine and choice snacks. They could not have anticipated the debate that was to ensue. Brows furrowed, pens were twirled anxiously and there were sharp intakes of breath; the illustrious figures in the paintings on the walls loomed over the proceedings and in his role as Chairperson Mr. Guinea launched the debate.

Members of each team took turns to present their arguments and it was quickly apparent that the participants had done their research. Glittering rhetoric, polished arguments and dazzling oratory met in a heady mixture that left the audience on the edge of their seats and the judges with the unenviable task of separating the two sides. The debate raged from discussion of moral arguments to the Catholic Church’s reflections on the “Just War” theory. There was also much to be said on Britain’s role in the world and the practical and financial implications of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

At the three quarter point there was opportunity for questions from the floor and members of the audience showed how closely they had been following as they probed for clarification of points made or sought to query the logical and factual basis of the points that had been presented to them. Both teams had to be on their mettle as they had no way of anticipating what would come up. Both teams proved themselves able to think on their feet and it was all conducted in the spirit of shared intellectual appreciation and respect.

At the close of the debate people gathered in groups to discuss which way the judges would call it. Again the PTA was on hand to provide refreshments which were gratefully received. The judges consisted of the St. Peter’s chaplain, Mr. David Beresford; Sarah Nagle, a local solicitor and governor of St. Peter’s and Annabelle Green – Terry, a former student of St. Peter’s and during the break they deliberated on the result.

A silence fell as Mr. David Beresford rose to deliver the judges’ verdict. It was declared a victory for St. Peter’s. The guest of honour, Deputy Mayer Terence Patrick awarded the impressive shield. Mr. Guinea conducted a poll amongst the audience to see whether they agreed with the judges’ verdict and again the Sixth Form came out unanimous winners.

Our thanks go to the Mayor’s Office for so generously allowing the use of the Guildhall which made the event truly memorable and to Deputy Mayor Terence Patrick and his wife for being there to witness the showcasing of the school and parish’s intellectual wares. Our thanks also go to the PTA of St. Peter’s for providing the refreshments and to everyone who made the evening such a spectacle and such a success.

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