Netherthorpe School's senior debating society celebrates centenary

Headteacher Dave Williams, former secretary Steven Shaw, former chairman Chris Townsend, chairman Chris Martin, speaker Luke Beresford, secretary Eve Draycott and secretary Trevyn Woolf. Picture by Rachel Atkins.
Headteacher Dave Williams, former secretary Steven Shaw, former chairman Chris Townsend, chairman Chris Martin, speaker Luke Beresford, secretary Eve Draycott and secretary Trevyn Woolf. Picture by Rachel Atkins.

Netherthorpe School's senior debating society has celebrated its centenary.

The group - which was founded during the last year of the First World War - has debated countless issues over the last 100 years.

Headteacher Dave Williams, former secretary Steve Shaw, former chairman Chris Townsend, chairman Chris Martin, speaker Luke Beresford, secretary Eve Draycott and secretary Trevyn Woolf. Picture by Rachel Atkins.

Headteacher Dave Williams, former secretary Steve Shaw, former chairman Chris Townsend, chairman Chris Martin, speaker Luke Beresford, secretary Eve Draycott and secretary Trevyn Woolf. Picture by Rachel Atkins.

Chris Martin, chairman of the society, said: "I realise what a privilege it is to be responsible for the running of what has become an institution at Netherthorpe.

"As we move into our second century, I hope the society will go on providing an excellent training ground for students and give them the confidence and skills in public speaking that they will need in the future."

During an event to celebrate the group's 100th anniversary, current members organised a special debate asking 'were we better off 100 years ago than now?'

They invited ex-chairman and former deputy headteacher, Chris Townsend, and a former society secretary, Steven Shaw, to speak against a school team of Luke Beresford and Eva Draycott.

The students won and by a large majority decided that life is better today than 100 years ago.

They pointed out the benefits the internet has brought to the world and how environmental issues were now being understood like never before.

During the celebratory event, past records of debates stretching back to 1942 were on display and the group's minute books provided a fascinating glimpse of the social history of bygone years.

In 1952, the society was concerned about the broadcasting monopoly of the BBC.

The place of women in society was hotly debated in 1965 and there was concern about gaining equal rights for women.

Racial equality became a continuing issue among the debaters from the late 1960s.

The complex issue of the NHS was a concern which cropped up in the 1980s.

Many interesting ex-students were members of the group over the years, including the late Professor Harold Miller - who was a research student at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, the foremost centre of atomic physics - and Jill Wordley - who is now deputy director of the rural development programme for England at the Government's DEFRA.