Published Wednesday, 17th October 2012 in Education news
Two SRUC students have triumphed at the Young Advocates for Agriculture debating competition in London.
Sarah Allison, studying Green Technology and Scott Somerville, studying Applied Animal Science, were pitted against teams from Newcastle University, the Royal Agricultural College, Easton College, Bishop Burton College, Aberystwyth University and the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs.
Despite the plethora of talent on display Scott and Sarah were quietly confident.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect,” Sarah said, “but as we’ve both had a lot of speech making experience with the Young Farmers’ Club we weren’t too nervous.”
That experience stood them in good stead. Sarah and Scott, who are both based at Riverside campus in Ayr, had the summer to prepare to oppose the motion: ‘The house believes that the highest standards of animal welfare are incompatible with intensive farming methods’. They had thirty minutes to lay out their case against Bishop Burton College before awaiting the judges’ verdict.
“We were able to create a good argument, covering all the major points to ensure we did the subject justice.” Scott explained.
Acknowledging the importance of content Sarah stressed that: “With good simple speechmaking in the end it is not what you say, but how you say it.”
BBC journalist Tom Heap, farmers Adrian Ivory and Guy Smith, and one of last year’s winners Charlotte Flint had the unenviable task of judging the debate. While the standard was very high it was Sarah and Scott who impressed the most with their confidence, humour and their ability to deliver their argument without reference to notes.
The importance of being able to communicate agricultural issues clearly was stressed by HRH Princess Anne who presented the winners with their trophy.
She said: “How the industry's relationship will stand up with the public and how you explain it is important. Contentious arguments are often quite simple and need to be kept that way so people aren't distracted.”
The Princess Royal was highly praised by both SRUC students. “She was lovely, really down to earth” Sarah said: “She wasn’t worried about protocol, she just wanted to get to know us.”
Sarah and Scott also won £300 and Scott was chosen as the 2nd in the annual Oxford Farming Conference’s debate in the Oxford Union in January.
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