The 2017/18 Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament culminated in an exciting evening of debate held in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 7 June.   Mhairi Sinclair and Helen Whalley, Peebles High School, who have only been involved in debating for eighteen months, were crowned tournament winners after proposing the motion ‘This House believes that physician assisted suicide should be legalised.'  Perth High School's Luca Delpipo and Fraser Macdonald took second place opposing Team Peebles and were awarded the runners-up prize.  Congratulations to you all!


Pictured from left to right back row :  Steven Roy, Jim Bauld, Sarah McWhirter, Adam McKinlay, Andrew Stevenson, Luca Delpipo and Fraser Macdonald (Perth High School), Sandy MacDonald and Lucas Higham (Lenzie Academy) and Jon Dye.  Front row:  Ivan Kapelyukh, Aidan Fuge and Holly McLeod (Strathallan School), Riya Banerjee, Hutcheson's Grammar School, Mhairi Sinclair and Helen Whalley (Peebles High School) alongside Linda Fabiani MSP and Alison Atak, President, Law Society of Scotland


Congratulations also go to Sandy MacDonald and Lucas Higham, Lenzie Academy and Aidan Fuge and Holly McLeod, Strathallan School who also battled their way through earlier rounds to compete in the finals. 

Pupils from the four finalist schools as well as Glasgow Gaelic School, High School of Dundee, Hutcheson’s Grammar School, Kilgraston School, Perth Academy, St Andrew’s & St Bride’s High School and Wellington School were given the opportunity to attend educational workshops offered by the Scottish Parliament's Events Team before taking part in the floor debate during which Riya Banerjree from Hutchesons’ Grammar was awarded a £50 book token for the best floor speech.

Deputy Presiding Officer, Linda Fabiani MSP, said: “Chairing this debate was a real pleasure. Despite such a demanding topic all of the participants showed themselves to be articulate and insightful debaters. With particular congratulations to Helen and Mhairi, from Peebles High school, this year’s winners. It would be no surprise to see some of this year’s finalists back in this Chamber in a few years’ time!”

Law firm TC Young (represented on the evening by Jim Bauld, pictured above) and publishers Hodder Gibson sponsored the event. Helen and Mhairi were presented with the tournament trophy and £1,000 for their school from the Law Society. Runners up, Perth High School, received £250 from the Glasgow Bar Association. All finalists received book tokens and individual quaichs to commemorate their success and tournament sponsors, Hodder Gibson Publishers, donated educational books to the value of £500, to be shared by the winners and runners-up.

Read the full press release here.

Motions debated in previous rounds included:
  • 'This House believes that democratic countries should boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia'.
  • ‘Monuments to controversial figures should be removed.’
  • ‘This House would introduce gender quotas for Parliament’
Judging the final were:
  • Adam McKinlay, Presiding (Devil, Society of Advocates)
  • Sarah McWhirter (Associate, Slater and Gordon),
  • Jon Dye (Head of Assurance, Heriot-Watt University and Former Chairman of the ESU),
  • Steven Roy (2017 Tournament Runner Up),
  • Ivan Kapelyukh (2017 Tournament Runner Up).

How the debate works

Learn about the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament format, rules and timescales.

Information for teams

Find out how to enter a team for the debate and read case studies from past competitors.

Information for judges

Whether you're a law student, a trainee, a practicing or retired solicitor or just love debating, we'd love to hear from you!