The Great Debate Final 2024

By Paula Kitching, published 25th March 2024

The Historical Association is delighted to announce the winners of the Great Debate 2024


  • Emma Crow of Broxburn Academy, Broxburn, Scotland 

Runners up: 

  • Abigail Powers of The Ladies’ College, Guernsey 
  • Erica Wright of William Farr School, Lincolnshire 
  • Rachel McGarry of Shavington Academy, Crewe, Cheshire 


  • Sofia Ntege, North Oxfordshire Academy, Banbury
  • Harry Gray, Exeter School, Exeter
  • Rhea Cherrington, Bablake School, Coventry
  • Molly Grimshaw, Bolton School Girls’ Division, Bolton
  • Jessie Bolton, Antrim Grammar School, Northern Ireland
  • Lindsey Kemp, Batley Girls High School, Batley
  • Amreeta Sekhon, Guildford High School, Guildford
  • Amelie Hillier Birkdale School, Sheffield,
  • Duaa Kazmi, Ifield Community College, Crawley
  • Ella Russell, Ysgol Eirias, Wales
  • Arthi Vijayamurugan, Colchester County High School for Girls, Colchester
  • Tilly Critchley, Les Quennevais School, Jersey
  • Zak Cunningham, Henry Box School, Witney
  • Manni Geng, Altrincham Girls Grammar School, Altrincham
  • Freya Robson, King Henry VIII School, Coventry
  • Izzy Smith, Loughborough High School, Loughborough
  • Deryn Wheeler, Shrewsbury College, Shrewsbury
  • Fran Fazackerley, Winstanley College, Wigan

The final was held at the Vicars' Hall at Windsor Castle on 23 March 2024 and attended by 22 finalists from across the UK. This year each finalist needed to have taken part in a regional competition and one of three semi-final stages.  Films of all the speeches can be accessed here...

The competition question for this year was:

Which historical place or person from your local area deserves greater recognition? 

Speakers were asked to explore the local history of their area or region in all of its diversity or singularity to identify a person or place that has contributed to the world that we live in today and should be better known.  

Students do not use props or slides of any kind and rely entirely upon how well they present their argument, demonstrating their research and full understanding of their chosen topic and its wider impact. The judges ask at least one relevant question of the students at the end of each talk.  

The winner’s talk was a fascinating story of Mary Patterson, who was one of the victims of the infamous grave robbers and murders of William Burke and William Hare in the early 19th century.  

The runners-ups' subjects included: women and children killed in the Channel Islands as part of the Reformation; mental health reform in Lincolnshire; and the healing properties of Wimberry Moss. All of the finalists’ talks will be available to view after the spring holidays.  

The standard of all the talks were outstanding and the judges deliberated at length over the winners. The judges this year were:

Professor Alexandra Walsham, Professor of Modern History, Cambridge and President of the Historical Association 
Professor Jonathan Phillips, Professor of Crusading History, Royal Holloway, University of London 
Abdul Muhamed, Co-director of Justice to History, PhD Fellow at UCL-IOE: Empire, Migration and Belonging 

Many of those that have entered the competition this year have agreed to have their talk written up and the HA will publish it in a dedicated area of our website to celebrate Local and Community History Month talking place this May.

Great Debate 2025

The question for the 2024-25 academic year is: 

How can your local history tell a global story?

Interested in hosting a heat? Get in touch by completing this form.

To register for a heat in your area next year, contact