A trainee solicitor who launched a project to help school pupils in Shropshire develop their debating skills has been given a special award in recognition for her work.
The Debate-Ed programme was set up Holly Edwards, a trainee solicitor at Lanyon Bowdler, and is one of just a handful of similar projects in the country.
More than 100 school pupils have taken part in the project since it began last September, and plans are in place to expand it over the coming months and years.
Holly was presented with a special award at the recent Mayor of Shrewsbury Awards presentation evening, and the Debate-Ed programme itself won a gold award.
Kay Kelly, partner at Lanyon Bowdler which sponsors the project, said: “We are very proud of what Holly has achieved and she thoroughly deserves the recognition for her hard work.
“The Debate-Ed project is fantastic and involves sixth form students mentoring younger school pupils in a series of debating workshops.
“The first year culminated in a competition at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College recently, which was judged by partners from Lanyon Bowdler, the Mayor of Shrewsbury, Miles Kenny, and Judge Jim Tindal.
“We all remarked how confident and impressive the pupils were during the debates, which was just marvellous to see.”
The aim of the project is to give school pupils a head start when they apply for university courses or future jobs by encouraging them to develop their communication skills by taking part in debating workshops.
Holly was inspired to set up the programme after getting involved with debating while at university.
She said: “Debating skills are very important for a law career, but whatever job you do, the ability to be analytical and see things from different points of view is hugely useful.
“When I came back to Shropshire after university, I was keen to set something up with schools here, and approached Shrewsbury Sixth Form College with the idea of some students becoming mentors and it’s gone from there.
“We are hoping to recruit some more mentors so we can expand the programme to more schools next year.
“Who knows, if we keep getting positive feedback from schools there’s no reason why we couldn’t roll the programme out to other areas across the country too.”
For more information about the programme, visit the website at www.debate-ed.co.uk or connect on twitter @debate-ed