A TEAM of brainbox farmers from Middlewich have been named the county’s top debaters.

Middlewich Young Farmers' Club went head-to-head with their Congleton rivals at the final of the Cheshire Young Farmers' annual debating contest on Monday, March 25.  

The ever-popular event drew a strong crowd to Byley Village Hall, where the teams crossed intellectual sword over a range of topics including the impact of artificial intelligence, and the benefits of membership of the National Farmers’ Union.

The same two teams competed in last year’s final, when Congleton took the title. But this year, a team of three expert judges declared it was the team from Middlewich who emerged victorious.

Northwich Guardian: The combined teams of Middlewich and Congleton Young Farmers ClubsThe combined teams of Middlewich and Congleton Young Farmers Clubs (Image: Lisa Oakes)

Middlewich team member, Lisa Oakes, said their victory was ‘genuinely thrilling’, before paying tribute to their Congleton adversaries, who she said were ‘an amazing team’.

She added: “We were absolutely thrilled to win this year. It was a truly exciting contest.

“It was a huge team effort. A lot of hard work goes into the competitions beforehand. There’s a lot of learning to do.  

“You might think you know something about a topic until you start researching it. You can end up totally changing your opinion.

“As a team, we spend a lot of time together in the run up, which is great. It makes it very sociable, and you really gel. You’ve got to help each other out.

“Debating is an important part of Young Farmers. We’ve been doing it as long as I can remember.

“It’s been a massive support for us in our various careers. It’s very valuable being able to stand up in front of a crowd and get your views across, and to be able to respond to new information quickly.”

Middlewich’s victory was especially poignant as two of its members will soon be moving on to pastures new.  

Lisa added: “For two of our team, Victoria Bennion and Lorna Cliffe, this will be their last year as they’re getting too old for Young Farmers.

“Members are all 30 and under.

“It’s a real high for the two of them winning in their last year.

“Congleton were such an amazing team. We were up against them last year in the final and they won, so it’s one-all now.

“They performed brilliantly. It was a very close-run thing.”