Balloon Debate at Eton

On Tuesday 6 October, Mrs Shilling accompanied twelve members of the Wycombe History Society to Eton College for a fun-filled evening of historical discussion. The trip began with a tour of Eton's exhibition dedicated to the Duke of Wellington, an alumnus of the school. Having never had the opportunity to study Wellington, or indeed his famous victory at the Battle of Waterloo, the exhibition was incredibly insightful - even displaying a lock of Wellington's hair and his false teeth!

Following this, a delicious dinner ensued which gave many of us the opportunity to warm up our debating and questioning skills in anticipation of the evening's main activity: the Balloon Debate. Representing Wycombe, Ama and Anoushka were defending the rights of two former Etonians: John Maynard Keynes and very fittingly, the Duke of Wellington, to remain on a fast-falling hot air balloon. Conversely on the opposing side, arguments were proposed for two Wycombe Seniors: Baroness Butler-Sloss and Lady Jessie Street and their right to safety. Each defendant was incredibly convincing and it became harder and harder to distinguish between the value of one of the principle economic thinkers of the 20th Century and one of the highest-ranking female judges in the history of the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, after two heated rounds the floor decided that Ama and Anoushka had best defended the Etonian cause and should progress to the final. Here the debate shifted in focus; the competitors were asked to discuss not their previous achievements but what they could continue to contribute to society if they remained on the balloon. Although Anoushka captivated us in detailing Wellington's compassionate and life-enhancing character, in the end Ama was crowned victorious after convincing the floor that future developments to Keynesian economics would continue to be incredibly relevant in today's world. It was a brilliant end to a highly amusing and informative evening!

Special thanks must go to the Eton History society for organising for such a fantastic evening, as well as Mrs Shilling for kindly accompanying us on the trip. We are already looking forward to many more History Society events in the future!

Honor, UVI