Last month, global entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates surprised students by sitting in the audience as they debated some of the most challenging global issues facing their generation.

Hosted by Ore Oduba, with a performance from George the Poet and judged by a star-studded and expert panel including Jamal Edwards, Tina Daheley, Emma Thompson and Jon Snow, the event saw Robert Clack School of Science from Dagenham, London take on Mount St Mary’s school from Leeds.

The event, ‘Comic Relief presents: The Big Debate with young people’, was inspired by Debate Mate and run in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and was the final ‘showcase’ in a series of debates run by Debate Mate during the 2017 Red Nose Day campaign.

Bill Gates was in the audience, which included over 250 students from around the UK as the two schools debated the motion, “This House Believes That, for People in Developing Countries, the World is Getting Better”. After listening to the debate, Bill surprised the room with an inspirational talk focused on the progress that has been made in improving the lives of those in some of the world’s poorest communities. He then took questions from students in the audience, before Robert Clack School of Science who argued for the proposition were named winners of the debate.

Liz Warner, CEO, Comic Relief, said “Comic Relief is really interested in hearing from and engaging with young people who will live with the consequences of the decisions we make about the global future. It’s great to be able to provide a rare platform for young people from tough backgrounds to air their views. We have found the experience working with Debate Mate, who run debating clubs in some of the most deprived areas of the UK, really rewarding. We are also very pleased to host Bill Gates today and give the students in this debate the opportunity to be heard by someone who really can take these young people’s views to a world stage.”

Debate Mate was set up in 2008 to inspire and engage young people from some of the UK’s most disadvantaged areas in today’s most critical issues and to provide a platform for their voices to be heard.

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