Mercers' Lecture Review: Jeremy Bowen

On Tuesday the 25th of April, we welcomed the BBC's Middle East Editor and renowned journalist Jeremy Bowen to Dauntsey's for a lecture titled 'Reporting on Conflict'.

Before the lecture, Jeremy took part in a discussion with a group of sixth formers in the William Dauntsey room. He started by outlining the details of his career before answering questions on current foreign affairs and the conflicts in the Middle East. As he was particularly expert in the Arab Uprisings, we were treated to an insightful account of the foundations of these conflicts and how he went about reporting them. Particularly interesting were his interviews with Colonel Gadaffi and President Assad, who he said was an extremely charming man. Jeremy was also asked by students about his time reporting conflicts, how he stayed relaxed in those intense situations, his most terrifying experiences and how hard it was to be impartial when it came to war crimes or crimes against humanity. As well as an insight into the reporting side of conflict reporting, it was interesting to hear about what his role as an editor involved.

Jeremy's lecture followed dinner at the Headmaster's house and the Memorial Hall was packed with people of all ages. The audience were treated to an exhilarating and engaging account of his career and the lecture was as moving as it was entertaining. He recounted stories of friends sadly passing away and the harrowing things he had seen throughout his career. On top of this we were given a poignant insight into the effects of being in conflict situations, as he had personally displayed symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the death of a close friend in Israel's departure from Lebanon in 2000. Later in his talk Jeremy reflected on his experiences in these conflicts and after being in a totally different environment for so long, the conflict situations began to feel normal, so he felt out of place at home. He especially stressed how this effected his personal life. Jeremy went on tell humorous stories from his time on BBC Breakfast with Sophie Raywoth, ranging from interviews with celebrities like Donny Osmond and Christopher Plumber to guest presenting satirical panel show Have I Got News For You. Questions from the audience followed the lecture and again the questions were orientated towards his personal experiences in the field and the stories he had covered, as well as his own personal views on the conflicts in the Middle East and current foreign affairs. It was incredibly interesting to hear that the place he would most like to re-visit is Syria, saying it was one of the most beautiful places that he had been.

Jeremy's talk encaptured the adrenaline and excitement that his line of work entails and carried the audience through countless conflicts around the world, it was amazing to be in the presence of a man who been to so many places and had seen so much.
Archie Osmond, Lower Sixth Form Pupil

We look forward to welcoming Alex Thomson as the first speaker in our next series of Mercers' Lectures, on Thursday 14 September.
Alex Thomson is one of the worlds most talented offshore Yachtsmen. Throughout his career he has broken multiple records and continued to cement his reputation as one of the UK’s most exciting sporting talents. The youngest skipper ever to win a round the world yacht race, Thomson also holds the British solo, unassisted round the world record, which he set in 2017 when he successfully completed second in the gruelling vendee globe – ‘The Everest of Sailing’.
Alex’s next challenge is to build a successful campaign to win the 2020 vendee globe.

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