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Mercers' Lectures 2016 - 2017

Our Mercers' Lecture series continues in the Spring Term. Please join us for our next lecture in February 2017.

We have assembled a fascinating array of speakers for our 2016/17 Lecture series, covering topics ranging from the Arts to defence to the environment. We very much hope to welcome you at one of these lectures. Each one is sure to prove both stimulating and entertaining.

All lectures commence at 19.30 and will be held in either Dauntsey’s Memorial Hall or the New Pavilion.

Please make sure that you have reserved your seats online here - Online Booking Form


Spring Term 2017

Mariella Frostrup - Tuesday 7 February 2017, What You Won't Find On Google

Mariella Frostrup is a writer and broadcaster, firmly established as an intelligent and accessible commentator in a wide range of programmes and publications. She is currently best known as presenter of Radio 4’s long running weekly programme Open Book, and until recently presenter of Sky Arts “Mariella’s Book Show”.

Recent broadcasting projects include “Bringing Up Britain”, the Radio 4 series which looks at the challenges of modern parenting; and “Objects of Desire for Sky Arts, a six-part series exploring the world’s most desirable objects.

She has been on the judging panels of various awards including The Booker Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Evening Standard Film Awards, the Turner Prize, the Amnesty International Media Awards, the London Film Festival, the BBC National Short Story Award and the RIBA Stirling Prize Awards. Mariella is a Trustee of The Great Initiative; a charity which promotes gender equality.

The Arts are a significant feature of life at Dauntsey’s, be it sculpture or ceramics in the Art Centre, creative writing in the English Department, rock anthems in the Music Department or a new production of a West End hit being rehearsed in the Memorial Hall.

We are very fortunate to have one of the leading lights of the arts visiting Dauntsey’s in the form of Mariella Frostrop. Her expertise covers such a wide range of topics that we are confident of enjoying a most entertaining and enlightening talk.


Sir John Sawers - Thursday 23 February, Order and Disorder - a Group-Political Outlook

Sir John Sawers GCMG is the former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, also known as MI6). During his tenure, he modernised the Service and led it through major changes in operations, technology, and public accountability. The first outsider to be appointed to SIS in decades, he draws from his experience in managing the most challenging foreign and security policy issues of the last 20 years, including the rise of China, the evolution of Russia, the threat of terrorism and cyber attack, the changes in the Middle East, and the nuclear negotiations in Iran.

He was previously the UK’s permanent representative to the UN in New York (2007-09), political director of the UK’s Foreign Office (2003-07), special representative in Iraq (2003), ambassador to Cairo (2001-03), and foreign policy adviser to the Prime Minister (1999-2001).

After retiring as Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service in 2014, Sawers became Partner and Chairman of Macro Advisory Partners, who provide strategic advice and insights to investors and governments. He also became a Visiting Professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.

As the world debates just who will be the next Bond, Sir John Sawers is the real expert On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Given the complexities of security and foreign policy today, he is uniquely placed to throw some light on what goes on behind the scenes in the ongoing fight against terrorism at home and abroad. An unmissable lecture.


Professor AC Grayling - Thursday 9 March 2017, The Ethics of War

One of the UK’s most prolific public intellectuals and commentators on politics and ethics, AC Grayling MA, DPhil (Oxon) FRSL, FRSA is Master of the New College of the Humanities, and a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford. Until 2011 he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Anthony Grayling has written and edited over thirty books on philosophy and other subjects; among his most recent are “The Good Book”, “Ideas That Matter”, “Liberty in the Age of Terror” and “To Set Prometheus Free”, The God Argument”, “Friendship” and “The Challenge of Things” (2015).

Anthony was a Fellow of the World Economic Forum for several years, and a member of its C-100 group on relations between the West and the Islamic world. He has served as a Trustee of the London Library and a board member of the Society of Authors. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Developing an understanding of, and appreciation for, the world outside our community is a vital part of an education at Dauntsey’s. Professor AC Grayling has a fearsome reputation as an intellectual and insightful commentator on a range of complex issues. We anticipate a thought-provoking and inspiring lecture!


Jeremy Bowen - Tuesday 25 April 2017, Reporting on Conflict

Jeremy Bowen has been the BBC’s Middle East Editor since August 2005. Since becoming Middle East Editor he has, amongst other things, led the coverage of the 2011 ‘Arab Spring’ and the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, for which BBC News was awarded an International Emmy. He also won a first prize at the Bayeux War Correspondent Awards for a Panorama film on the Gaza War of 2009.

Jeremy has also presented numerous documentaries on BBC television and radio. In 2008, he presented a documentary for BBC Two about the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel.

A seasoned war correspondent, Jeremy has reported from more than 70 countries and has covered conflicts in the Gulf, El Salvador, Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza, Afghanistan, Croatia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Somalia and Rwanda, Iraq, Algeria and Kosovo.

As the world faces seemingly ever more complex conflict and turmoil, the role of the journalist has never been so important in helping us to understand events as they unfold. Jeremy Bowen is a familiar face on our television screens, always providing balanced and insightful reporting. His talk, entitled “War Reporting – Why It Matters” will doubtless provide an engaging and illuminating insight into world affairs, delivered in his typically measured style.


Please make sure that you have reserved your seats online here - Online Booking Form


The lectures below took place in the Autumn Term 2016

Sir Tim Smit - Wednesday 21 September 2016

Sir Tim Smit KBE is Executive Chairman, Eden Regeneration Ltd and Founding Director of the award-winning Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall. Eden began as a dream in 1995 and opened its doors to the public in 2000, since when around 15 million people have come to see what was once a sterile pit turned into a cradle of life containing world-class horticulture and startling architecture symbolic of human endeavour. Eden has contributed more than £1 billion to the Cornish economy.

Sir Tim has taken part in a number of television and radio programmes and has been the subject of ‘This is Your Life’ and a guest on ‘Desert Island Discs’. He is the author of books about both Heligan and Eden, and he has contributed to publications on a wide variety of subjects.

Environmental issues are high on the agenda at Dauntsey’s and much of the School’s environmental projects are championed by ‘The Big Green Thing’, a pupil society set up to raise awareness of green issues. The society puts a lot of time and effort into creating campaigns which highlight green issues and encourages others to become more aware of their impact on the environment.

Old Dauntseian Richard Sandbrook was a Non-Executive Director of the Eden project and a close friend and advisor to Sir Tim Smit. We are thrilled to be welcoming Sir Tim to the School and hearing his lecture entitled “The Eden Project and Beyond”.


Lucy Hawking - Wednesday 12 October 2016

Lucy Hawking uses story-telling to help audiences understand and engage with science. She is the creator of the George Greenby books, a series of adventure stories which use dramatic story-telling to explain complex science to young audiences. Lucy has collaborated with several distinguished scientists on the George Greenby series, including her well-known father, the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. In 2015, Lucy was made a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in recognition of the work she has done in explaining science to a young audience.

Lucy is a trustee of the Autism Research Trust which supports the work of Cambridge neuroscientist Simon Baron Cohen and his team, investigating the causes of autism. She has many other charitable interests and seeks to support people and their families with autism and Motor Neurone Disease.

Lucy is one of few people worldwide whose childhood has been made into an Oscar winning movie. She is played in the film “Theory of Everything” by young actress Rafaela Chapman.

Dauntsey’s prides itself on creating a stimulating and dynamic learning environment and aims to provide lessons that are modern, inspiring and varied. We have long admired Lucy Hawking’s wonderful books which have made science so much more accessible to pupils and they are always very popular in our library. We are very excited to have Lucy coming to the School – her lecture is headed “The Great Cosmic Adventure” – which sounds intriguing!


Sarah Outen  - Wednesday 9 November 2016: “Dare to Do”

Sarah Outen MBE is a world-record breaking adventurer, published author and inspirational speaker.

Sarah rowed into the Guiness Book of Records aged 24 with her world-first 124 day solo row across the Indian Ocean, an achievement which earned her an MBE and also became the subject of her first book, “A Dip in the Ocean: Rowing Solo Across the Indian”. Her latest expedition ‘London2London: Via the World’ was a multi-year bid to loop the planet using a rowing boat, a bike and a kayak. The never-before attempted route involved rowing the two toughest ocean routes in the world during which she became the first person to row solo from Japan to Alaska.

Pupils at Dauntsey's are encouraged to develop a strong spirit of adventure and the School provides a wide variety of adventurous pursuits. A particular highlight of the year for Lower Sixth pupils is the infamous DW – the Devizes to Westminster race, known as the “Canoeists Everest”. We believe that what you learn outside the classroom can have a profound effect on the development of your character and your entire future.

Someone who embodies this belief is Old Dauntseian Guin Batten who won an Olympic silver medal at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and three years later broke the world record for crossing the English Channel. In 2010 she became the first person to row solo across the Maldives‟ equatorial Zero Degree Channel.

We look forward to meeting another adventurer in the form of Sarah Outen and hearing more about her exciting expeditions.

Please make sure that you have reserved your seats online here - Online Booking Form