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Mercers' Lectures 2017 - 2018

Our Mercers' Lecture series continues in the Autumn. Please join us for our next lecture on Thursday 14 September

We have assembled a fascinating array of speakers for our 2017/2018 lecture series, covering topics ranging from adventure, history, conservation, business, and sport.

Please reserve your free place by using the online booking form below.

All lectures start at 19.30 and will be held in the Memorial Hall.

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

We very much hope to welcome you to Dauntsey's for one or more of these lectures.


Autumn Term 2017

Alex Thompson, 14 September 2017

Alex Thomson is a major talent in International yacht racing. He competes in the high-speed, extreme IMOCA 60 class and has been sponsored by HUGO BOSS since 2003. In January 2017, he finished the Vendee Globe in 2nd place, being the fastest Britain to sail single handedly, non-stop, around the globe.

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.

Dr Bettany Hughes, 11 October 2017 (Please note date change from original of 12 October)
How to Make the Greatest City on Earth

Dr Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster who specialises in ancient and mediaeval history and culture. She has written and presented more than 50 TV and radio documentaries which have reached some 250 million people worldwide. ‘Britain’s Secret Treasures’, which she co-presented with Michael Buerk, was a particular highlight. Her most recent book is ‘Istanbul, A Tale of Three Cities’ which has been critically acclaimed. Bettany has long drawn attention to women’s position in society both past and present. She was named one of the BBC’s 100 Global Woman and stands on the Women of the World Committee.

As a commentator Dr. Bettany Hughes is frequently asked to contribute to The Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Prospect Magazine and The New Statesman. Bettany is a judge for English Heritage Angel Awards, The Art Fund’s Museum of the Year Award and is a reader on the Queen’s Anniversary Prize. She regularly judges for the RTS and Grierson Awards.

Steve Backshall, 7 November 2017

Steve Backshall is one of TV’s busiest presenters and a BAFTA award-winning wildlife expert, known to many for BBC TV's ‘Deadly 60’. His other BBC work includes being part of the expedition teams in ‘Lost Land of the Tiger’, ‘Lost Land of the Volcano’ and ‘Lost Land of the Jaguar’. He has worked for the National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Channel and has published three novels for children and several non-fiction works. He is married to Helen Glover, the Olympic champion rower. In 2017, they completed the Devizes to Westminster canoe race together to raise funds to protect a section of rainforest in Malaysian Borneo.

Earlier this year, and following the success of Steve’s Wild World Live UK Tour, Steve returned from his Deadly 60 Live Tour of Australia. Steve is hugely popular with young television audiences who are both terrified and delighted to watch his encounters with extraordinary and inspiring predators. This success lead to Deadly Days Out, a BBC series of events bringing live animals to locations across the UK as well as several sell out tours; the biggest single day had an estimated 14,000 people and over the last few years Steve has talked live to over 300,000 people. Steve is an old-fashioned action hero whose leisure pursuits include mountaineering, kayaking, scuba diving, martial arts and endurance running, which together with his unsurpassed wildlife knowledge, make him a compelling and motivational speaker for a multitude of audiences.

Spring Term 2018

Nigel Owens MBE, 6 February 2018

Nigel Owens MBE is recognised as one of the world’s best rugby referees. Born and bred  in Mynyddcerrig, he first picked up the referee whistle aged 16. Nigel officiated his first international game in 2005 between Ireland and Japan in Osaka and made his World Cup debut in 2007 refereeing the Argentina versus Georgia game in Lyon. He is the first openly gay man to referee at the highest level.

Awarded an MBE for services to sport in June 2016, Nigel continues to referee international rugby matches around world.

“I honestly don’t think I can put into words how incredible Nigel was. People were in tears, he owned the room and his story was so moving and authentic”

Jo Fairley, 8 March 2018

Jo Fairley co-founded Green & Black’s Chocolate in 1991. Dreamt up on a rainy night on London’s Portobello Road, Green & Black’s has grown into a $100 million worldwide brand. ‘Green’, because it was organic and ‘Black’ because it was the darkest chocolate on the market. The company is now owned by Cadbury and Jo continues to champion its worldwide success. Jo has become an established entrepreneur; she co-wrote a series of Beauty Bible Books, and in 2014 launched the Perfume Society.

A serial entrepreneur, an award-winning author & journalist, Jo is also the author of a series best-selling books on health and beauty – including the worldwide hit The Beauty Bible.
Jo is also regular columnist and feature-writer for some of the world’s leading magazines.
As a serial entrepreneur and creator of Green & Black's, Jo Fairley delivers a real insight into how to create, launch and grow a brand. She has an exceptional understanding of brand creation and development, and a talent for sharing her experience and insightful knowledge in an inspirational way.
She talks about the many lessons learned along the path to business success, including the emotional aspect of building a brand and then ‘letting go’, when it’s sold on, as well as the importance of design, branding, PR and marketing.
Jo’s presentations can also address how ethical issues are becoming more important to consumers, and how working for a company with a strong CSR programme can boost team spirit and dedication.

Heather Stanning OBE, 27 April 2018

Heather Stanning is a double Olympic champion, double World champion, quadruple World Cup champion and double European champion. Paired with Helen Glover in 2012, she won an Olympic gold medal, the first ever British Olympic gold medal in women's rowing, and the first gold of the London Games. Major Heather Stanning is a serving officer in the British Army and announced her retirement from rowing in November 2016 to return to active service with the Royal Artillery.

Please visit our review page from the previous 2016/2017 Mercers' Lecture Series here.