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Mercers' Lectures 2024-25

We are delighted to be able to share our Mercers' Lectures Programme for the 2024-25 season. This year we have a diverse range of speakers covering travel journalism, adolescent psychology, adventure, international affairs and television production.  

The Mercers’ Lectures are named in recognition of the links between Dauntsey’s and the Mercers’ Company, which go back to Mercer founder Alderman William Dauntesey, Master of the Worshipful Company of Mercers, who founded the School in West Lavington in 1542.

The Lecture Series runs annually. Everyone is welcome and entry is free, but you are required to reserve your seat online and bring confirmation of booking to the event.  All lectures start at 19.30 and will be held in the Memorial Hall.

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

Autumn Term 2024

Simon Calder
Wednesday 25 September

Simon Calder is a UK travel journalist and broadcaster, recognised as Britain's leading travel commentator.  He is a familiar face and voice on the TV & radio, whether it be on the BBC, ITV, CNN or Sky, interpreting the travel news, giving travel advice and helping you get the best travel deal.  

Simon has filmed for a number of BBC TV travel series, including The Travel Show, Departure Lounge, Perfect Holiday and the Holiday programme.

For BBC Radio 4, he crossed overland from Colombia to Panama in a series called Bridging the Gap, and tracked down the last refuge of the Inca empire in Looking for Vilcabamba.  

Over the years he has won many travel awards, but the one he is most proud of is the Hero Award from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute that recognises the work he does on consumer issues and the help he gives to travellers in distress. 

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Tanya Byron
Thursday 10 October

Professor Tanya Byron is a writer, broadcaster and consultant clinical psychologist. She has presented radio and TV programmes on memory, concepts of normal and abnormal behaviour, and child and adolescent psychology. She has also reported for the government and the NSPCC on the effects of online and social media on children.

Tanya has advised governments and policy makers in the UK and around the world on children, young people and the effects of digital media. She was also commissioned by the NSPCC to review government policy regarding the safety of young people online, and was on Lord Carter’s digital advisory board.

Tanya is a regular columnist for The Times, co-wrote (with Jennifer Saunders) the comedy series The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle, and also appeared on French and Saunders as herself, charged with sorting out the duo’s adolescent behaviour.




Holly Budge
Wednesday 13 November

Holly Budge is an adventurer, Everest summiteer and the first woman to skydive Everest. She is an advocate for building mental toughness and has been described as “down-to-earth, funny and incredibly inspiring” by HRH Prince Edward. Holly is the founder of UK Charity, ‘How Many Elephants’ and World Female Ranger Week.

Her impactful work has been celebrated worldwide, including by Sir David Attenborough. She was recently voted ‘Woman of the Year in Non-Profit’ through the Stevie Awards, listed in the Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise and is an official UN Women UK Delegate.




Spring Term 2025

Sam McAlister
Wednesday 12 January

Sam McAlister is a former criminal law barrister turned TV producer who spent a decade negotiating, securing and producing exclusive BBC interviews with some of the world's most high profile personalities.

As the BAFTA-nominated interviews producer on BBC 2's flagship news programme Newsnight, Sam's role was to facilitate head-to-head pieces with wide-ranging subjects from Silicon Valley CEOs and world leaders to Hollywood superstars. In doing so, she has negotiated with organisations from Buckingham Palace to The White House and from Facebook to Tesla.

Most notably, Sam McAlister led year-long negotiations for the ground breaking interview with HRH Prince Andrew. The first time a senior royal had agreed to such a journalistic interview, and in the midst of an international scandal, it went on to make headlines around the world and have a serious impact on the Royal Family itself.

In 2022, Sam’s memoir Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews was released. 



Rageh Omaar
Wednesday 19 March

Rageh Omaar is International Affairs Editor of ITV News and presenter of ITV’s flagship News at Ten programme. He is also the presenter of ITV's global current affairs programme On Assignment. 

Previously, Rageh was Senior Foreign Correspondent and Africa Correspondent for the BBC. He  reported regularly from Israel and Gaza after the Oslo Accords and covered the second Gulf War from Baghdad. During the war in Afghanistan, he was the only western journalist permitted by the Taliban to report from inside Kabul before their forces fell to the US and their Afghan Northern Alliance allies in 2001. He has also been BBC Africa Correspondent and presenter for Al Jazeera English.

Rageh has won numerous international awards for his reporting, and is a published author of two books - one on the 2003 Iraq Invasion and one on growing up as a British Muslim. He is a Trustee of the British Council and was educated at New College, Oxford University.