THE return of TEDx marks new chapter for women of Tunbridge Wells

Gatwick Campaigners

TEDx returned to Tunbridge Wells for the second time this year in what proved to be a sell-out event titled It’s About Time.

Hosted at One Warwick Park hotel on the last Saturday of October, it marked the inaugural set of talks by TEDxWomen in Tunbridge Wells.

The theme ‘It’s About Time’ was chosen to inspire ‘celebration, challenge and curiosity’, as well as promote the ability of women and girls to be creators and changemakers.

However, it was not an exclusively female affair, with men both participating as speakers and making up part of the 150-strong audience who had paid £35 each to attend.

Of the more than 50 people who applied to talk, 13 were shortlisted to take to the stage, speaking on a range of subjects from ‘thinking big and aiming high’ to the fact ‘the robots are coming’.

Other topics subjects covered upon included, guilt, sex education, the brain in the gut, and the effective art of gentle protest, alongside the male view of feminism.

TEDx Royal Tunbridge Wells founder Dan Foreman, admitted it was a ‘tough process’ choosing the speakers.

“But you get a nice blend with some ups and downs and emotional moments and some celebratory moments. It’s great fun,” he added.

One of the headline speakers was Nat Taylor, who is co-leading Exercise ICE MAIDEN – the first all-female attempt to cross the Antarctic land mass coast-to-coast, via the South Pole.

The British Army GP, who sets off to the South Pole next Thursday (November 17), discussed the challenges and perils of planning and training for the arduous adventure ahead.

She said, ‘It’s About Time’ women take on Polar exploration, which has for the last 100 years been dominated by men, adding: “This challenge is about inspiring others, not only women, to get out and find their fire. Fire comes from a small spark. It will become a fire with nurture.”

Other speakers included Joe Strong from Tunbridge Wells – who spoke about his experiences and research that went into his Masters dissertation which looked at the impact of race, gender and geopolitics and the role that globalisation on women in Ghana – and Caroline Arnold, also from Tunbridge Wells, who gave a talk on getting ‘back to basics’ by switching off the smart phone and enjoying nature.

Claire Passos, Business Development Manager at iFour design agency in The Pantiles, Chaired the women’s event.

She got involved after iFour sponsored the first TEDx. “Dan I knew wanted to do a series of spin-off events, so I got a committee together of women I knew and we made the women’s event happen, which was amazing.

“We were inundated with people who wanted to speak. We also had a lot of male speakers that wanted to talk, such as Jordan Jones, who is a black feminist who was brought up without a father. He’s fabulous. And Joe Strong spoke his experience of women in Ghana.

“It wasn’t about women’s issues, it was human issues, and we are really pleased at the way it went. TEDX is definitely here to stay in Tunbridge Wells.”

What is TEDx Royal Tunbridge Wells?

TED Talks were started in America in 1984 by ‘intensely curious architect’ Richard Saul Wurman, who viewed them ‘as the ultimate dinner party’, radically different to all the usual types of conference with ‘just white men in suits on panels’.

The lecture series fast became a worldwide phenomenon devoted to ‘ideas worth spreading’, initially focusing on technology, entertainment and design (ie TED). It then spread to local TEDxs – elevating speakers to a global stage via internet videos.

TEDx started in Tunbridge Wells two years ago with its first event held at The Skinners’ School, followed by a second sold-out event in June at Trinity Theatre.

Such has its success in the town been, the next annual event, on the theme of Discovery, will be held at the Assembly Hall on June 10, 2017 in front of a thousand people.

Dan Foreman, a global business investor and data adviser based in the town, first came up with the idea of launching a local event when he was invited to speak about Digital Breadcrumbs at a TEDx Talk in Switzerland.

“I couldn’t make that, and then I decided that Tunbridge Wells deserved its own event. So I applied to TEDx and they were very happy to support it.

“The first one, on the theme Diversity, had about 35,000 views online afterwards, and next one, on the theme Leap of Faith, had nearly 200,000 views, and we hope this one will have a similar level.

“We are going for a bigger venue next time because we have had big waiting lists for tickets. We are also planning to run some satellite events which will have a youth focus, and we are hoping to do something with our twin town, Wiesbaden.”


Other speakers:

Lucy McCleod, Head of Marketing for Penshurst Place & Gardens

Talk: Why sex education is so important

I’ve felt the effects of sexual harassment, sexual assault and I’ve been manipulated by someone whose job it was to safeguard me… I’ve dealt with it, for me it’s not a daily trial any more, but for a lot of people it still is. The national curriculum for Sex and Relationship education hasn’t been updated since the year 2000. To give you a broader concept of when that was, I’m fairly sure we still had dial-up in my house.”


Rebecca Hirst, Coca-Cola Executive-turned-Nutritionist

Talk: Trust your gut. She never lies

Spots, it all began with spots… I was introduced to a nutritional therapist and she helped me get under the skin, quite literally, of what was going on. And it turned out I was allergic to cow’s milk… My body was sending me a signal, quite an obvious signal, there was something it didn’t like… and literally started to eliminate the stuff it didn’t like through my face… That was the very first step in learning to trust my gut.


Alexandra Bond: Promotions and Events

Talk: Guilt: We are all better than we think

We are told: ‘you can have it all’, but what does that mean? Because I think we’ve lost the message a bit… ‘I can have it all, so therefore I must be a mother who is Nigella in the kitchen, who is an amazing cleaner, who is also a CEO, and recycles!’ That guilt emotion starts to come in…


Sarah Corbett: the Craftivist Collective

Talk: The art of gentle protest

If we want our world to be more beautiful, kind and fair, why is a lot of our activism, most of our activism not beautiful, not kind and often not very fair? So I want to talk about the art of gentle protest… A thoughtful, hopefully beautiful, hopefully kind and hopefully fair form of protest that we can all do.


Jordan Jones: Black Feminist

Talk: Feminism: ‘My liberation as a man is tied up with your liberation as a woman’

A son and a father are in a car, they are travelling down the highway and they smash, head-on collision, truck. The father is instantly killed. The son gets taken to the hospital, rushed into the trauma room. The surgeon runs into the room: ‘I can’t operate, he’s my son.’… Who was the surgeon?… Its his mother… Interestingly, nine out of ten people go his other dad, his grandfather, his uncle. They automatically go to a male figure… We see men as important, we see them in a place of power… why exactly is that?


Debbie Harris: Expert in Finding Care Homes

Talk: How to open up care homes and make them fabulous, so everyone benefits

There is a reason we don’t think about nursing homes, we don’t talk about them, we just want to ignore their existence. It’s because they’re our last stop. But what on earth are we playing at? If they’re our last stop, shouldn’t they be fabulous? Shouldn’t they be fantastic?




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