Max Thorpe and Chris Williams

 
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ABOUT MAX AND CHRIS:

What are the most important tools in the game of life? Max Thorpe and Chris Williams argue that grit – the ability to persevere through difficulty - and resilience - the ability to rise after you fall – are the critical and defining characteristics of personal growth and human progress. Drawing on their near-death experience when rowing across the Atlantic Ocean – regarded as the most dramatic and perilous sequence of events in ocean rowing history – they offer clarity on how just a few simple steps can help you discover and engage these traits, enabling you to create, innovate, endure, and achieve more than you ever thought was possible.

Max and Chris grew up just around round the corner from each other in Tunbridge Wells and have been best friends for around 15 years. Max went to Sevenoaks School and Chris went to Judd School. Sport has been a huge part of their lives and their friendship was solidified playing alongside each other in several clubs and teams. After completing their degrees at University of Nottingham and University of Leeds respectively, they sought new competitive drive and new challenge. They decided this was to be an attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean in 2017.

What 3 words would you use to describe your TEDx talk?
Adversity, grit, resilience.

What was the main motivation for you to do a TEDx talk?
To survive the most treacherous experience in ocean rowing history, we had to navigate through a relentless series of life-threatening moments. When the situation spiraled out of control, we were forced to change ourselves. We believe our experience has caused us to develop incredibly valuable characteristics for navigating life. Equipped with both the knowledge and experience of what these traits are, it was the realisation that they are not just essential but, most importantly, accessible to all, and this was our call to action on delivering this talk.

What do you hope the audience will feel after your TEDx talk?
Overall, we want the audience to feel inspired to challenge themselves more regularly, in turn actioning real personal growth.

Were there any challenges in the preparation of your TEDx talk?
The key challenges for us is that our experience is one of such intense psychological turbulence alongside it being a relatively fresh experience as well (10 months ago). There is plenty that can be drawn from our experience and it has taken time for us to be able to be comfortable with and clarify our own thoughts, vocalise those emotions and feelings, identify the true lessons we have learnt, before consolidating, and pinpointing a singular idea that encapsulates this experience in just 12 important minutes. Lastly, weaving the concise narrative through the talk to deliver maximum impact.

Do you have any goals for your TEDx talk?
To prove that our story and message offers a real opportunity for others to better themselves.

What is your favourite TED talk and why?
David Blaine: How I Held My Breath for 17 Minutes – we are fascinated by the power of the mind in achieving what appear to be physical challenges. This talk epitomises what the body can achieve with a powerful mindset.

 
 

Ricardo Semler: How to Run a Company with (almost) No Rules – we have a passion for unlocking human potential across all aspects of life. Getting the most out of employees in business is often overlooked and Ricardo Semler sends a powerful message (with the evidence of success) about how radical employee-driven business models promoting transparency and trust can cause radical increases in performance. This is how we will run our companies in the future!

 
 

Why do you think Tunbridge Wells has proven to be such a welcoming and receptive audience for stories like yours?
We believe Tunbridge Wells has a pride in its own citizens. The local community has always promoted a message of home-grown ideas and value. An event like this brings together some of those to encompass the productive, positive and inquisitive mind-set of the town.

What advice would you give to other people considering giving a TEDx talk?
The majority of TED’s ‘ideas worth sharing’ draw their power from the experiences of their authors/speakers. The impact of recounting experiences is through storytelling. For this reason, we would say the most important thing to retain in a TED talk is authenticity. Don’t force a story to be relevant, don’t fabricate a story to gain traction, and definitely don’t fake anything. For the audience to believe, you have to believe. Your idea must already be such an integral part of your own psyche that it has come to define who you are. From this position, you will have all the ingredients to create an ‘idea worth spreading’.

Finally, what’s the one change you’d like to see in the lives of our audience this year, following your talk?
To better understand both the importance of building resilience and the way in which challenges can offer opportunity to do so. We would hope every member of the audience sets themselves a new challenge to take on in the 12 months following our talk. 

You can find Max on Instagram, Chris on Instagram, and the two of them together on Instagram.


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John Mulford

 
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ABOUT JOHN:

Today’s children have less contact with nature than any generation before them. Due to urbanisation, health and safety concerns and online play, fewer and fewer young people are growing up playing outside. Over the past 20 years, the area that children play in and explore around their homes has reduced by 90%. As a result, more and more young people are deprived of the chance of developing a personal connection with the natural world. ‘Nature deficit disorder’ is spreading.

The consequences are enormous. The best way to create the passionate conservationists of the future is to let them learn first-hand that we are intricately connected with the earth and rely on it for food and survival. If we are to solve the ecological crises facing the world, the next generation must be encouraged to develop a personal concern for the welfare of the natural world. In addition, research has shown connecting with nature and the food we eat has a plethora of positive effects on health, from higher self-esteem to lower blood pressure. 

Drawing from his experiences of science communication, conservation work and gardening, John will present some solutions to the problem of ‘nature deficit disorder’. He will argue that the solution should start with plants and fungi and will also argue that every child should have a green space in their school where they have the chance to grow vegetables and plant trees, supporting and learning about healthy living, food security and Britain's amazing wildlife. 

John Mulford is a year 11 student at the Judd School. He loves biology and is especially interested in environmental science, plant science, evolution, agriculture and microbiology. He’s passionate about science communication and sustainability and has given talks at his school about biochemistry, evolution, Britain’s ecology, climate change, wildlife gardening and more. John is also the student leader of the Young Scientists Journal at Judd, which organises talks, workshops, practical sessions and competitions for students interested in science. 

John is involved in environmental advocacy, conservation and gardening and is the founding leader of Judd’s eco-committee, which aims to reduce the school’s environmental impact, and he’s assisting the design of the new Judd wildlife and vegetable garden. He’s also helping to coordinate environmental mitigation of building work at his school. At home, John grows fruit, vegetables, trees and other plants and clears litter from his local area. In his free time, he likes to read, go on walks, cook with his harvest and identify trees. 

What 3 words would you use to describe your TEDx talk?
Provocative, ambitious, hopeful.

What was the main motivation for you to do a TEDx talk?
I wanted to share my experience and knowledge about plants and science to inspire people, especially students, to reconsider their relationship with nature.

What do you hope the audience will feel after your TEDx talk?
I hope they feel encouraged to reconsider their relationship with nature, especially with plants and fungi. As a result, I hope that they are inspired to grow plants and fungi on their balconies, windowsills and gardens. 

Were there any challenges in the preparation of your TEDx talk?
It has been challenging at times balancing revision for my mock exams in January and preparation for the talk. I realised if I left my TEDx planning too late I wouldn’t be able to do it justice so I decided to prioritise it first and then focus on exams.

Do you have any goals for your TEDx talk?
Ideally, my talk will not just encourage people to think about their relationship with the natural world and the food they eat, but also inspire them, especially those in my generation, to grow plants and fungi and simultaneously grow as people. 

What is your favourite TED talk and why?
Greg Gage: Electrical Experiments with Plants that Count and Communicate. This talk presents another dimension to the complexity and beauty of the plant world. 

 
 

Why do you think Tunbridge Wells has proven to be such a welcoming and receptive audience for stories like yours?
TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells has always chosen a wide range of topics and a diverse range of speakers. I doubt there are many event committees that would have selected a 15 year old speaker so I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity.

What advice would you give to other people considering giving a TEDx talk?
Whoever you are, just go for it! I never thought I would be selected but here I am talking about a topic I love. 


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Sarah Salway

 
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ABOUT SARAH:
Forget Sticks and Stones, it’s words that are powerful. As a writer and poet, Sarah’s material is the individual word: what each one tells us about our history, and also what we lose when we let certain ones – conker, holly, turnip – get taken out of our dictionaries. Her talk is a love letter to words – to their meanings, as well as how they taste in our mouths and sound in our ears.

Sarah Salway is a novelist, poet and writing tutor based in Kent. Her novels have been translated into several languages, and her poetry has appeared in many unusual places including financial newspapers, displayed in public parks and on postcards. She was the Canterbury Laureate, RLF Fellow at the LSE, and is currently writing her fourth novel.

What 3 words would you use to describe your TEDx talk?
Geeky, enlightening, playful.

What was the main motivation for you to do a TEDx talk?
Curiosity, as well as wanting to be part of the TEDx movement and to share my love of words.

What do you hope the audience will feel after your TEDx talk?
I hope they are interested to look at the words they use a little deeper, and to have learned at least one thing they didn’t know before.

Were there any challenges in the preparation of your TEDx talk?
Length, but I love that!

Do you have any goals for your TEDx talk?
To do it. And to inspire at least one person to pick up a dictionary and read it afterwards.

What is your favourite TED talk and why?
Hannah Brencher: Love Letters to Strangers – I use it with the writers I work with to make them think about our writing being used beyond a book or the page.

 
 

Why do you think Tunbridge Wells has proven to be such a welcoming and receptive audience for stories like yours?
Having volunteered at our Oxfam Bookshop in Chapel Place and worked with many writers here, I know this is a town full of readers. I also live in Mount Sion, and was excited recently to see a plaque to H W Fowler, author of Fowler’s Modern English Usage appear just down the hill.

What advice would you give to other people considering giving a TEDx talk?
I’ll tell you after!!!

Finally, what’s the one change you’d like to see in the lives of our audience this year, following your talk?
That everyone takes note of the words they use, and also to remember the ones they particularly enjoy and love. 

You can find Sarah on Twitter, facebook, instagram, and her website.


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Michelle Mae Raymond

 
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ABOUT MICHELLE:

When a crime hits the headlines, a light is shone on the perpetrator, their victim, and sometimes even the surrounding community. The motivations of the criminal, the suffering of their accuser, the reactions of neighbours and community leaders: these all receive publicity ensuring the world knows their story. What isn't so readily known is how all that publicity affects the perpetrator's family, and the forgotten victims of crime that it creates.

Michelle Raymond shares her story of the time she spent married to a man accused of some of the most heinous crimes imaginable, and how she became the indirect victim of his crimes through publicity and stigma. She was harassed by her community, her home was attacked, and she fell into a deep depression all the while trying to mitigate the emotional impact this had on her young daughter.

A decade has passed since then. Michelle has moved past the shame she felt for so long to become a successful entrepreneur with a supportive family, and no longer wears the label of "wife of a paeodophile". However, there are many mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives and children who still wear these labels.

For every crime there is a sprawling network of hidden victims who will never have an opportunity to find vindication in court. Michelle's story is a striking reminder not to forget them.

What 3 words would you use to describe your TEDx talk?
Courageous, inspiring and thought-provoking.

What was the main motivation for you to do a TEDx talk?
I wanted people to see the other side of the effects of crime. The indirect victims that are often overlooked but still hurt deep.

What do you hope the audience will feel after your TEDx talk?
Wow.... I think they will be moved, but will be more consciously aware of how they approach people exercising patience and empathy. They'll be more aware of what they say and do.

Were there any challenges in the preparation of your TEDx talk?
It's a hard story to tell but needs to be told. I'm strong enough to deliver this in a respectful way that will leave attendees possibly wanting to hear more but will be enough for them to be empathetic to others.

Do you have any goals for your TEDx talk?
My personal goals are for people to be more tolerant and empathetic towards each other.

What is your favourite TED talk and why?
My favourite TED talk of all time is the one delivered by Reshma Saujani - Teach girls bravery, not perfection

 
 

Why do you think Tunbridge Wells has proven to be such a welcoming and receptive audience for stories like yours?
I know of a few other Tedx speakers who have delivered their speech at Tunbridge Wells and has come highly recommended. I think any of the Tedx area could benefit from hearing this, but Tunbridge Wells is my priority.

What advice would you give to other people considering giving a TEDx talk?
My advice is to be open, transparent and respectful. It's not about self. It's not about selling, it not about promotion. It's about awareness, interest and opening up perspectives.

Finally, what’s the one change you’d like to see in the lives of our audience this year, following your talk?
I'd love to see more support given to the wives and children of convicted paedophiles. We have nothing to be ashamed of and we shouldn't hide away and fall into depression as I did and so many others before me. I'd love the stigma to be removed and for people to be respected for who they are and not be vilified for who they once loved.

You can find Michelle on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


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Don Smith

 
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ABOUT DON:

After a twenty-five-year career as an award winning Creative Director in advertising, marketing and digital design, Don began a new career as an Inventor in 2016. His first invention, the 1nhaler, is a revolutionary, single dose, respiratory inhaler, designed to help millions of people globally to receive the medication and vaccinations they need, cheaply, conveniently and sustainably. 

What 3 words would you use to describe your TEDx talk?
Inspiring, unconventional, entertaining.

What was the main motivation for you to do a TEDx talk?
My brother spoke at TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells in 2016 and I wanted to follow on his theme of ‘creativity’ and move it onto ‘Invention’.

What do you hope the audience will feel after your TEDx talk?
That they too can be inventors, and find the value in their own ideas.

Were there any challenges in the preparation of your TEDx talk?
Just the challenge of conforming a lifetime of understanding into a short talk.

Do you have any goals for your TEDx talk?
Simply that others find value in my approach to life.

What is your favourite TED talk and why?
Adam Grant on the surprising habits of original thinkers. Like my brother’s talk, it points out how creativity is misunderstood. 

 
 

Why do you think Tunbridge Wells has proven to be such a welcoming and receptive audience for stories like yours?
Perhaps the town has an interested and interesting populous, who are open to new ideas.

What advice would you give to other people considering giving a TEDx talk?
I think it’s about knowing you have value, or values that are worth sharing.

Finally, what’s the one change you’d like to see in the lives of our audience this year, following your talk?
That more people believe in their great ideas, and execute them to improve the world around us.

You can find Don on LinkedIn, Medium, and Twitter.


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Sophie Sabbage

 
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ABOUT SOPHIE:

Living with ‘terminal’ cancer for over four years has transformed Sophie’s relationship with grief and loss. Her first book, The Cancer Whisperer, has been translated into twelve languages and her second book, Lifeshocks – And how to love them, is a Sunday Times bestseller. As an award-winning business consultant, dedicated patient activist and Senior Trainer with the More To Life Foundation, Sophie has been teaching people how to flourish in the face of adversity for over twenty years. She has a background in psychology, organisational change and English literature. She is also the very happily married mother of a turbo-charged eight-year-old daughter. 

Sophie believes that Loss is as inevitable as naked trees in winter. We are designed for it, but not prepared for it. We are taught to acquire and achieve, not to relinquish and let go. But what if we can win when we lose?

Her talk will redefine our relationship with loss. It will challenge prevailing definitions of grief and restore sorrow to its rightful purpose in our lives. It will illuminate what loss can give us, even as it takes away. 

What 3 words would you use to describe your TEDx talk?
Intimate. Uplifting. Surprising.

What was the main motivation for you to do a TEDx talk?
My lung cancer diagnosis led me into a deep inquiry about the emotional dis-ease beneath physical disease. I discovered that, according to Chinese Medicine, grief is held in the lungs – a revelation that revolutionised my relationship with loss and resurrected me in significant ways. I want to share what I have discovered.  

What do you hope the audience will feel after your TEDx talk?
I hope they will feel lighter, more open and more willing to let their tears fall.

Do you have any goals for your TEDx talk?
We need a paradigm shift in the way we deal with loss, which includes failure and disappointment. We need to be expanded by it, not diminished. 

What is your favourite TED talk and why?
Maysoon Zayid, I got 99 problems – palsy is just one. I love her complete lack of victimisation. She is authentic, erudite, moving and hilarious. She blasts people’s assumptions and prejudices without defending or judging back. Much respect.

 
 

Why do you think Tunbridge Wells has proven to be such a welcoming and receptive audience for stories like yours?
TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells seems to choose themes that touch the spirit as well as the mind. Its talks are very diverse. I looked at several TED events before applying to this one. As a local, I also know there is strong community interest in learning and development.

What advice would you give to other people considering giving a TEDx talk?
Early days to answer this… but get very clear about the idea itself and how it adds value to society.

Finally, what’s the one change you’d like to see in the lives of our audience this year, following your talk?
To fall in love with grief.

You can learn more about Sophie on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.


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