Flagship 2016 – Kingston University

A look back at our first event

Our first TEDxKingstonUponThames event started with a Facebook post. Interested to see what enthusiasm there would be for a TEDx event in Kingston, our chairman Nick Rogers posted tentatively on a local page back in April 2016. The response was overwhelming and overwhelmingly positive. Out of that post, an organising team formed with little in common, on the surface, other than a love of TED. Over the next few months as we worked together, we discovered that we had a balanced set of skills and the determination to make a splash with our first event.

The search for speakers was eye-opening, with applications from across Kingston, London, the country and, indeed, the world. Our aim was to put together a balanced line-up, with diverse topics all relating back to our theme – ‘Innovating, Empowering, Overcoming’. With talks ranging from shark conservation and the power of music through to climate change science fiction and LGBT rights, we certainly think we succeeded!

Organising a day-long event for 100 people (the maximum allowed under TEDx rules) is a daunting task and the workload ramped up in the weeks and days leading up to D-Day. At one point, it seemed that fate was determined to throw as many obstacles in our path as possible but, working as a team, we overcame them, one by one.

5th November arrived and with an array of emotions – excitement, trepidation, anticipation – we watched as our first guests began arriving at our venue, Kingston University. Any fears we had were blown out of the water when our first speaker, Graham Buckingham, founder of Bite Back Shark and Marine Conservation, gave a knock-out talk on his mission to end the appalling practice of shark finning.

We finished in the early evening and retired to the university bar for a few drinks with guests, speakers and the rest of the committee. There was a superb atmosphere as the speakers reflected on their achievements and the guests spoke about the talks they had seen. We knew then that we had started something special; there was no question but that we had to continue.

Defending Jaws | Graham Buckingham

Hands up if a forty year-old Hollywood movie has shaped your perception of sharks… Graham Buckingham agreed, until he took up scuba diving and asked – ‘where *are* the sharks?’ Learning more about how endangered so many species of shark are, Graham quit his PR job and founded a charity dedicated to conserving these magnificent apex predators.

The magic of making mistakes | Edward Relf

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take… and a lot of the ones you do! Award-winning serial entrepreneur Edward Relf talks about why failure is the key to success in both life and business and how a new wave of entrepreneurs are adopting a ‘move fast and break things’ approach.

Building Kingston’s future | Kevin Davis

How does a neighbourhood grow while maintaining its identity? Kingston – and the whole of London – is facing a period of unprecedented growth and change. Kevin looks at what that means for local residents and describes some of the challenges faced by the leader of a dynamic London borough.

Gatekeepers and role models: women in politics | Christine Cheng

Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, and now, Theresa May. Some of the world’s most famous politicians are women. Yet here in the UK, only 29% of MPs are female. Why are there so few women politicians? How do we encourage more women and girls to run for office? The secret lies in understanding the impact of role models and gatekeepers.

Stories from the future | Sarah Holding

What happens when you use time travel in the classroom? When Sarah Holding wrote her children’s adventure trilogy SeaBEAN, she had no idea that she had stumbled across not just a new literary genre – ‘cli-fi’ or climate change fiction – but that it would also unlock a more imaginative and empowering way to get kids thinking and writing about climate change.

Destination Sahara | Michiel Hoefsmit

Rain and sandstorms. Blisters. Insomnia. Dunes. Stones. 50-degree heat. Illness. The wrong food. Sun burn. Kingston resident Michiel Hoefsmit battled all these and more while completing one of the world’s toughest footraces – the Marathon des Sables. 250 kilometres over six days across some of the planet’s most inhospitable terrain; and all this after a gruelling year-long training programme.

How to build a life you love, one adventure at a time | Fiona Quinn

Living life to its fullest is not easy. But as Fiona explores, ‘adventure’ can give us the room to dream of how our lives could evolve differently, to consider what we would really love to be doing that we’ve not yet pursued. And most importantly it gives us the courage to know that we can do it, that whatever we would love to create is possible.

Grieving Aloud | Hannah Catherine Jones

Hannah Catherine Jones explores how we transfigure grief into joy through music. How does the relationship between performer and audience manifest itself through live performance and through recorded music? How do these connections affect us? The talk culminates in a live theremin performance.

Knocking the “T” off “can’t” | Syed Kamall 

Syed was inspired by his parents who told him that whatever your background, religion or colour, there are no limits to what you can achieve in life if you work hard and believe in yourself. Drawing lessons from his numerous election losses – and eventual victory – Syed’s talk is a warm and humorous look at what it takes to succeed in your goals.

Telling stories: Narratives as life experiences | Marina Lambrou

Marina examines the power of narrative in all its forms and how they help us to make sense of the world and our place in it whether at the level of the personal, national or cultural. Marina also talks about the basic story form and what makes a “good” story before moving on to personal narratives dealing with trauma.

What could be better than glocalization? | David Randall

So much of what we consume is universally popular, whether it has local character or not. But both the universal and the cultural are different kinds of conservatism. The challenge is to break those bonds. This talk is about what genuine ‘disruption’ looked and looks like.

Making art through experience | Marta Troya

In a passionate, reflective and highly personal talk, Marta Troya lays bare what it means to be an artist. Marta believes one’s art practice should start in the way one lives. Constantly seeking to leave her comfort zone, Marta’s approach to creativity has been unconventional.

“The buggers are legal now – what more are they after?” | Mark Stenhoff

LGBT people in Britain now enjoy almost equal legal rights to heterosexual people. But have we achieved gay liberation? And what of countries where gay sex remains illegal and, in some, where it can incur the death penalty? How can future activism lead to necessary changes?

Lessons of a Goat Boy | Robin Hutchinson

Local legend Robin has brought people together through the use of myths, legends and nonsense such as the King’s Soup, Surbiton Ski Sunday and the legend of the little goat boy Lefi Ganderson. His funny, moving talk demonstrates how the strangest things can build community and change the perception of a local area. Surbiton will never be the same again.