Mirthy Talk Catalogue

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£50

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£150

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  • Live Q&A with speaker

Art and Literature

William Morris & the Arts & Crafts Movement

Talk Description

Mark Lewis celebrates the life and work of this illustrious poet, artist and social reformer, who pioneered a movement that reacted against the soulless machine production of the Industrial Revolution. Morris attempted to promote joyful labour, the enjoyment of fine craftsmanship and simplicity of expression.

Talk length - 32 minutes.

Mark Lewis

Mark is a freelance artist, designer-silversmith and semi-retired university lecturer. Until the summer of 2009, he was a Principal Lecturer in the Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design at London Met University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Horners. Mark has a particular interest in unusual local customs and rituals and in 2013 he published a book on the folklore and popular customs of the church.

The Accidental Author

Talk Description

In this talk we find out how Sue Medcalf became an accidental author! Her series of books came from a conversation with her sister, who had badgers digging up her back garden and she asked if she knew how to discourage them from digging!! After a lot of research on badgers Sue became hooked on them and the Itchybald Scratchet character was born!

Talk length - 33 minutes.

Sue Medcalf

Sue Medcalf is an accidental author of a series of books about a badger called Itchybald Scratchet. At 57 she never expected to write a book and now I has seven books. The series of books came from a telephone conversation with her sister, who had badgers digging up her back garden. She asked Sue what she could do to stop the digging.  So Sue did some research on their habitat and was hooked!

Click here to book a talk!

Christmas

Santa Claus and all things Christmas

Talk Description

Christmas is celebrated all over the world. A Christian festival that is enjoyed with traditions and stories. But who was St Nicolas and how did Santa Claus come about? Who developed the story of Santa’s reindeer and when did sending Christmas cards start and why do we put a fairy on top of the tree? A light-hearted history of the origins of well-loved traditions.

Talk length - 30 minutes.

Sandy Leong

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing history to life and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She has a popular series of entertaining, light hearted talks on general historical subjects. However she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets. She is an international, professional speaker, and published author.

Tis the Season to be Jolly

Talk Description

Christmas time! A look back at some of our Christmas traditions, celebrations and favourite toys! Enjoy a few carols and a look at the films we’ve watched at Christmas time.

Talk length - 49 minutes.

Kath Reynolds

Kath Reynolds - My library role allowed me the opportunity to develop my passion for reminiscence work both in terms of delivering sessions and training others. Together with a colleague from Stoke-on-Trent Museums, I wrote an OCN accredited course, "Delivering Reminiscence". This course was very successful and was delivered by myself for more than six years. I am keenly interested in people; their lives and their communities - my talks and reminiscence sessions reflect a great many years of collecting stories, memories and musings from the people of Staffordshire and surrounding counties. I am always vigilant to research and verify "facts" which are presented to me - although I often share the "facts" which are clearly fiction... purely because they are entertaining!

A Christmas Entertainment

Talk Description

The ever popular Bob and Dot present a feast of anecdotes and music on a seasonal theme. Christmas songs from the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals combine with tales about the artists and an exploration of the origins of some of our favourite Christmas traditions, including how one of them was (and still could be) illegal!

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Sun Jester

Sun Jester (aka Graham and Bronwen Harrison) have been working in history and heritage education for more than 20 years, delivering fun and informative talks and entertainments for all ages.

Click here to book a talk!

General Interest

A Nice Cup of Tea

Talk Description

The British answer to any problem or crisis is often a cup of tea! If you have had a shock or an upset someone will make you a nice cup of tea. But how did the British love affair with tea start? It is a fascinating tale of adventure, taxes, criminality, temperance, rationing and a morale booster in World War I and II. You'll also find out how a hungry Duchess with a taste for a 'cuppa' established the ritual of afternoon tea.

Talk length - 42 minutes.

Sandy Leong

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing history to life and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She has a popular series of entertaining, light hearted talks on general historical subjects. However she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets. She is an international, professional speaker, and published author.

Mad as a Hatter – Origins & Meanings of Sayings

Talk Description

Some people could say that Sandy is as mad as a hatter because she is fascinated by the origins of the sayings we use in everyday conversation. There are more sayings than you can shake a stick at. For any doubting Thomas' out there Sandy will let the cat out of the bag and pull out all the stops to entertain you, with stories of how the sayings we use all the time, came about.

Talk length - 35 minutes.

Sandy Leong

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing history to life and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She has a popular series of entertaining, light hearted talks on general historical subjects. However she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets. She is an international, professional speaker, and published author.

Food of the Gods – A History of Our Love Affair with Chocolate

Talk Description

The Aztecs believed cocoa seeds were a gift from the god of wisdom. The Spanish took the bean back to Spain in 1528. By the 1550's chocolate had arrived in England and the first Chocolate House opened in 1657. The Quakers were instrumental in making it popular, the Swiss refined it; and now we can’t seem to do without it! The god of wisdom gave us chocolate – I’m not sure if it was a wise move!

Talk length - 36 minutes.

Sandy Leong

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing history to life and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She has a popular series of entertaining, light hearted talks on general historical subjects. However she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets. She is an international, professional speaker, and published author.

Hair

Talk Description

Straight, wavy, long, natural or dyed! Wigs, extensions, beards and eye brows. Smuggling, politics, religion, and fashion collide in a billion dollar trade. Discover the secretive and lucrative international world of Hair that is guaranteed to grip you by the long, short or curly.

Talk length - 53 minutes.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones has been fortunate to enjoy a variety of careers, each bringing their own unique experiences and events. A trained nurse, hypnotherapist, BBC journalist and more, they now all provide a wealth of anecdote to fill his talks with fun, entertainment and discovery. Alan is a Stand Alone speaker.

Blessed are the Cheesemakers

Talk Description

John is an international cheese judge and is a contributor to the Oxford Companion of cheese. In 2011 he was appointed Cheese Personality of the Year by the British Cheese Board. His talk “Blessed are the Cheesemakers” will describe some of his encounters with suppliers and impossible customers.

Talk length - 35 minutes.

John Pearson

John Pearson has spent all his working life in the Food Industry, primarily with Marks & Spencer. Since retiring in 2008 he has consulted for number of suppliers and retailers. He is an international cheese judge having travelled throughout Europe visiting dairies selecting dairy products for M & S. He also judges for Which? Magazine and is a contributor to the Oxford Companion of cheese. In 2011 he was appointed Cheese Personality of the Year by the British Cheese Board.

Goose Grease and Brown Paper

Talk Description

Can we afford the doctor? Of course not! A fun trip down memory lane to pre-NHS days and the kitchen cupboard remedies inflicted by our nearest and dearest! Honey, salt, onions, mustard…not to forget the snails, urine, string and cow muck!

Talk length - 56 minutes.

Kath Reynolds

Kath Reynolds - My library role allowed me the opportunity to develop my passion for reminiscence work both in terms of delivering sessions and training others. Together with a colleague from Stoke-on-Trent Museums, I wrote an OCN accredited course, "Delivering Reminiscence". This course was very successful and was delivered by myself for more than six years. I am keenly interested in people; their lives and their communities - my talks and reminiscence sessions reflect a great many years of collecting stories, memories and musings from the people of Staffordshire and surrounding counties. I am always vigilant to research and verify "facts" which are presented to me - although I often share the "facts" which are clearly fiction... purely because they are entertaining!

Tea With Mrs Cox

Talk Description

“Tea With Mrs Cox” is a theatrical talk about the history of tea drinking and is presented in character by actress Jane Glennie. Set in the early 1950s you are invited to tea with housewife and etiquette expert Mrs Cox. Sit back with a cuppa and enjoy the fascinating stories of our favourite drink along with etiquette advice and the entertaining company of Mrs Cox.

Talk length - 26 minutes.

Jane Glennie

An actor and historian delivering school sessions in Southampton local museums,
Jane Glennie has been a public speaker since 2011 and has entertained many groups including WIs, TWGs, U3As, Probus as well as Care Homes. Her talks are engaging theatrical monologues based on stories, people or moments in history.

The London No-One Tells You About

Talk Description

...is just that, the London no-one tells you about. The Necropolis railway, the lost rivers and why the Americans don’t own their embassy are just a few of the not so well known details brought to life.

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Geoff Harris

Geoff Harris started working as a teacher and taught in a variety of secondary schools all over the UK for ten tears before giving it all up and becoming a clown. Really, that is what he did. The clowning led onto other performance areas and he has been seen on a variety of stages and screens ever since. Ten plus years ago he started to train as a Toastmaster and is now a Fellow of the National Association of Toastmasters, working in some of the grandest hotels and houses in the country.

Arsenic - The Victorian Housewife's Friend

Talk Description

From a ballroom gown that floored the dancers, to wallpaper that rendered Queen Victoria's guest at Buckingham Palace unconscious; no wonder Arsenic has such a bad press. This talk reveals how, in the 19th century, this substance (which could be sold freely to children), was the culprit in countless careless deaths and also many sinister and sometimes systematic murders. Interesting and amusing.

Talk length - 38 minutes.

Graham Harrison

Graham Harrison (aka Sun Jester) has been working in history and heritage education for more than 20 years, delivering fun and informative talks and entertainments for all ages.

Stories from the Clink

Talk Description

- Which country has a quarter of all the world’s prisoners locked up?
- Why did the prisoner lock his own cell door from outside on the jail landing?
- The real escape from Alcatraz...and one that didn't quite make it!
- Did George Best ever play for the prison football team?

All this and more from a former police officer who visited many UK prisons and met many colourful characters. Their stories might well surprise you. Approached with his customary humour, let Neil guide you in (and luckily, out) of a few well known prisons.


Talk length - 43 minutes.

Neil Sadler

Neil Sadler is a retired senior police officer who can provide talks on a range of subjects. Equipment and photographs will illustrate his cases. Neil spent much of his 30 years service as an operational officer in various ranks across Sussex, working briefly in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Abu Dhabi….he even survived Bognor Regis, Haywards Heath and Crawley!

Poisons for Medicine

Talk Description

A darkly humorous look at medicine in the 19th Century. The reign of Victoria saw the development of chemical medicine from medieval-style alchemy to modern pharmacy. Chemists lent their ingenuity to attempt to provide any cure their customers wanted. Some made fortunes, some made disastrous mistakes. As the speaker points out, our recent forebears must have had incredibly strong constitutions to have survived the lethal doses of over-the-counter poisons blatantly advertised as cure-alls. The talk leaves you amused and stunned in equal measure.

Talk length - 41 minutes.

Graham Harrison

Graham Harrison (aka Sun Jester) has been working in history and heritage education for more than 20 years, delivering fun and informative talks and entertainments for all ages.

A Policeman's Lot

Talk Description

Neil Sadler spent 30 years as a police officer. Starting “on the beat” in the exotic holiday resort of Bognor Regis in the 1970s, he retired from a post in national and international police training. You may be amazed to hear who he met on his first solo night shift at 3am. Changes in police uniform and equipment and why not to be squirted with pepper spray. Also, where not to try and escape the traffic cops in one European country and a novel use for a policeman’s helmet.

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Neil Sadler

Neil Sadler is a retired senior police officer who can provide talks on a range of subjects. Equipment and photographs will illustrate his cases. Neil spent much of his 30 years service as an operational officer in various ranks across Sussex, working briefly in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Abu Dhabi….he even survived Bognor Regis, Haywards Heath and Crawley!

Horses and Carriages in London

Talk Description

For centuries horses were vital for any kind of travel or transport, either by carriage or on horseback. Andrew Warde tells us how these wonderful animals have served Londoners over past centuries. Hear about the ‘Quicksilver’ mail coach, how to climb onto an early omnibus and discover where, even today, you can find horses in London.

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Andrew Warde

Andrew Warde has more than 40 years experience as a London Blue Badge guide, with additional guide qualifications for the City of London and for Windsor & Eton. He presents illustrated talks and walks in and around London, telling all about historic buildings, curious survivals from times past, or special areas of London life and the Thames riverside. These talks reveal fascinating aspects of London’s past and the people who lived there.

William Shakespeare in London

Talk Description

This incomer came to London to join the lowest level of society, so how did a glover’s son become the national poet of England? Discover with Andrew Warde, Will’s life while he made his reputation.

Talk length - 23 minutes.

Andrew Warde

Andrew Warde has more than 40 years experience as a London Blue Badge guide, with additional guide qualifications for the City of London and for Windsor & Eton. He presents illustrated talks and walks in and around London, telling all about historic buildings, curious survivals from times past, or special areas of London life and the Thames riverside. These talks reveal fascinating aspects of London’s past and the people who lived there.

Sunday Tea at Grandma's

Talk Description

Step back in time, Sunday was the day of rest...except for Grandma. The family would all troop around the granny's for their tea on Sunday. Best china, freshly laundered (starched) tablecloth and a good strong cup of tea. You could almost predict what would be served each week! Join us to reminisce on those traditional Sundays. Bring your own brew, best china please!

Talk length - 30 minutes.

Kath Reynolds

Kath Reynolds - My library role allowed me the opportunity to develop my passion for reminiscence work both in terms of delivering sessions and training others. Together with a colleague from Stoke-on-Trent Museums, I wrote an OCN accredited course, "Delivering Reminiscence". This course was very successful and was delivered by myself for more than six years. I am keenly interested in people; their lives and their communities - my talks and reminiscence sessions reflect a great many years of collecting stories, memories and musings from the people of Staffordshire and surrounding counties. I am always vigilant to research and verify "facts" which are presented to me - although I often share the "facts" which are clearly fiction... purely because they are entertaining!

Life of a Lighterman

Talk Description

Life of a Lighterman is a presentation by David Lewis. It describes how bulk loads of cargo were transported from cargo ships in the Docks in Hull, along the River Ouse and into the seed-crushing mills in Selby. The presentation is enlivened by audio testimony from 96-year-old Laurie Dews who worked in the trade from the 1930s to the 1980s. David sets the historical context, and Laurie 'tells it like it was' explaining, in his inimitable Selby brogue, the intricacies of the lost arts of singling out barges, unloading onto a board and the use of a warping line.

Talk length - 34 minutes.

David Lewis

David Lewis is a local historian living in Selby, North Yorkshire. A chemist by training, and a teacher by profession, a decade ago he left the lab to concentrate on his love of local history. He spent the last decade investigating the Hidden Heritage of Selby, including working for 3 years on a project largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and setting up a ‘pop-up’ town museum.

Are You Descended From a Viking?

Talk Description

Adverts for DNA testing kits are constantly on the TV-but what do you actually get? This talk covers areas such as understanding how the test works in very general terms, getting the most from the test (what the results mean) and how to use your results to overcome brick walls such as illegitimacy and validating paper resources. It also highlights the range and pitfalls of using DNA testing, particularly finding out where your family came from- Can you really be a Viking? I have tested autosomal DNA with several companies and used any of my family who stood still long enough!

Talk length - 48 minutes.

Karen Evans

After completing a History degree, Karen Evans taught in Primary schools before retiring in 2015. She has written two ‘Grim Almanac’ books for the History Press and currently write for Family Tree Magazine on all things genealogical! Karen's love and enthusiasm for history was the impetus for all her talks, be it Regency dancing or using DNA in her own research.

My Mysterious Grandmas

Talk Description

My Mysterious Grandmas is a genealogy talk with a difference. If you are hoping for a lot of serious information on the hows and the whys and the wherefores of tracing your family tree, David isn't your best port of call. What he's done in his usual laid back style is to weave a fascinating story that reveals the mysteries of his two obscure Victorian grandmothers - both women, in their day, had much to be mysterious about.

Talk length - 33 minutes.

David Clark

Born and raised in London, David Clark has lived and worked in Germany and Australia but returned to the UK in 1970 to live in Worcestershire where he is now retired. David has worked in shipping, been a rep for foreign newspapers and magazines. He's worked in theatre management, had two shops and ended up working for Age Concern. He was also a City councillor for 20 years and served as Mayor of Worcester!

Hey Diddle Diddle – History & Meaning of Nursery Rhymes

Talk Description

Passed on through the generations from parents to children, nursery rhymes have been part of our childhood. Many are veiled commentaries on political events and people in power, using subtle references and clever word play. Some nursery rhymes have it all, like a good film, royal scandal, illicit love affairs and bloodshed.

Talk length - 43 minutes.

Sandy Leong

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing history to life and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She has a popular series of entertaining, light hearted talks on general historical subjects. However she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets. She is an international, professional speaker, and published author.

A Toastmaster's Tale 

Talk Description

Geoff is one of the country’s leading Toastmasters, working in venues all over the UK and abroad. However, in this insightful, informative and hilarious talk Geoff lifts the lid off the world of formal events in his own inimitable style. Just what did the Prince of Wales have to do with the introduction of the red coat? How fast did the Alderman’s funeral cortege go? Did the bridegroom really say that? The answer to these questions and many, many more are answered at breakneck speed in this witty, funny, brilliantly presented talk. Not to be missed.

Talk length - 44 minutes.

Geoff Harris

Geoff Harris started working as a teacher and taught in a variety of secondary schools all over the UK for ten tears before giving it all up and becoming a clown. Really, that is what he did. The clowning led onto other performance areas and he has been seen on a variety of stages and screens ever since. Ten plus years ago he started to train as a Toastmaster and is now a Fellow of the National Association of Toastmasters, working in some of the grandest hotels and houses in the country.

Black Cats, New Moons & Ladders - The Origins of Superstitions

Talk Description

A belief in luck and fate are the key components of superstitions and that they can be controlled by various actions of human beings. Do you throw salt over your shoulder if you spill it? Know that it's good luck if you see two magpies together; wonder if things didn't go as planned because it was Friday 13th, and touch wood for good luck? But where did these beliefs originate?
Talk length - 39 minutes.

Sandy Leong

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing history to life and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She has a popular series of entertaining, light hearted talks on general historical subjects. However she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets. She is an international, professional speaker, and published author.

Crown Jewels & Coronations

Talk Description

Coronations create a special charisma for the sovereign that enhances the personality of the individual wearing the crown. This talk is about the crown jewels and their symbolism underlining the assertion that the monarch is special. Find out about the historic jewels set into the crowns and sceptre, hear about some very old English crowns and which crown “was all crushed and squashed like a pudding that had sat down.”


Talk length - 44 minutes.

Andrew Warde

Andrew Warde has more than 40 years experience as a London Blue Badge guide, with additional guide qualifications for the City of London and for Windsor & Eton. He presents illustrated talks and walks in and around London, telling all about historic buildings, curious survivals from times past, or special areas of London life and the Thames riverside. These talks reveal fascinating aspects of London’s past and the people who lived there.

Curiosities from London's Streets

Talk Description

London is like a free open-air museum and art gallery combined – when you know where to look. This talk will show you where to discover a nine-foot dragon, some Grocers camels and a clock that once set time for the whole of Britain. In the words of Walter Beasant; “I've been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day.”


Talk length - 45 minutes.

Andrew Warde

Andrew Warde has more than 40 years experience as a London Blue Badge guide, with additional guide qualifications for the City of London and for Windsor & Eton. He presents illustrated talks and walks in and around London, telling all about historic buildings, curious survivals from times past, or special areas of London life and the Thames riverside. These talks reveal fascinating aspects of London’s past and the people who lived there.

Drains and Sewers

Talk Description

For centuries horses were vital for any kind of travel or transport, either by carriage or on horseback. Andrew Warde tells us how these wonderful animals have served Londoners over past centuries. Hear about the ‘Quicksilver’ mail coach, how to climb onto an early omnibus and discover where, even today, you can find horses in London.

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Andrew Warde

Have you ever wondered about the huge network of drains and culverts beneath your feet in London’s streets? Here is an opportunity to find out more about where the water goes and how the network of drains and sewers came into being. Discover the story of nightmen, the ‘Cathedral of Drains’ and how to prevent a heavy drain cover from being blown high into the air.


Talk length - 42 minutes

Click here to book a talk!

Health and Wellbeing

Inside Story

Talk Description

Part 1: Taking you on a fantastic journey of discovery inside and around your body. 100,000 heartbeats every day, bones stronger than concrete, nerve signals faster than a racing car, muscles that shake a leg, why colour is only skin deep, eyes that see everything upside down, a brain that forecasts your future, amazing medical cures and the germs that defeated science. You can’t live without it, so discover the amazing facts and surprising stories of your body. 

Talk length - 47 minutes.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones has been fortunate to enjoy a variety of careers, each bringing their own unique experiences and events. A trained nurse, hypnotherapist, BBC journalist and more, they now all provide a wealth of anecdote to fill his talks with fun, entertainment and discovery. Alan is a Stand Alone speaker.

History and Mystery of Hypnosis

Talk Description

Look into my eyes! Alan Jones will unravel the history and mystery of hypnosis which dates back to the dawn of civilisation, and the modern day benefits of Hypnotherapy. And you can all sit back and relax because he promises that none of you will become a chicken! 

Talk length - 47 minutes.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones has been fortunate to enjoy a variety of careers, each bringing their own unique experiences and events. A trained nurse, hypnotherapist, BBC journalist and more, they now all provide a wealth of anecdote to fill his talks with fun, entertainment and discovery. Alan is a Stand Alone speaker.

It's Not What You Say

Talk Description

Ever wondered why you feel attracted to some people and avoid others? Most of us form an opinion about someone in just 90 seconds and rarely change our mind. But it is not based on the way people speak, or even what they say. Discover how Body Language speaks louder then words when we communicate with each other.

Talk length - 46 minutes.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones has been fortunate to enjoy a variety of careers, each bringing their own unique experiences and events. A trained nurse, hypnotherapist, BBC journalist and more, they now all provide a wealth of anecdote to fill his talks with fun, entertainment and discovery. Alan is a Stand Alone speaker.

Inside Story

Talk Description

Part 2: Taking you on a fantastic journey of discovery inside and around your body. 100,000 heartbeats every day, bones stronger than concrete, nerve signals faster than a racing car, muscles that shake a leg, why colour is only skin deep, eyes that see everything upside down, a brain that forecasts your future, amazing medical cures and the germs that defeated science. You can’t live without it, so discover the amazing facts and surprising stories of your body.

Talk length - 53 minutes.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones has been fortunate to enjoy a variety of careers, each bringing their own unique experiences and events. A trained nurse, hypnotherapist, BBC journalist and more, they now all provide a wealth of anecdote to fill his talks with fun, entertainment and discovery. Alan is a Stand Alone speaker.

Click here to book a talk!

History

A Line in the Sand

Talk Description

In 1836 a small group of Texans were besieged then wiped out by the Mexican army at a mission station in San Antonio Texas. For Americans the Alamo has assumed a mythical status and the John Wayne film of the 1960s tells it all. But what did happen in those 13 days? With illustrations based on my own research and visits to the Alamo let’s go to Texas and meet Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and William Travis.

Talk length - 33 minutes.

David Skillen

David Skillen is an engaging and animated professional speaker on a variety of historical subjects. During his 35 years in the Civil Service he ran training programmes on public speaking and spoke to audiences from 5 to 500 people. Since retiring five years ago David has travelled extensively across the UK giving fully illustrated talks to a variety of groups such as, Probus, WI, National Trust, Local History Groups and U3A.

Zeppelin - Ship of Dreams

Talk Description

Count Zeppelin always saw his airships as a means of transport as well as a weapon. In this talk we look at the heyday of travel in these huge craft. We will see how the Graf Zeppelin and the Hindenburg provided luxurious travel across the Atlantic. How they were built and flown and what it was like to fly on the magnificent but dangerous craft.

Talk length - 41 minutes.

David Skillen

David Skillen is an engaging and animated professional speaker on a variety of historical subjects. During his 35 years in the Civil Service he ran training programmes on public speaking and spoke to audiences from 5 to 500 people. Since retiring five years ago David has travelled extensively across the UK giving fully illustrated talks to a variety of groups such as, Probus, WI, National Trust, Local History Groups and U3A.

A few appropriate remarks

Talk Description

In November 1863, just outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, President Abraham Lincoln gave a short speech at the dedication of a cemetery for soldiers killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. What did Lincoln say and why is the Gettysburg address still relevant to the modern United States and the issues it faces? In this fully illustrated talk David looks at the battle, its significance in the American Civil War, and the commemorative event that led to those “few appropriate remarks”.

Talk length - 27 minutes.

David Skillen

David Skillen is an engaging and animated professional speaker on a variety of historical subjects. During his 35 years in the Civil Service he ran training programmes on public speaking and spoke to audiences from 5 to 500 people. Since retiring five years ago David has travelled extensively across the UK giving fully illustrated talks to a variety of groups such as, Probus, WI, National Trust, Local History Groups and U3A.

The Maturing of Mankind

Talk Description

The story of our development from the time when our distant ancestors just started to walk upright, to when we dominated the world is both unique and fascinating. This Talk briefly describes our biological evolution from five million years ago. It goes on to consider the maturing of our brain and the initial stages of our cultural development.

Talk length - 32 minutes.

Neil Meldrum

Neil Meldrum has been a lawyer for 40 years. Now retired, Neil has the opportunity of indulging his fascination in all things to do with ancient history and the cultural evolution of mankind. Although an amateur, these are compelling subjects which have been undergoing considerable re-appraisal in recent years. Neil's talks range from the development and the cultural evolution of early man to the Maya and Aztecs of Ancient Mexico and the Incas of Peru, areas that he has visited extensively. More recently he has been focusing on early culture in Ancient China, India, Egypt and Mesopotamia and in particular looking at early religions in these regions.

D-Day

Talk Description

Just what was D-Day like for the people at home? How did they hear of it? How did they react to it? They must have rejoiced that we were taking the war to Germany of course. However, what about the concern over friends and family in the forces?This is the story of one family's experience, based around that of Simon's grandparents.

Talk length - 36 minutes.

Simon Waterfield

Simon Waterfield is a historical writer and performer of acted monologues covering subjects of a historical nature from the C7 to WW2. These are usually delivered in appropriate costume. Simon also writes and tells short stories on a variety of modern subjects.
He has performed these stories for The Oddfellows, The WI, Probus, Freemasons, various museums around the country, various Art Organisations, CADW and National Trust, to name a few.

V E Day

Talk Description

Meet Harry Kay, a veteran of WW1, now a civilian and living at home with his family. He is dealing with the privations of a different sort of war, the air raids and rationing. Listen how he and his family experienced V-E Day. There are period newspapers, ration books and identity cards to show you.

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Simon Waterfield

Simon Waterfield is a historical writer and performer of acted monologues covering subjects of a historical nature from the C7 to WW2. These are usually delivered in appropriate costume. Simon also writes and tells short stories on a variety of modern subjects.
He has performed these stories for The Oddfellows, The WI, Probus, Freemasons, various museums around the country, various Art Organisations, CADW and National Trust, to name a few.

Forgotten History Vol 1

Talk Description

You've heard of the Great Wall of China, but do you know about the Great Hedge of India? Did you know that Rottweilers are Roman? And can you name the most destructive man in all of history? All these and many more weird and wonderful facts are revealed in Forgotten History a talk about the more unusual and unbelievable moments from history.


Talk length - 52 minutes.

Jem Duducu

Jem is a published historian and historical fiction writer. He writes and speaks about a broad range of subjects covering different areas and continents. His greatest joy is uncovering little-known fascinating facts and sharing them with an audience.

The History of Witches

Talk Description

Behind the stereotypical image of the witch flying on a broomstick wearing a back pointy hat lies a long history of trials, persecution & torture that claimed the lives of hundreds of women & men. A belief in witches goes back a long time. Anglo Saxon kings made laws about their punishment. Henry VIII brought in the first English Statute in 1542 when no one was safe from the accusation of witchcraft. But things got far worse when James I's came to the throne and the witchcraft craze really took hold. 

Talk length - 41 minutes.

Sandy Leong

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing history to life and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She has a popular series of entertaining, light hearted talks on general historical subjects. However she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets. She is an international, professional speaker, and published author.

The Kilted Tommy

Talk Description

The ever popular Bob and Dot present a feast of anecdotes and music on a seasonal theme. Christmas songs from the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals combine with tales about the artists and an exploration of the origins of some of our favourite Christmas traditions, including how one of them was (and still could be) illegal!

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Simon Waterfield

Meet Harry Kay, a veteran of WW1, now a civilian and living at home with his family. He is dealing with the privations of a different sort of war, the air raids and rationing. Listen how he and his family experienced V-E Day. There are period newspapers, ration books and identity cards to show you.

Lock, Stock & Barrel (Part 1)

Talk Description

A history of the soldier’s personal weapon, this talk explains how the different types of firearm worked, and reveals how these technological changes affected the way battles are fought.

Talk length - 37 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

Lock, Stock & Barrel (Part 2) 

Talk Description

Part Two of this talk picks up the narrative in the mid-nineteenth century, and explores how the smoothbore muskets used at Waterloo, evolved into the sophisticated weapons carried by servicemen today.

Talk length - 37 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

Destroyer of Worlds (Part 1)

Talk Description

This talk is about nuclear weapons: the physics behind them, and the operation of the weapons themselves.  For such a high profile subject, there is a surprising lack of knowledge about how these weapons actually work.  ‘Destroyer of Worlds’ will give the non-specialist a clear grasp of an often murky subject.

Talk length - 37 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

Destroyer of Worlds (Part 2)

Talk Description

Part Two of this talk completes the story, by describing how nuclear weapons are guided and delivered to their targets, and last but not least, exploring what’s likely to happen at the receiving end.

Talk length - 42 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

John Dudley and the Nine Days Queen

Talk Description

Was John Dudley Duke of Northumberland the acquisitive tactician that historians have made him out to be?  A man who put the unfortunate, tragic and undoubtedly unwilling sixteen year old Lady Jane Grey on the throne of England for nine days back in the 16th century. It all ended in tears and lost heads, but was John Dudley the power crazy, grasping schemer that historians would have us believe. 

Talk length - 45 minutes.

Dianne Mannering

Dianne Mannering's original talks were based round the royal and noble characters in her two history books. Dianne is a very popular and well respected speaker.

Mad, Bad & Dangerous (Part 1)

Talk Description

This entertaining talk is about military ideas, inventions and operations that in one way or another, failed to make the grade.  Incompetence, haste and wishful thinking have all played their part, in some of the most scandalous failures in military history.

Talk length - 37 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

Mad, Bad & Dangerous (Part 2)

Talk Description

Part Two of this talk features another collection of military brainwaves that didn’t perform as advertised, including dreams that turned into nightmares, and some of the maddest, baddest and most dangerous inventions of all.

Talk length - 41 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

Explore Georgian London

Talk Description

Explore with Andrew Warde the London of Samuel Johnson and Georg Handel. What was London like in their day and what remains?

Talk length - 43 minutes.

Andrew Warde

Andrew Warde has more than 40 years experience as a London Blue Badge guide, with additional guide qualifications for the City of London and for Windsor & Eton. He presents illustrated talks and walks in and around London, telling all about historic buildings, curious survivals from times past, or special areas of London life and the Thames riverside. These talks reveal fascinating aspects of London’s past and the people who lived there.

Queen Victoria

Talk Description

Her Majesty will visit your town and remind you about the events that have occurred during her long reign.

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Georgette Vale

In semi-retirement from her profession as a tutor and manager in the field of Sensory Impairment, Georgette Vale is now combining her hobbies of history, drama and craft and would love to share this with you. On the Live History side Georgette has created a series of one woman shows about notable Norfolk women in history.

The God of War (Part 1)

Talk Description

This talk investigates the history of artillery, and relates how the rock-throwing siege engines of the medieval world, were eventually developed into the long range heavy guns and rocket systems that we see today.

Talk length - 37 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

The God of War (Part 2)

Talk Description

In Part Two of this talk, we’ll continue the story of artillery into the twentieth century, and learn how and why ‘the guns’ came to dominate the battlefields of the two world wars.

Talk length - 43 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

Brink's-Mat Gold Bullion Robbery

Talk Description

This talk takes you through the planning, execution and the elaborate criminal chain that converted £26 million gold bullion into cash. The biggest robbery in UK history which ended with the tragic killing of PC John Fordham at the hands of Kenneth Noye.

Talk length - 38 minutes.

Ian Brown

Having presented his talks on over 60 Cruises for Cunard, P&O, Fred Olsen and other Cruise Lines, this is your chance to listen to Ian Brown without sailing the seas. Ian has recently published a book telling these and many more tales.

Sentenced to 'Beyond the Seas'

Talk Description

The true story of eight Worcestershire women sentenced to death or transportation in the 1780s who all ended up on the first fleet of convicts to Australia. One came back a rich woman, another became the progenitor of the largest living family of descendants living in Australia today.

Talk length - 46 minutes.

David Clark

Born and raised in London David Clark has lived and worked in Germany and Australia but returned to the UK in 1970 to live in Worcestershire where he is now retired. David has worked in shipping, been a rep for foreign newspapers and magazines. He's worked in theatre management, had two shops and ended up working for Age Concern. He was also a City councillor for 20 years and served as Mayor of Worcester!

The Life and Times of Edith Cavell

Talk Description

Exploring the story of the British heroine who died in Brussels in 1915. Presenting the experience of regular visits to Brussels to research the hospitals and homes where Edith would have worked as well as the place of her execution - a humbling experience. The Life and Times of Edith Cavell talk tells her story supported by photographs of existing artifacts of her life.

Talk length - 48 minutes.

Melanie Gibson-Barton

From being an enjoyable part-time ‘hobby’ the repeat bookings for Melanie Gibson-Barton's talks grew to such an extent that she gave up her 'day job' to become a full-time speaker. Many of her talks have been commissioned by previous audiences for commemorative occasions. You can be confident of a high quality presentation. Melanie's website features just some of the lovely testimonials that she has gratefully received - www.toonstelling.com

The Devil’s Daughter and Me

Talk Description

Having discovered his own family history, it’s been very enlightening to find out that he is in very good company. Allow Ben to show you the underside of Victorian respectability through the eyes of some of his ancestors who had a devilish streak. There’s Aaron who broke with his religion and his community to be with the woman he loved. And Caroline whose passions for a dashing Parisian left her in total disgrace. Then we’ll travel to Mexico City in 1596 and see what the Inquisitors make of his non-conforming ancestors there. And finally, we’ll meet Melusine herself…

Talk length - 37 minutes.

Ben Nicholls

Ben Nicholls has been researching his own family history since 2001. His paternal grandfather was a shadowy figure who died long before his birth and one day Ben realised that he represented a quarter of him that he knew nothing about. Ben's journey started with his grandfather’s birth certificate. He has have been on many journeys back through the centuries to the middle ages, travelled on a tide of documents and stories across Europe, and traced pioneers across far flung exotic lands. Ben has met some truly wonderful characters in his personal history journey, from war heroes to Jewish millionaires, divorcees to lunatics, skilled artisans to adventurers, and artists to socialites.

The Ancient Maya

Talk Description

Have you ever wondered about the fascinating civilisation of the Ancient Maya of Mexico and Guatemala? Why and how did they develop such a brilliant and original civilisation in the jungles of Central America, and why did it apparently disappear? Let Neil take you from their early development to their glorious apogee around 700-800 AD. Tour their wondrous cities, and mysterious culture which has been made so much more accessible by the deciphering of their strange hieroglyphic writing. And finally, lament their tragic downfall.

Talk length - 48 minutes.

Neil Meldrum

Neil Meldrum has been a lawyer for 40 years. Now retired, Neil has the opportunity of indulging his fascination in all things to do with ancient history and the cultural evolution of mankind. Although an amateur, these are compelling subjects which have been undergoing considerable re-appraisal in recent years. Neil's talks range from the development and the cultural evolution of early man to the Maya and Aztecs of Ancient Mexico and the Incas of Peru, areas that he has visited extensively. More recently he has been focusing on early culture in Ancient China, India, Egypt and Mesopotamia and in particular looking at early religions in these regions.

US Presidents in bits and pieces

Talk Description

Joe Mendell looks at some interesting and amazing facts about America's 44 presidents. This is not a biographical study of these men, but you might be fascinated to learn something special about these leaders of the world.

Talk length - 49 minutes.

Joe Mendell

Joe Mendell - Born in the US, lived in the UK since 1978. Votes in both countries so the governments are both his fault. Has always been an active official in sports; qualified to officiate American Football, baseball, ice hockey, association football and basketball and has even umpired cricket matches. Worked in the computer industry for 30 plus years and retired as a truck driver in 2012. Is very much involved in local amateur dramatics as an actor and director and has even attempted to write 2 plays and 2 books; both yet to be published.

From the Fury of the Norsemen Deliver Us

Talk Description

For 300 years the Vikings took the northern world by storm. In search of land, slaves, gold and silver, brave warriors and explorers set sail from Scandinavia. The speed and daring of the Vikings was legendary and Christian monks wrote with horror about violent raids on monasteries and towns. Anglo Saxon kings paid them off to leave England alone, but to no avail.

Talk length - 36 minutes.

Sandy Leong

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing history to life and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She has a popular series of entertaining, light hearted talks on general historical subjects. However she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets. She is an international, professional speaker, and published author.

Lady Jane Grey - The Forgotten Tudor

Talk Description

In Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, stands the ruins of Bradgate Manor, the birthplace & home of Lady Jane Grey, born into the Tudor family and dubbed the Nine Day Queen. This is a story of a girl with outstanding natural ability, whose strength of character & remarkable faith shine out, despite the darkness that often surrounded her. She paid the ultimate price for a throne she didn’t seek.

Talk length - 38 minutes.

Sandy Leong

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing history to life and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She has a popular series of entertaining, light hearted talks on general historical subjects. However she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets. She is an international, professional speaker, and published author.

Breakthrough! (Part 1) 

Talk Description

This fast-paced, entertaining talk looks at the one hundred most important and influential ideas, in the history of warfare.  Part One deals with the first fifty ideas, and takes us from prehistory to the middle of the nineteenth century.

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

Breakthrough! (Part 2)

Talk Description

In Part Two of this talk, we’ll travel from the nineteenth century to the present day, and review the remaining fifty inventions and ideas on our list. With less than 60 seconds to spare for each item, the pace is swift!

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

Warrior Nation (Part 1)

Talk Description

This talk discusses a number of memorable British battles – familiar and unfamiliar, at home and abroad.  ‘Warrior Nation’ will be appreciated by anyone who is interested in the ups and downs of British history, or just enjoys an exciting story

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

Warrior Nation (Part 2)

Talk Description

This talk discusses a number of memorable British battles – familiar and unfamiliar, at home and abroad.  ‘Warrior Nation’ will be appreciated by anyone who is interested in the ups and downs of British history, or just enjoys an exciting story

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Tim Barney

Tim Barney is fascinated by military history and technology, and has always wanted to share his passion. Following a career in the IT industry, Tim now has the opportunity to pass on some of the fascinating facts and stories he has absorbed over the years. All Tim's talks are designed for non-specialist audiences, and will appeal to men and women from every walk of life.

Murder, Sex and Mayhem in English Churches

Talk Description

Warning: talk contains nudity and scenes which may offend.

When we sit in an ancient church enjoying the peace and quiet we probably don't realise that we are surrounded by images and stories of Murder, Sex and Mayhem. In this talk John Vigar, who has visited over 12,000 churches in England and Wales, shows imagery from a thousand years of history that represents stories of untimely deaths and sexual shenanigans.

Talk length - 45 minutes.

John Vigar

John has been a professional historian and speaker for over 40 years. For much of that time John also taught at the University of Kent as well as for the WEA and Denman College. His specialist subject is ecclesiology – the study of church architecture and associated topics.

The Bishop's Finger - A History of Public Houses

Talk Description

The British public house started life as a Roman Wine Bar and dates back over 2000 years. Ale was central to the Anglo Saxon sense of community, the place to get a drink often marked by using a bush as a sign; by 1577 it is thought that there were 17,000 alehouse, 2000 inns and 400 taverns in England many with really interesting names that are still with us today. Tracing back the origins of the names gives us an insight into history. 

Talk length - 28 minutes.

Sandy Leong

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing history to life and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She has a popular series of entertaining, light hearted talks on general historical subjects. However she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets. She is an international, professional speaker, and published author.

The Founding Fathers

Talk Description

TBC

Talk length - 57 minutes.

Chris Forse

Chris Forse is a retired teacher and administrator who spent 33 years in Hong Kong where he was also a sometime columnist and radio panel guest. He has travelled widely and globally and enjoys travel photography and self-publishing. He is chairman of a large U3A in the Midlands.

Click here to book a talk!

Hobbies

Gongoozling for beginners

Talk Description

After 30 years as a police officer in Sussex, Neil thought this sounded just the tonic for retirement; relaxing, stress free and with the chance to grow his beard and hair. This is a light hearted journey around some of the 2000 miles of navigable waterways in a 58 foot canal narrow boat across Britain, with just a small dose of history, lots of humour, a rather wet puppy and only one broken arm...so far ! 

Talk length - 42 minutes.

Neil Sadler

Neil Sadler is a retired senior police officer who can provide talks on a range of subjects. Equipment and photographs will illustrate his cases. Neil spent much of his 30 years service as an operational officer in various ranks across Sussex, working briefly in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Abu Dhabi….he even survived Bognor Regis, Haywards Heath and Crawley!

Playing Out

Talk Description

It's the school holidays. You would knock on your friends' doors to see if they were coming out to play. Most of us played in the street. You might have had a ball, a few marbles, some conkers or, if you were very lucky, a bike! We played outside whatever the weather and often came home filthy. Dirt was good - it built up your immunity and was a sign that you had had fun! The day ended with the usual plea for "Five More Minutes!" 

Talk length - 36 minutes.

Kath Reynolds

Kath Reynolds - My library role allowed me the opportunity to develop my passion for reminiscence work both in terms of delivering sessions and training others. Together with a colleague from Stoke-on-Trent Museums, I wrote an OCN accredited course, "Delivering Reminiscence". This course was very successful and was delivered by myself for more than six years. I am keenly interested in people; their lives and their communities - my talks and reminiscence sessions reflect a great many years of collecting stories, memories and musings from the people of Staffordshire and surrounding counties. I am always vigilant to research and verify "facts" which are presented to me - although I often share the "facts" which are clearly fiction... purely because they are entertaining!

Cascades Gardens: From Jungle to Paradise

Talk Description

This talk describes the 22 year development of Cascades Gardens, a beautiful four acre garden in Bonsall, Derbyshire. Inspired by Japanese gardens, Alan Clements discusses the construction and planting of the garden in his attempt to create a natural garden for peace and relaxation. Photos of the wild landscape 40 years ago and other before and after pictures are shown. Gardening issues are discussed and there are pictures of the cascades, the nursery and flowers throughout the seasons.

Talk length - 47 minutes.

Alan Clements

Alan Clements - A speaker on gardening subjects and travels in Tibet. Vice President of the Tibet Society and Relief Fund working on charity projects in India. Always a keen gardener having developed Cascades Gardens, the Meditation garden in Bonsall, Matlock,Derbyshire. Open to the public see www.cascadesgardens.com and blog www.gardenforwellbeing.com

Click here to book a talk!

Music and Theatre

Musings from the amateur stage

Talk Description

This talk includes anecdotes about some of the plays and shows Mike has been involved with during his 30+ years with Drama Groups in York and West Berkshire. Mike also give 2 or 3 actual performances of short comic pieces originally written and performed by some heroes of comedy, like Alan Bennett and Peter Cook.

Talk length - 25 minutes.

Mike Brook

Mike Brook is a recently retired Chief Librarian who enjoys playing a bit of sport and doing “Am Dram”. He started public speaking in 2009 and now on speaker lists for WI Federations for four counties and have given over a hundred talks. Mike's talks aim to entertain and make you laugh.

London's Theatreland

Talk Description

Explore with us the evolution of the theatre in London with a talk illustrating histories of playhouses and stories about actors who have performed in them. We find out about some of the West End theatres and go backstage to see how the wonderful shows are created. As Alfred Hitchcock said, “Theatre is Life with the dull bits cut out.”

Talk length - 42 minutes.

Andrew Warde

Andrew Warde has more than 40 years experience as a London Blue Badge guide, with additional guide qualifications for the City of London and for Windsor & Eton. He presents illustrated talks and walks in and around London, telling all about historic buildings, curious survivals from times past, or special areas of London life and the Thames riverside. These talks reveal fascinating aspects of London’s past and the people who lived there.

The Magic of London Theatres

Talk Description

This talk explores the history of the theatre in London from Shakespeare to the present day. It is fully illustrated with over 120 images displaying not only the sumptuous interiors of these "Theatres of Dreams" but with many etchings of by-gone London scenes. A colourful and informative presentation.

Talk length - 44 minutes.

Malcolm Meadows

Following Malcolm's retirement he has been able to follow his interest in Music, Art and a miscellany of subjects to inform and entertain.

Click here to book a talk!

Show Business

Santa Evita

Talk Description

Eva Peron was not just a character in a musical. This talk explores the true story of Argentina's charismatic and legendary First Lady. Was she a saint or a sinner? Hazel's research has taken several years and has included two visits to Buenos Aires.


Talk length - 50 minutes.

Hazel Griffiths

Hazel Griffiths has worked as a cruise ship speaker for a decade - providing interesting talks that help guests have an enjoyable time ashore. Considered to be one of the best at sea, she has now expanded her portfolio to speak on land too.

The Magical Mystery of Houdini

Talk Description

A presentation on the amazing life of one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest, magician that ever lived. The presentation from Joe Mendell includes some magical secrets.

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Joe Mendell

Joe Mendell - Born in the US, lived in the UK since 1978. Votes in both countries so the governments are both his fault. Has always been an active official in sports; qualified to officiate American Football, baseball, ice hockey, association football and basketball and has even umpired cricket matches. Worked in the computer industry for 30 plus years and retired as a truck driver in 2012. Is very much involved in local amateur dramatics as an actor and director and has even attempted to write 2 plays and 2 books; both yet to be published.

We Can't Let You Broadcast That!

Talk Description

I’m sure the heads at the BBC said that many times in order to protect us from lewd, crude and offensive tracks, and I’m sure we are grateful for their protection. But all is not as it would seem David Clark will explain. Literally thousands of tracks have been banned - some for the most bizarre reasons. So sit back, let’s reminisce, and enjoy.

Talk length - 35 minutes.

David Clark

Born and raised in London David Clark has lived and worked in Germany and Australia but returned to the UK in 1970 to live in Worcestershire where he is now retired. David has worked in shipping, been a rep for foreign newspapers and magazines. He's worked in theatre management, had two shops and ended up working for Age Concern. He was also a City councillor for 20 years and served as Mayor of Worcester!

Morecambe & Wise

Talk Description

Steve brings to life the story of how a young Eric Morecambe met a young Ernie Wise with photos and clips. Steve tells his audience the journey they had to become Britain’s best ever double act. In a partnership that lasted from 1941 until 1984, Eric and Ernie were regarded as Britain’s best loved double act. Their career together began when they were booked separately to appear on the Jack Hylton revue ‘Youth Takes a Bow’. From then on Eric and Ernie appeared in a series of shows over the next 20-years. The duo also starred in four feature films. In 1976 Eric and Ernie were both awarded the OBE. 

Talk length - 31 minutes.

Steve Short

Steve Short has been a full time professional entertainer and speaker for more than 30-years and have entertained on cruise ships and appeared on television and radio.
He has given talks and entertained audiences of all types and spoken at many venues and for various functions including after-dinner engagements, charity events, National Trust, Rotary, PROBUS, TWG, WI, U3A.

You're Never Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll

Talk Description

From rocking in the cradle to rocking on television, Vince’s first talk covers his becoming one of Britain’s original teen idols with many appearances on top Saturday evening television shows such as the “Six-Five Special” and “Oh Boy” and his becoming part of the British rock ‘n’ roll dynasty alongside Tommy Steele, Billy Fury, Cliff Richard, Adam Faith and Marty Wilde. Vince also reveals the mischief and mayhem created behind the scenes whilst touring with his pal Joe Brown.

Talk length - 44 minutes.

Vince Eager

During his 60 years in showbiz and cruise directing, Vince Eager has collected a wealth of stories, anecdotes, tales, call them what you will, that he enjoys talking and writing about. His on-stage popularity over the years has recently spun off into the success he’s enjoyed with his book, “Vince Eager’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Files” and his presentations. Along with his performing and writing, Vince is becoming more and more in demand for his talks and visual media presentations. Such is the wealth of material at his fingertips that he has three presentations. Two are based on his early years of recording popular music, television shows, concerts and cabaret shows he appeared on, and the third talk covers his performing overseas and fourteen years as a Cruise Director on-board luxury American cruise liners.

Songs of War

Talk Description

The Bob and Dot Show: Songs of War – let Bob and Dot, (aka Graham and Bronwen of Sun Jester), entertain you with a classy touch of nostalgia. With Dot’s fabulous voice singing live, Bob’s anecdotes and the aid of a working 1934 wind up gramophone, they revisit the popular music of the Second World War and tell often amusing stories about the artistes who entertained the troops and those left at home. Guaranteed entertainment for those who remember and for those who do not.

Talk length - 46 minutes.

Sun Jester

The Bob and Dot Show - Sun Jester (aka Graham and Bronwen Harrison) have been working in history and heritage education for more than 20 years, delivering fun and informative talks and entertainments for all ages.

Grace Kelly Story

Talk Description

Grace Kelly led a charmed life - or did she? Was it the fairy tale it appeared? Hazel charts her life story from her birth in Philadelphia as Wall Street crashed - to marrying a Prince and the car accident that ended her life prematurely. New York City, Hollywood, Monaco - a trio of glamorous locations providing the backdrop to this biography. Hazel has visited them all as part of her research. 

Talk length - 57 minutes.

Hazel Griffiths

Hazel Griffiths has worked as a cruise ship speaker for a decade - providing interesting talks that help guests have an enjoyable time ashore. Considered to be one of the best at sea, she has now expanded her portfolio to speak on land too.

David Nixon

Talk Description

During the 60s and 70s, David Nixon was the best known magician in the UK. David was born at Muswell Hill, North London on 29 December 1919 and for more than twenty years, millions of British television viewers tuned in to watch him perform his true wizardary. As a panellist on ‘What’s My Line? ‘or as the host of ‘It’s Magic’ and many other shows, David was not just a magician, but a peerless performer whose warmth and wit made him a natural star.

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Steve Short

Steve Short has been a full time professional entertainer and speaker for more than 30-years and have entertained on cruise ships and appeared on television and radio.
He has given talks and entertained audiences of all types and spoken at many venues and for various functions including after-dinner engagements, charity events, National Trust, Rotary, PROBUS, TWG, WI, U3A.

The Gag Trade

Talk Description

Bob Sinfield spent 25 years scripting every star on the box, from Lenny Henry and Maureen Lipman to Tracey Ullman and Rory Bremner.  Now he tells all about the life of a jobbing jokesmith and the celebs he tried to ‘gag’
Talk length - 30 minutes.

Bob Sinfield

Bob Sinfield is an actor, broadcaster and scriptwriter, specialising in comedy. He has written for many famous comedians including Bob Monkhouse and Jasper Carrott - and likes talking about them.

From The Cutting Room Floor

Talk Description

Jim Whelan is showcasing and talking about some of the most iconic programmes in the history of TV. The problem is, in many cases, his performance was cut, hence the title. However, in this internet age, many of the pieces have been recovered and are shown here for the first time ever. Home Fires, The Royle Family, Brookside and Coronation St are just some of the shows featured in this glorious romp.
Talk length - 42 minutes.

Jim Whelan

Jim was born into poverty during the second world war and has always followed his dream. Jim worked with Rod Steiger, Anthony Perkins, David Tennant, Jeremy Brett, Ray Winstone and American Superstar Rob Lowe. Having appeared in Coronation Street in every Decade that it has existed, Jim has filmed more than 50 episodes. From the back streets of Salford to sharing studio space with stars like Caroline Ahern has been a joy.

Click here to book a talk!

Travel

Trials and Tribulations of working in Africa

Talk Description

Jenny Bowen runs a business that creates tailor-made holidays to southern Africa. She is amazed at how things work, or don’t, in the countries she operates in. Jenny will go through her highs and lows of operating in Africa with amusing and anecdotal stories including being chased by a hippo which she was trying to feed.

Talk length - 47 minutes.

Jenny Bowen

Jenny Bowen's first job after graduating as an ecologist was in Africa – little did she know the importance of this on her life. As the permanent ecologist for Raleigh International in Zimbabwe she set up numerous conservation projects, managed hundreds of volunteers, collated scientific data and wrote many reports. Since Zimbabwe Jenny has led expeditions to Africa as well as other far flung places, worked for a game capture unit in South Africa and set up conservation and community projects in Swaziland.

Bruges - it's more than just chocolate!

Talk Description

Although famous for its chocolate, Melanie sets out to prove that the Gothic city represents more than just this popular delicacy. In this talk, she gives insight into another culture, encompassing the history and geography, together with all the modern aspects of the attractive city.

Talk length - 42 minutes.

Melanie Gibson-Barton

From being an enjoyable part-time ‘hobby’ the repeat bookings for Melanie Gibson-Barton's talks grew to such an extent that she gave up her 'day job' to become a full-time speaker. Many of her talks have been commissioned by previous audiences for commemorative occasions. You can be confident of a high quality presentation. Melanie's website features just some of the lovely testimonials that she has gratefully received - www.toonstelling.com

California Dreaming

Talk Description

This illustrated talk by Neil Sadler is about a road trip across western USA…..with some difficulties along the way! Including:

- Some fascinating facts about Golden Gate bridge, the earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco and more.
- “Get your kicks on Route 66”; the Mother Road which crosses almost 2,500 miles of the USA.
- The Grand Canyon; a true marvel of the world.
- The Pony Express recruitment criteria (you will never see a poster like it again !)

Talk length - 36 minutes.

Neil Sadler

Neil Sadler is a retired senior police officer who can provide talks on a range of subjects. Equipment and photographs will illustrate his cases. Neil spent much of his 30 years service as an operational officer in various ranks across Sussex, working briefly in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Abu Dhabi….he even survived Bognor Regis, Haywards Heath and Crawley!

Motion of the Ocean

Talk Description

Hazel talks about her life as a speaker on cruise ships - how did she get into this and where have her travels taken her?

Talk length - 32 minutes.

Hazel Griffiths

Hazel Griffiths has worked as a cruise ship speaker for a decade - providing interesting talks that help guests have an enjoyable time ashore. Considered to be one of the best at sea, she has now expanded her portfolio to speak on land too.

A small slice of the Big Apple

Talk Description

60m tourists flock to NYC annually. This talk looks at some true, some quirky and some downright unusual aspects of the “city that never sleeps”. You will hear about the woman who jumped off the 86th floor of the Empire State building (yes, it has a happy ending) and why a young Bob Hope arrived in NYC wearing three shirts at the age of four! It combines facts, humour...oh yes, and a picture of Mae West, who famously quipped, “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted!" And many, many more fascinating and quirky facts from Neil Sadler.

Talk length - 30 minutes.

Neil Sadler

Neil Sadler is a retired senior police officer who can provide talks on a range of subjects. Equipment and photographs will illustrate his cases. Neil spent much of his 30 years service as an operational officer in various ranks across Sussex, working briefly in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Abu Dhabi….he even survived Bognor Regis, Haywards Heath and Crawley!

Travels With a penguin to Antarctica

Talk Description

Pen describes a trip to the Southern continent that includes stunning scenery, wonderful wildlife, a trip to the post office and a penguin called Scott.

Talk length - 31 minutes.

Pen Turner

Pen Turner spent the first fifty years of her life living in London, where she had pursued careers as varied as a librarian and a remedial massage therapist, until she made the decision to walk away from her old life, travel around the world and achieve some of the things on her ‘wish list’. Now happily settled in Shropshire, she give talks to try and persuade other people that they should go out and fulfil their own dreams too.

Travels With a Penguin

Talk Description

This is not a talk about penguins. It's not exactly a talk about travels either - at least it's not the standard 'where I went on my holidays' type of talk. It's the story of how an ordinary woman in her fifties, walked away from her comfortable life, gave up her job, sold her home, and set off to travel all around the world to do some of the things on her 'wish list' - all with a small stuffed penguin for company.

Talk length - 30 minutes.

Pen Turner

Pen Turner spent the first fifty years of her life living in London, where she had pursued careers as varied as a librarian and a remedial massage therapist, until she made the decision to walk away from her old life, travel around the world and achieve some of the things on her ‘wish list’. Now happily settled in Shropshire, she give talks to try and persuade other people that they should go out and fulfil their own dreams too.

Wandering in Flanders Fields

Talk Description

Melanie Gibson-Barton brings to life the well known and certainly the less well known First World War sites in a themed way that will appeal to all elements of the audience.

Talk length - 41 minutes.

Melanie Gibson-Barton

From being an enjoyable part-time ‘hobby’ the repeat bookings for Melanie Gibson-Barton's talks grew to such an extent that she gave up her 'day job' to become a full-time speaker. Many of her talks have been commissioned by previous audiences for commemorative occasions. You can be confident of a high quality presentation. Melanie's website features just some of the lovely testimonials that she has gratefully received - www.toonstelling.com

The King and his 14 Wives

Talk Description

Jenny spent a lot of time in Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) and she is the representative in the UK for The Kingdom. Eswatini is a little known country and people seem to pass through rather than stay. Let Jenny take you through the history and the highlights of Eswatini incorporating amusing anecdotal stories, bird and animal impersonations and why the King has so few wives (in comparison to his father).

Talk length - 34 minutes.

Jenny Bowen

Jenny Bowen's first job after graduating as an ecologist was in Africa – little did she know the importance of this on her life. As the permanent ecologist for Raleigh International in Zimbabwe she set up numerous conservation projects, managed hundreds of volunteers, collated scientific data and wrote many reports. Since Zimbabwe Jenny has led expeditions to Africa as well as other far flung places, worked for a game capture unit in South Africa and set up conservation and community projects in Swaziland.

Tibetan Journey

Talk Description

After working with the Tibet Society for many years and now Vice President, the speaker gives a brief outline of Tibetan history, religion and culture. His trip to Tibet in 1994 is highlighted with his own photographs and tales of his experiences.

Talk length - 44 minutes.

Alan Clements

Alan Clements - A speaker on Gardening subjects and travels in Tibet. Vice President of the Tibet Society and Relief Fund working on charity projects in India. Always a keen gardener having developed Cascades Gardens, the Meditation garden in Bonsall, Matlock,Derbyshire. Open to the public see www.cascadesgardens.com and blog www.gardenforwellbeing.com

Parks and Gardens in Flanders

Talk Description

A wide-ranging talk appealing to garden lovers and walkers - and arm-chair gardeners! See the distinctive style of Flemish gardening - and lots more - in this colourfully illustrated talk.

Talk length - 34 minutes.

Melanie Gibson-Barton

From being an enjoyable part-time ‘hobby’ the repeat bookings for Melanie Gibson-Barton's talks grew to such an extent that she gave up her 'day job' to become a full-time speaker. Many of her talks have been commissioned by previous audiences for commemorative occasions. You can be confident of a high quality presentation. Melanie's website features just some of the lovely testimonials that she has gratefully received - www.toonstelling.com

Backpacking on a pension book (part 1) - Australia

Talk Description

At 60 after a difficult divorce Pamela retired and decided to go back packing around Australia on her own. She bought a rucksack and a return Airline ticket and kept going until the money ran out. Listen to how Pamela got her dive certificate on the Barrier Reef, watched a Corroboree by Aborigines, watched Ayres Rock change magical colours at sunrise, camped across the outback in a swag under a bush, fossicked for sapphires and nursed an injured wallaby.

Talk length - 39 minutes.

Pamela McLellan

Pamela says she is so lucky, having 5 or 6 lives all rolled into one. In 1960, on leaving the Civil Service, she bought a Hardware shop in Crawley. From this, as a result of a joke and the BBC’s Nationwide programme in 1970, she started a business manufacturing kits for model railways and which is still going strong. The next part of her life included Back packing round the world on her own at 60, hang gliding, white water rafting, learning to dive on the Barrier Reef, climbing through a glacier and walking 17k over Mount Doom from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film. She then bought a smallholding, with no previous knowledge of farming, and raised cows, sheep, pigs, goats and chickens and sold the produce at Farmers markets and Country shows.

Backpacking on a Pension Book – part 2 – New Zealand

Talk Description

After adventuresome Australia, on to New Zealand, only to find on landing that Pamela's credit card was not working – no money what can she do? Eventually hiking through ice tunnels on the Frans Joseph Glacier, hang gliding, white water rafting down a 22 foot waterfall, bathing in hot volcanic mud and walking the 10 mile Tongariro crossing round ‘Mount Doom’.

Talk length - 44 minutes.

Pamela McLellan

Pamela says she is so lucky, having 5 or 6 lives all rolled into one. In 1960, on leaving the Civil Service, she bought a Hardware shop in Crawley. From this, as a result of a joke and the BBC’s Nationwide programme in 1970, she started a business manufacturing kits for model railways and which is still going strong. The next part of her life included Back packing round the world on her own at 60, hang gliding, white water rafting, learning to dive on the Barrier Reef, climbing through a glacier and walking 17k over Mount Doom from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film. She then bought a smallholding, with no previous knowledge of farming, and raised cows, sheep, pigs, goats and chickens and sold the produce at Farmers markets and Country shows.

Thirty Years of Travel in China

Talk Description

Former Hong Kong resident Chris has travelled widely in China since 1978 when only one city was open to foreigners. His travels have taken him to the remote regions of Yunnan, Xinjiang and Tibet and across distant borders, accumulating a bank of memories and impressions and spectacular photographs. In the process he witnessed the astonishing transformation of China from an insular peasant society to global economic super-power in just one generation.

Talk length - 55 minutes.

Chris Forse

Chris Forse is a retired teacher and administrator who spent 33 years in Hong Kong where he was also a sometime columnist and radio panel guest. He has travelled widely and globally and enjoys travel photography and self-publishing. He is chairman of a large U3A in the Midlands.

Travels With a Penguin to Japan

Talk Description

Join Pen and her travel companion Scott-the-penguin as they journey around Japan, encountering bullet trains, bentos, volcanic disruptions and a palace with squeaky floors

Talk length - 33 minutes.

Pen Turner

Pen Turner spent the first fifty years of her life living in London, where she had pursued careers as varied as a librarian and a remedial massage therapist, until she made the decision to walk away from her old life, travel around the world and achieve some of the things on her ‘wish list’. Now happily settled in Shropshire, she give talks to try and persuade other people that they should go out and fulfil their own dreams too.

A Passage Through India

Talk Description

Hazel's normal mode of travel is on cruise ships where she works as a speaker. This adventure was different - a bespoke Land Tour of the Golden Triangle of India with a few extras. This is not just a collection of holiday snaps - Hazel includes historical and cultural insights to give a deeper understanding of  this fascinating country.

Talk length - 42 minutes.

Hazel Griffiths

Hazel Griffiths has worked as a cruise ship speaker for a decade - providing interesting talks that help guests have an enjoyable time ashore. Considered to be one of the best at sea, she has now expanded her portfolio to speak on land too.

Birds of Ascension Island

Talk Description

Ascension Island is a remote military base in the tropical Atlantic. The seabirds on the island are magical and have little fear of people. Here with the aid of stunning images Dr John Hughes tell stories of the island’s history, its seabirds, the introduced land birds and the marine environment.
Talk length - 42 minutes.

Dr John Hughes

John was a professional soldier and travelled the world. He has a passion for birds and lifelong learning. He achieved a PhD aged 69. John is married with 5 children and lives in Hampshire.

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