Simon is a 30-year-old travel writer and BBC correspondent who travels to over 40 countries a year. He's raced across the North Pacific and North Atlantic, cycled solo and unsupported across the USA and Europe, driven a rickshaw from the north to the south of India, and paraglided solo through the Colombian Andes.
His latest project saw Simon cycling the length of the Scandinavian Peninsula for a new six-part TV series. Later this year he'll be creating a BBC radio documentary from the Marathon de Sables and Dakar Rally in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.
Armed with an academic background in psychology, a deep-rooted ambition to help others and a reverence for creative expression, Yasmin is a consciousness life coach. She recently launched the movement Stand for Humanity, which aims to get more people taking action for the world we live in today.
Yasmin has been involved in humanitarian projects from a young age; her latest being the current refugee crisis since 2015. She’s been a tireless and passionate voice for those who don’t have their own – whether through campaigning and volunteering in camps to provide aid and one-to-one support, or helping those who have reached the UK and are going through the equally gruelling asylum process.
Satwinder was born and raised in Leamington Spa. At school he knew he wanted to have a job that not only dealt directly with people but also had a positive impact on them and the wider world. Having trained as a social worker at university he chose to specialise in fostering and adoption work, first as a practitioner and then as a manager.
Satwinder currently oversees operations at The Homefinding & Fostering Agency in the south east. Over the past 22 years he’s made a positive difference to hundreds of children, young people and families. Considered a maverick due to his belief that things can always be done differently and better, he challenges the status quo and inertia that can exist in his field.
Ross has been involved in digital media for over 20 years. He's founded four award-winning digital agencies, was a founder of Virgin Games and today is the Chief Strategy Officer for Somo – an accelerator that delivers rapid, actionable innovation for its global clients. Ross is a digital advisor to several influential companies, an investor and advisor to various innovative start-ups and a regular conference speaker. He’s also judged, and won, many industry awards.
Through his passion for art, music and design, Ross is a digital advisor to LIFT (the London International Festival of Theatre) and a director of Leamington's Art in the Park festival alongside his wife and festival organiser Carole.
Following an established career as a casting director, Cheryl trained with an acclaimed Polish theatre company and spent two years studying the Meisner technique. Seeing acting from the other side reminded her of what it is to be human. This made her explore a mind, body and spirit approach to her craft, which then led her to train in Reiki healing and shamanic practices.
Alongside acting, Cheryl now has her own business as a healer and leads drumming circles to bring a sense of community within London. She’s also collaborated in forming an ensemble-based theatre company called Seemia, whose first performance Evros – The Crossing River was conceived around the current refugee crisis. Since October 2016, Cheryl has been in association with the Actors Temple as a performer and playwright developing her first play Awaken.
Cat runs a home-based restaurant in Leamington Spa called Kitchenorium, which 'pops-up' several times each month to offer affordable and convivial social dining experiences. Each event has a set menu, ranging from tapas up to seven courses, based on cuisines from all around the world.
Most of Cat’s career to date has been office-based in administration and finance, so throwing large dinner parties has always been something she did just for fun. Now, after close to nine years working in public sector finance, she’s turning her passion into her vocation.
As a project manager who’s been devising, implementing and evaluating community projects for over 15 years, Ellie is fascinated with the effect that individual and community living environments have on mental and emotional health. As well as a broad experience in transformative built environment projects, she’s spent the last three years working with women caught up in prostitution, addiction and homelessness.
Ellie is currently the Operations Manager at Kairos WWT – a charity working to improve the choices, emotional and physical wellbeing of women affected by, or at risk of, sexual exploitation. She’s also the director of AYVA, a Community Interest Company set up to improve wellbeing through restorative yoga, mindfulness and art.
Amrit (aka MrASingh) is an award-winning creative designer, artist and content creator. His notable intricate art under his InkANIMA brand has been exhibited in San Francisco, Birmingham and London. He’s also published two books and spoken on various stages around the UK, Europe and America.
Through his social initiative project NowHumanity, Amrit and his team were one of the first to livestream the European refugee crisis from the ground – broadcasting unedited, first person footage in five cities to over 700,000 people. As one of Periscope’s top livestreamers, he’s built a dedicated global following with his broadcasts reaching over three million viewers worldwide. Along with his artwork, he’s been featured multiple times by Periscope, Twitter, Mashable, Huffington Post, Adweek, ITV, BBC and Sky News.
An internationally renowned floral artist, Sarah has attained three Chelsea Gold medals for Professional Floristry and won the prestigious title of Chelsea Florist of the Year 2011. Her shop in Leamington Spa has survived two recessions and reached the national finals of the UK Flower Shop of the Year four times. Sarah’s infectious passion for all things floral has led her to demonstrate her artistry all over the world and to advise clients such as the BBC, the flower council of Holland and Interflora.
With over 37 years’ total immersion in flowers and their fragrances, Sarah was inspired to extend her design skills into pen-and-ink illustrations and is now an exhibited artist. This provided the impetus to develop a range of high end gifts for the home called Sarah Horne Botanicals. Her philosophy that growth comes from actively expanding one’s comfort zone has recently led her to becoming a life model.
A native of Coventry, Marie studied drama and business as well as beauty therapy and croupier work before spending two years travelling and working in Europe. Emigrating to Canada, she got a job with a PR firm before moving to CBC TV as a production manager in the Variety Department. She also produced special events for the Canadian Government and founded Radio Women, producing human-interest programmes.
Moving to Los Angeles, Marie assisted theatre director John Hirsch when he directed Anthony Hopkins in The Tempest. Her next job was in film acquisitions, marketing and distribution with The Samuel Goldwyn Company. She then graduated into film production with director Barry Levinson and worked on many of his films, including Good Morning Vietnam, Rain Man and Disclosure. She’s also cast a number of independent films, and produced several award-winning shorts.
Melrose combines her roles as Chartered Physiotherapist, lecturer at the University of Birmingham and Vice President of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy to help people develop healthier lifestyles. She recognises that physical activity and mental health are intricately bound and is a strong advocate of finding evidence to explore the impact of exercise on both. Her PhD thesis in cultural competence investigated how learners can begin to understand and develop competencies when working with diverse groups.
Melrose has a keen interest in inclusion and equity in healthcare. She’s one of the three experts in the successful Old People’s Home for 4 year Olds, screened in 2017 by Channel 4. The programme demonstrated how depression in older people living in a residential home can be dramatically alleviated by the introduction of inter-generational activity with four-year-olds.
TV: Channel4 - Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds
David was born with a heamplegia – brain damage that meant he didn’t know he had a right arm or leg. As he grew up, through conscious awareness and exercises, he learnt how to use his right side. But his physical disability meant he was in and out of hospital, physical therapy and osteotherapy, plus he needed an operation to straighten his foot out.
Physical and emotional bullying at school created a lot of internal trauma, so David used goals like global travelling, setting up online businesses and performing on stage as a beatboxer to distract himself from the pain trapped within. Only after he learnt to connect with himself and let go of the traumas could he move forward in a powerful way. Now working as a life empowerment and business coach, David helps his clients break through their biggest challenges to start doing what they’re passionate about, while living a life they love.
Over the last 24 years Lianne has predominantly worked within the local community. After working as a general practice nurse, then a drug/alcohol detox nurse in a rehab facility in Wales, she helped set up a project in Coventry called Embrace – supporting broken women working in prostitution. She’s also had various volunteering roles in other homeless outreach and street girl supporting charities in Birmingham, Leeds and Scunthorpe.
Lianne is now CEO of Helping Hands. Together with three paid staff and a team of 60+ volunteers, this local community charity supports homeless and vulnerably housed individuals, adults with addictions and victims of domestic violence in Leamington Spa, Kenilworth and Warwick. With its motto of “We offer a hand up, not just a hand out!”, the charity is committed to walking the whole journey with those it supports by meeting their immediate practical needs, as well as helping them move on to live fulfilled and happy lives.
Andy Mort - Performer
Atlum Schema is the music-moniker of Midlands-based artist Andy Mort. The Arrow of Time EP, his fifth studio release, is seasoned with a rawness and vulnerability combined with lyrics that bare his soul and dance with fragile, haunting melodies.
Andy is also a podcaster, blogger and part-time undertaker. A unique career cocktail, which exemplifies the kind of blended renaissance life that he’s always been drawn towards.
Gwyneth Box - Poet
Journalist, copywriter and award-winning poet, Gwyneth has lived at dozens of addresses across three of the UK’s four nations, as well as in Spain and California. While place and domesticity play important roles in her writing, experience has shown her that home is not defined by geography.
Gwyneth is fascinated by the multi-layered aspects of language that are revealed through translation and poetry; her creative writings explore the borderlands between writer and narrator, between translation and creation, and between memoir and invention.
The Ellipsis - Performance
The Ellipsis are a local young band who can be regularly seen at The Zephyr Lounge and TJ’s in the town. They've recorded at Leamington’s Woodbine St Studios and 14 Records. They’ve had singles played on local radio, Kerrang and BBC Radio 1. And they’ve also played Godiva and many other festivals across the UK.
Although they have different musical backgrounds and like different styles of music, the band have grown and developed their own unique sound over the four years they've been together. Used to banging out big rock/pop tunes, they also delight audiences with beautiful acoustic shows – which is how they'll be performing at TEDxLeamingtonSpa. Meanwhile you can hear their latest, fully plugged-in, single by clicking below.
Joe Dolman - Performance
21-year-old Joe is a musician and songwriter from Leamington Spa. After studying at Trinity Catholic School and Warwickshire College, he did a degree course in songwriting at the British Institute of Modern Music in Brighton. Now making his living as a full-time musician, Joe has already enjoyed success with sold out shows across the UK as well as receiving support from BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2. Alongside his own songs, Joe’s songwriting talent has been drawing attention from some major record labels and music publishers. Despite his young age Joe’s musical journey has taken him to lots of amazing places around the world, including Europe, Scandinavia and America. But he likes nothing more than coming home to his family and friends in Leamington.
A highly experienced filmmaker, Ruhi Hamid has been working as a freelance producer/director making documentaries for the past 20 years. A graduate of the Royal College of Art and a prolific graphic designer, she started her career with the groundbreaking BBC Community programmes unit. She has since made several award-winning documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4 and Aljazeera International. Her particular talent is for bringing the best out of people to produce intimate, enjoyable and insightful films
Specialising in international stories about Islam, women, poverty, human rights, health, political and social issues, Ruhi’s projects have taken her to all corners of the world, including Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East. As well as visiting war-torn countries and disaster zones, she has gained access to remote or small communities often hostile and unfamiliar with film crews. Ruhi has worked with diverse presenters from the most experienced broadcasters like Jonathan Dimbleby to starting the careers of several untried young presenters such as Reggie Yates and Adnan Sarwar. Next year her Music & Arts film in South Africa for the BBC 4 series ‘African Songbook’ launches the presenting debut of British African DJ Rita Ray.