x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Dreams to Reality

This event occurred on
April 15, 2016
8:30am - 5:30pm BST
(UTC +1hr)
Exeter, Devon
United Kingdom

In 2016, we want to encapsulate the idea of movement… that grappling with humanity’s toughest questions requires first a vision, a dream, and then action.

TED and TEDxExeter are devoted to ideas worth spreading. But why are those ideas worth spreading? Because they might spark a new way of looking at the world in our audience, or they might generate a new connection, or offer a new perspective on a complex issue. But ultimately because they are about creating a better world, a better future.

Without a dream, people struggle to keep on keeping on: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18a). But dreams by themselves are ineffectual, just “pretty bubbles in the air” that “fade and die” (Dean Martin). They need grounding in reality and dedicated action.

We are delighted that so many of our talks in previous TEDxExeter events have incorporated healthy doses of dreaming and realism, and that so many of our team, sponsors and delegates have caught the dreams and helped to create new realities.

As we dream TEDxExeter 2016 and curate all the talks and performances into reality next April, we might have some inkling of the sorts of seeds they might release into the world. But we can’t plan for our audiences, how those seeds might disperse and where they might land, and who else might be involved in watering and feeding them and nurturing the tiny shoots to fruiting plants.

So we invite you to dream dreams alongside us, dreams that are not bubbles but seeds, dreams that through action will one day become reality. And do join us on the day!

Exeter Northcott Theatre
Stocker Road
Exeter, Devon, EX4 4QB
United Kingdom
See more ­T­E­Dx­Exeter events


Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Abbie McGregor

Abbie McGregor is a first year student at Exeter College studying law, biology, critical thinking, English literature and English language. She hopes to have a career in law after her degree. She is passionate about inspiration and drives herself, as well as others, to do their absolute best.

Alan Smith

Data Visualisation Editor, Financial Times, UK
Alan Smith is Data Visualisation Editor at The Financial Times. He works with the graphics, interactive and statistics teams to breathe new life into how data is presented online and in print. Alan recently joined The FT from the Office for National Statistics where he was Head of Digital Content and created the ONS’s Data Visualisation Centre.

Alex Holmes

Head of the Anti-Bullying Campaign at The Diana Award.
Alex Holmes is Head of the Anti-Bullying Campaign at The Diana Award. He received a Diana Award in 2004 for tackling bullying in his school and community, having been bullied himself. Under his leadership the Anti-Bullying Campaign has trained more than 16,000 Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in over 2,000 schools across the UK and Ireland since 2011. There are plans to expand the campaign into Europe. Alex regularly works with bullied, bullies and bystanders to develop a whole school community holistic approach and works with a number of families to give bespoke support, intervention and advice. He is Vice-Chair of England’s National Anti-Bullying Alliance and a regular media commentator on bullying and has featured in a number of documentaries on teen issues.

Anna Frost

Ultra runner, ambassador for SisuGirls
Anna Frost is an ultrarunner and an ambassador for SisuGirls. She has travelled the world for the past 10 years, racing on mountain trails, exploring new environments, competing in new inspiring races and meeting people from exotic cultures. She aspires to be the very best athlete she can, to share her experience and inspiration and reach for new levels of holistic challenges. She aims never to stop learning, or to forget that we have one life, with just one limit, our own.

Cormac Russell

Managing director of Nurture Development, the leading Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) organisation in Europe, and faculty member of the ABCD Institute in the US.
Cormac Russell is Managing Director of Nurture Development, the leading Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) organisation in Europe, and faculty member of the ABCD Institute at Northwestern University, Illinois. He works with local communities, NGOs and governments on asset-based community development and other strengths-based approaches, in four continents. Cormac served on the UK Government’s Expert Reference Group on Community Organising and Communities First during its term in 2011-12. His book “Asset Based Community Development (ABCD): Looking Back to Look Forward” was published in 2015.

Danny Dorling

Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford
Danny Dorling is Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford and grew up in Oxford. He went to Cheney School and then ‘up’ to the University in Newcastle upon Tyne. He has worked in Newcastle, Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield and down in New Zealand. With a group of colleagues he helped create the website worldmapper.org which shows who has most and least in the world. His work concerns issues of housing, health, employment, education and poverty. Recent books include “Inequality and the 1%”, and in 2015 “Injustice: why social inequality still persists”. Much of his work is available on open access at dannydorling.org.

Deeyah Khan

Critically acclaimed music producer and Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director.
Deeyah Khan is a critically acclaimed music producer and Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director. Her work highlights human rights, women’s voices and freedom of expression. Her skill as a multidisciplinary artist led her to music and film as the language for her social activism. Born in Norway to immigrant parents of Pashtun and Punjabi ancestry, the experience of living between different cultures, both the challenges and the beauty, dominates her artistic vision. Her 2012 multi-award winning documentary Banaz: A Love Story chronicles the life and death of Banaz Mahmod, a young British Kurdish woman killed in 2006 in London. This murder was a so-called honour killing by her family. Deeyah’s second film Jihad involved two years of interviews and filming with Islamic extremists, convicted terrorists and former jihadis. Deeyah has received several awards for her work supporting freedom of expression, human rights and peace, including the Ossietzky prize by Norwegi

Fiona McNae

Co-founder and CEO of Space Doctors, an international consultancy specialising in strategic cultural and semiotic insight for brands.
Fi McNae is the co-founder and CEO of Space Doctors, an international consultancy specialising in strategic cultural and semiotic insight for brands. She has had an important role in bringing academic semiotics into the commercial sphere, using cultural and semiotic techniques in brand strategy, new product development and communications. Space Doctors is focused on making client teams both informed enough and brave enough to make a positive difference to culture and society through their activities, and to use their brands to this end in a more purposeful and imaginative fashion. Fi also has a doctorate in molecular toxicology and an MBA specialising in marketing effectiveness and agency accountability.

Giles Duley

Humanitarian photographer
Giles Duley is an award-winning photographer of conflicts across the world. After working as a successful fashion and music photographer for ten years, he decided to abandon photography and began work as a full-time carer. It was in this role that he rediscovered his craft and its power to tell the stories of those without a voice. In 2000, he returned to photography to document the work of NGOs and the stories of those affected by conflict. In 2011, Duley lost both legs and his left arm after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan. He was told he would never walk again and that his career was over. However, he returned to work less than 18 months later. He has since documented stories in Lebanon and Jordan, and his return to Afghanistan in October 2012 to complete his original assignment was the feature of the award-winning documentary “Walking Wounded: Return to the Frontline”.

Lindsay Levin

Founder of Leaders' Quest
Lindsay spent the first fifteen years of her career building entrepreneurial companies. In 2001 she founded Leaders’ Quest as her ‘last start-up’. She works to connect leaders from all disciplines and sectors and explore solutions to some of the big issues in the world today. Currently, much of her time is spent working with corporate CEOs and their leadership teams on the role and purpose of business, company values and culture change. She is passionate about bridging divides – between cultures, perspectives and opposing voices. She also works extensively with leaders from non-profit institutions and NGOs and in 2004 founded the Leaders’ Quest Foundation to build leadership capacity in grassroots communities. From 2008 - 2012 Lindsay was Chair of the International Steering Committee of OneVoice, working to amplify the voices of Israelis and Palestinians committed to peaceful coexistence. Her book, “Invisible Giants: changing the world one step at a time”, was published in 2013.

Manwar Ali

Chief executive of Muslim educational charity JIMAS
Muhammad Manwar Ali is the chief executive of Muslim educational charity JIMAS which pioneered Zakat distribution in the UK. He is chaplain for University Campus Suffolk, Suffolk New College, and the Ipswich Hospital; a member of the Local Scrutiny & Involvement Panel for the Crown Prosecution Service in East England; a member of the Police Crime Panel for the Suffolk Police & Crime Commissioner; and a member of the Suffolk Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education. Manwar Ali has more than 30 years experience teaching Islam and is one of the few scholars in the UK who has been directly involved in Jihad. He fought in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Burma.

Marcus Lyon

Internationally acclaimed photographer, artist, social entrepreneur
Marcus Lyon is a British artist. He began his career with Amnesty International and The International Children’s Trust photographing street children in Latin America, Africa and Asia. He has an international reputation as a conceptual landscape and portraiture artist and has photographed notable public figures including the last four British Prime Ministers and Queen Elizabeth II. His most recent bodies of work on urban expansion, Brazilian national identity, mass migration and modern dance have been shown globally. Marcus is also a committed social entrepreneur. He currently serves on the boards of Somerset House and Leader’s Quest, and is a founder ambassador for The Consortium for Street Children, Photovoice, BLESMA and Home Start.

Matt Harvey

Performance poet
Poet and lyricist Matt Harvey was first official Poet-n-Residence at the Wimbledon Championships (“brilliant” the New Yorker) and has been commissioned by – among others – the Science Museum, the Open University and the Energy Ombudsman. He has been a familiar voice on Radio 4 since 2001 when he co-wrote and co-starred in One Night Stanza. He also served seven years as regular poet on Saturday Live, hosted two series of The Wondermentalist Cabaret and wrote and performed the adventures of superhero Empath Man. Matt is the author of The Hole in the Sum of my Parts, Where Earwigs Dare and Mindless Body Spineless Mind and two picture books for children, Shopping With Dad and Beastie and the Boys. With composer Stephen Deazley he collaborated on children’s song cycles A Little Book of Monsters and The Songbook of Unsingable Songs and with Thomas Hewitt Jones he wrote The Same Flame and the hit musical Rumpelstiltskin.

Matthew Owen

Rainforest activist
Matthew set-up Cool Earth in 2007 to work with indigenous communities keep their rainforest standing. Cool Earth now works throughout the tropics and has put 500,000 acres of endangered forest our of reach of loggers. Matthew has run a childcare charity, managed a research group and spent 15 years in investment banking. He now lives in Falmouth with three daughters. -- TEDxExeter 2015 took the long view both back into the past and ahead into the future. We asked our speakers to help us understand the challenges that face us now - how they shape the way we live, make decisions, and innovate. Video Production Chromatrope (http://chromatrope.co.uk/) Production Manager Andy Robertson (http://www.youtube.com/familygamertv)

Pragna Patel

Advocate and campaigner on race, gender and religion, Director of Southall Black Sisters
Pragna Patel is a founding member and director of the Southall Black Sisters advocacy and campaigning centre. She has over 30 years of experience in advocacy, policy and campaigning work with some of the most marginalised women in British society. She has been in the forefront of key case and campaigning milestones in the history of Southall Black Sisters and is also a founding member of Women Against Fundamentalism, which formed in the aftermath of the Rushdie Affair in 1989, to address the rise of religious fundamentalism in all religions and its specific control of women. Pragna has written extensively on race, gender and religion.

Usman Haque

Architect, founding partner of Umbrellium, designs and builds technological tools to support citizen empowerment and high-impact engagement in cities
Usman Haque is founding partner of Umbrellium (formerly Haque Design and Research) and founder of Thingful, a search engine for the Internet of Things. Trained as an architect, he has created responsive environments, interactive installations, digital interface devices and dozens of mass-participation initiatives throughout the world. His skills include the design and engineering of both physical spaces and the software and systems that bring them to life. He is currently teaching “Participatory systems for networked urban environments” at the Bartlett School of Architecture. He received the 2008 Design of the Year Award (interactive) from the UK Design Museum, a World Technology Award (art) in 2009, the Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence prize and the Asia Digital Art Award Grand Prize.

Zia Nath

Sufi dancer
Zia has practised the Sacred Dances of Ancient Indian and Esoteric Sufi Temples for more than two decades in pursuit of an inner calling. In 2007, she established her dance company and show Sufi Splendour, which weaves a tapestry of lyrical Odissi Indian dances and Sufi whirling embossed with the poetry of Mevlana Rumi. Zia has presented Sufi Splendour at festivals and events in India, China and the United Arab Emirates. Zia is of Indian origin and lives and works in Mumbai. She also teaches the Sufi and Gurdjieff Sacred Dances that originate from the ancient secret sufi temples of the Middle East. She has been a Craniosacral Therapist by profession since 1999.

Organizing team


Exeter, United Kingdom
  • Andy Robertson
  • Cathy Debenham
  • Clare Bryden
  • Clive Chilvers
  • Dominic Course
  • Ed Bird
    Team member
  • Jackie Bagnall
    Team member
  • Niall Robinson
  • Oriana Ascanio
  • Sarah Bailey
    Team member