Educator and Campaigner
Talk title: How YOU can change a young person’s life.
Aisha Thomas is a born and bred Bristolian. She studied law at the University of the West of England but switched to education in 2010. In September 2016 Aisha became City Academy’s Assistant Principal and Specialist Leader in Education for EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) and Community.
Recently Aisha presented a BBC documentary about the lack of black teachers in Bristol and collaborated with city partners to launch the ‘Bristol One Curriculum’. This aims to create a more equitable representation of black history, achievement and culture in Bristol, Britain and globally.
Andres Roberts believes a better world is possible if we could only find a way to work with nature.
He believes that we have to, for the sake of all of life.
Andres left the world of big organisations early on in his career. He set up an agency for playfulness in his mid twenties, before setting out to work with nature.
Today he supports a range of people and organisations, from Patagonia to pioneering leadership schools like THNK and the Amani Institute, and alliances such as the World Benchmarking Alliance.
He is the co-founder of Way of Nature UK, where he guides journeys to help people reconnect with the things that really matter in life. He is also the founding partner of the Bio-Leadership Project - an initiative that is helping to grow new forms of leadership and human innovation by doing it with nature.
Behind his work, Andres is interested in how to lead more whole lives and how to nurture a more whole world. These matters have taken him on a journey through learning, leadership and sustainability - and then deep into the wilderness, where he once sat alone on a mountain for 28 days, and to study with wise and wonderful teachers and elders from around the world.
Today, he respectfully brings some of these lessons back to modern life. Andres is starting to learn that we need more kindness. He is also learning how to be a Dad, a better friend, and a how to stay an adventurer.
He thinks we can make that better world.
Chloe Ball-Hopkins is a freelance journalist, archery champion and wheelchair user from Kingswood in Gloucestershire. She was born with a condition called Arthrogryposis which led to numerous operations on her legs. At four years old she was diagnosed with a form of Muscular Dystrophy which means she has weaker muscles.
This hasn’t stopped her taking on a variety of big challenges - from competing in the Para European Championships and winning the Bronze medal as an archer to most recently taking on the fashion industry! Her mission is to create clothes that help people like her feel comfortable and fashionable whilst being in a wheelchair all day.
Even something as simple as having a handy pocket to put your phone would help. The industry doesn’t seem to have cottoned on to this huge gap in the market - yet.
Chloe has just returned to South Gloucestershire and Stroud College’s WISE Campus to do a degree in Media Production while working within the fashion industry to create inclusive fashion.
David O’Mahoney spent much of his childhood moving from home to home, living in areas where crime was normalised. He kept himself out of trouble but witnessed friends and family frequently imprisoned and living on the wrong side of the law.
Age 24, David decided a positive change was needed in his life and joined the British Army. He quickly found himself posted to Knightsbridge barracks in London, where he would go straight into a ceremonial season full of pomp, pageantry, and working hours that were incomparable to anything in civilian life.
Having escorted Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II on numerous state occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament and Trooping the Colour, David was achieving things personally and professionally that meant he was flying higher than he could have ever imagined.
In 2011, David’s life was to change beyond all recognition. He was knocked over by a car and suffered a brain injury with a mortality rate of 97%. Doctors wrote him off but he fought for his life and won. He soon learned that surviving would be the easy part - struggling to adjust to life outside the Armed Forces and living with the side effects of his injuries, which included anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
However through a lot of personal work, and a chance encounter with a mental health professional who challenged him to start a ‘gratitude’ diary, he has carved out a new life which adapts to his injuries but still brings challenge, ambition and connection.
He says: “My biggest wish is to help others triumph over their own tough times, so I’ve started a business inspired by my personal battles. I share my own hard-won lessons and the tools I use every day with veterans suffering from PTSD, schoolchildren, young men in prisons, major corporate execs and more.”
His journey post-injury has taken him from walking the flag in at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics just days after brain surgery to becoming a dynamic, outspoken voice for mental health awareness.
Dr Neciah Dorh
Scientist + Co-Founder
Talk title: The Hidden War - Superbugs versus Us
Neciah Dorh is a scientist leading a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, data scientists and microbiologists to create game-changing diagnostics which could mean that super-bugs can be identified and blitzed in a fraction of the current time scales.
His talk will explore how this collaborative approach, plus the unlikely combination of sugar, light and urine could help tip the scales back in our favour.
Neciah hails from the sunny shores of St. Lucia but has spent the last 10 years in Bristol.
During this time, he gained a BEng and Ph.D. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Bristol.
His work in fluorescence technologies has gained recognition locally and internationally including several articles and talks.
With his daughter newly enrolled into nursery, he looks forward to evenings of cuddles and being updated on her daily adventures.
Dr Rupy Aujla
Dr Rupy Aujla is an NHS GP and founder of "The Doctor's Kitchen" and the non-profit ‘Culinary Medicine UK’ – which aims to teach doctors and medical students the foundations of nutrition as well as teaching them how to cook.
In his role as clinical adviser to the Royal College of GP's and more recently being accepted as a fellow on the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme – Rupy has big aspirations to bring the concept of 'Culinary Medicine' to the profession globally.
Recently Rupy and the Culinary Medicine team have successfully taught Year 3 University of Bristol Medical students as part of their undergraduate training and they're working with University College London to deliver a course to their students this year.
Rupy is equally passionate about sharing good nutritional advice and delicious healthy recipes with the general public via 'The Doctor's Kitchen'. He aims to inspire patients about the beauty of food and the amazing clinical research behind the ingredients he uses. He also has two best-selling cookbooks published by Harper Collins - ‘The Doctor’s Kitchen’ and his second book 'Eat to Beat Illness' which was released in March 2019 and quickly became a Sunday Times Bestseller.
Drew Benvie has shaped how we use social media since the very beginning when he wrote the first page about social media on Wikipedia in 2006. He now works with global organisations, charities and celebrities, and he has been named the most respected social media practitioner in the UK.
Drew’s life online started before the era of social media, as a blogger in the 1990s, building his digital presence from his base in Bristol in the 2000s, and more recently as an advisor to global brands and figureheads.
He splits his time between the UK and the US, geeking out over social media trends and data, and researching how social media is influencing the world around us.
Drew has two children, and a dog who has his own Instagram account and who brings much love to those who choose to engage with him, in the real world and online.
Born in 1948, the eldest of four children, Fi went to St Hilda’s College, Oxford on a full grant to study Modern Languages. Shortly afterwards she married Andrew, the young man she met at a speaking compettiton, that she won. Nearly 50 years later they are still together and during that time Fi has worked as a librarian, raised two sons and given her time to a wide variety of voluntary work, including running a Christian retreat house.
Fi’s environmental ‘lightbulb moment’ came while living in France in the early 2000s. It was during this time, when she was engaged in a period of deep spiritual reflection, walking the hills and studying the writing of Marion Woodman and Joanna Macy, that she heard the trees screaming during the heatwave of 2003. Her mounting fear for the natural world and desire to speak out brought her back to Bristol, where she immediately threw herself into environmental activism. A dedicated member of ‘Grandparents for a Safe Earth’, over the last decade she has dressed up as a polar bear, a spider monkey and an orangutan, signed hundreds of petitions, lobbied her MP and occupied the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for six hours in June 2018. Since its launch in October 2018, Fi has been an active member of Extinction Rebellion.
Holly Stoppit is Bristol-based clown teacher, facilitator, dramatherapist, performance researcher, theatre director, university lecturer, blogger and actual real life clown.
Holly grew up in the circus and has travelled the world to learn from many wise clown masters. She has performed in streets, schools, festivals, circus tents and theatres.
10 years ago, having become increasingly fascinated in the healing potential of the creative process, Holly began retraining as a dramatherapist. For her Masters dissertation research, Holly explored the potential therapeutic benefits of clown skills training for adults with mental health issues. Thus “Clown-o-therapy” was born; a group therapy system, which blends clowning, mindfulness and personal reflection.
These days, Holly facilitates workshops for adults of all ages, backgrounds and from every corner of the UK and beyond.
Holly is artistic director of Beyond The Ridiculous - a collective of solo improvisers made up of Holly's long-term students. Last year, Holly was Clown In Residence at Bristol Museum.
Journalist + Author
Talk title: What I Learned By Living Without Artificial Light.
Linda Geddes is a Bristol-based journalist writing about the science of birth, death and everything in-between. Her first book, Bumpology, dealt with the birth part; her second, Chasing The Sun, explores the impact of sunlight on our bodies and minds. During her research, she spent a long weekend yard-sale shopping with the Old Order Amish, endured the Polar Night with the surprisingly cheerful residents of Arctic Norway, and stayed awake with bipolar patients on a Milanese psychiatric ward. She also persuaded her family to go cold turkey on artificial light to explore the impact on their sleep and well-being. Linda has a degree in cell biology and lives in Bristol.
Muneera Pilgrim is an international Poet, Cultural Producer, Writer and Broadcaster. She conducts expressive based, purpose-driven workshops, shares art, guest lectures, hosts and finds alternative ways to educate and exchange ideas.
She is a co-founder of the Muslim female Spoken Word and Hip-Hop duo Poetic Pilgrimage, and since that point has been exploring narratives and stories that are rarely centralised.
As a writer and broadcaster Muneera regularly contributes to BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought and has written for The Guardian, Amaliah, Huffington Post, The Independent, Al Jazeera Blog and Black Ballard and many more.
Muneera holds an MA in Islamic studies and an MA in Women’s Studies where she focused on intersectionality, spirituality, auto-ethnography and methodologies of empowerment for non-centred people. For her academic work and use of poetic enquiry she won the Ann Kolaski-Naylor award for creativity.
Muneera is the current Artist Associate with The English Touring Theatre where she is writing her first play, and she is a Resident Creative at Pervasive Media, a hub of creatives, technologists and academics.
If she were asked to describe herself in three words, she would say ‘Just Getting Started’.
CEO + Digital death expert
Talk title: Forever Online? How to Curate Your Digital Story After You Die.
Paul Wiseall is the UK Managing Director of a Bristol-based start-up which is working to solve the problem of death and other end of life issues.
Rather than leaving it to fate or Facebook, his talk explores how we can all take control of our unique digital story after our real world demise. The issue is somewhat complex. Data privacy laws don’t apply once you die, our legal system isn’t ready to handle our virtual assets and society in general doesn’t know how to handle digital death.
Growing up in a small village just outside Bristol, Paul devoured books like a dog on chips and expected to one day become an English teacher. But that all changed eight years ago when one of his closest friends died, which tipped Paul’s world on its head and set him on a new path - exploring how to plan as effectively for out digital death as we do our physical one.
Sam Rush is a former consultant in the disaster relief industry. Working with organisations like Tearfund and Save the Children, he sets up bases in the field in emerging situations, as well as supplying the operations once underway. He's worked in West Africa, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia.
15 years ago Sam swapped his life as an international disaster relief logistician for one working as a commercial fisherman, based out of the pretty North Devon village of Clovelly.
He spent five years going from hurricanes on the Grand Banks, to months in the Antarctic Ocean with whales, seals and wheeling Albatross, and from there to near losing his life, the ship and all hands 500 miles off Madagascar.
Currently he lives in Bristol where he makes artisan brass work in a small workshop.
Dr Stephanie Campbell is an optometrist by training with a passion for people and a drive to use science and technology to deliver great eye care at scale.
Founder of OKKO Health, Stephanie leads this pioneering digital health company creating smartphone technology to deliver eye care away from clinics.
Stephanie also works for the NHS in South Wales, developing models of community eye care that build "whole person" thinking, value-based healthcare, and better integration of community healthcare and hospital eye care.
Stephanie is also a South West Creative Technology Fellow exploring how we can use AI to create more space for compassion in healthcare and drive forward a patient-centred approach, “Humanistic AI”.
Stephanie Healey is a psychotherapist and sex educator based in Bristol.
She has spent over a decade working with teenagers and adults, helping them understand how to have healthy relationships and how to have good sex. During her twenties, she spent time reflecting on the terrible sex education that she and her friends had received. She realised that young people today face cruel double standards. They spend hours of their lives immersed unsupervised in a hypersexualised digital world with no real guidance from adults and institutions around them.
She says, “Our sexual health and wellbeing often gets neglected, yet we are expected to somehow become sexual with little or no guidance.”
Stephanie spends hours at her therapy practice talking about relationships and intimacy. She says she is unshockable when it comes to sex stories! “I have seriously heard it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly. At my core, I believe everyone is deserving of respectful sex and relationships – including you.”
Tegan Vincent-Cooke is an 18 year old Bristolian with a passion for life – especially horses and digital media!
She was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy at birth, meaning that her limbs have a variety of range and tones. One day she might just have stiffness in her legs, the next day she can't get out of bed, but it’s never stopped her from pursuing her passions and interests.
In 2016 she started a YouTube channel, creating inspiring, motivational videos and animations about her experiences of living with a disability, which went viral.
As a result she’s created her own business as an inspirational and educational speaker, delivering lectures and workshops to junior doctors, women's groups and schools to increase knowledge and awareness of people considered to be ‘different’.
Tegan is also a talented horse rider, and has been riding for 14 years. Some of her proudest achievements include winning the National RDA Dressage Championship four times and being selected to be on the British Dressage Team.
The Paralympics better watch out - it’s next on her list!