Our 2019 Speakers

We’re very excited to present the stellar lineup of speakers for our inaugural TEDxSherborne on 9 May 2019.

Each of our 13 speakers – from a world-renowned travel writer to a mental health advocate, a Member of Youth Parliament for Dorset to a pioneering social worker – will address a different aspect of our 2019 theme ‘Fit for the Future.’

Our speaker lineup is as follows. Please click play on the Soundcloud bar beneath each speaker’s biography to hear them in conversation with TEDxSherborne chair, Tony Cooke, about their forthcoming talk:

Dr Benjamin Wild, FRHistS is a cultural historian (and teacher of history at Sherborne School) who writes and lectures about the history of dress and convenes courses for the Victoria & Albert Museum. He will be talking about Alan Turing, and, more broadly, on the value of those on the margin.

Andrew Grundell is a Dorset native whose career lay in manufacturing until a recent life-changing experience of coping with family crisis led him to sell his companies and become a mental health advocate. Andrew’s talk will address the coming mental health crisis, and also suggest a possible new approach to dealing with it.

Susan Elderkin is a bibliotherapist who prescribes books for life’s afflictions, and co-authored The Novel Cure. The author of The Voices, and Sunset Over Chocolate Mountains, she now runs creative writing workshops from her home in Somerset. Her talk will suggest that mindful reading can, of itself, be a radical act.

Tom Payne is an author and journalist who writes on poetry, education, celebrity and ageing for publications including The Daily Telegraph. An English teacher at Sherborne School, Tom also teaches a Latin class at The Gryphon. His talk will draw on the wisdom of the ancients to suggest a healthier approach to getting old.

Laurence Hayward is currently studying for his GCSEs at Sturminster Newton High School. Laurence was a Member of Youth Parliament for Dorset from Feb ’18-Feb ’19, and will be exploring the issue of political engagement among the young in his talk.

Chloë Dick, 17. Now studying for her International Baccalaureate at Sherborne Girls, Chloë previously studied at the British International School in New York. Her talk will address the importance of conservation, and how each of us can do our bit in protecting biodiversity.

Kierhan Ellis is a 32-year-old personal trainer with Evolve Fitness Training. His career has taken him all over the UK and he has also worked in the US, coaching in states including New York and Massachusetts. In a talk focused on what it means to be a man in today’s world, Kierhan will draw on his own experiences and those of his friends and peers.

Jocasta Cox, 14, joined St Mary’s School, Shaftesbury in 2018, after living overseas for 11 years (in Australia, Switzerland and the Czech Republic). Jocasta, who enjoys Model United Nations and is an MUN award-winner, will be discussing the plastics problem, and what we can do about it.

Rory MacLean — born in Canada, living in Yetminster — is one of Britain’s most expressive and adventurous travel writers. His books, which have been translated into a dozen languages, include UK top tens Stalin’s Nose and Under the Dragon. Drawing on his experiences as a diarist, travel writer and world citizen, Rory will be talking about the importance of the stories we tell ourselves.

Josh Shortman joined The Gryphon Sixth Form in September after moving to Dorset from Warwickshire. A keen public speaker, Josh has participated in debating tournaments at Warwick University and the Oxford Student Union. His talk will ask whether democracy works, and discuss how our political system might evolve to meet our needs better.

Adam Stones attended Sherborne School in the 90s, and later worked at the International College. A life-changing bike ride across the USA prompted his entry into journalism, and, later, into social change communications. He now lives and works in Amsterdam, and will be advocating for cycling as an agent of social change.

Stella Mortarotti is a year 10 pupil at Leweston. Fourteen-year-old Stella has traveled extensively with her family, which has given her a love of meeting people, a broad view of the world and a passion for informing and inspiring others. Her talk will suggest that the community has a vital role to play in education, relieving overstretched schools of the PSHE element of the syllabus.

Julie Plumley is the daughter of a Dorset farmer. After qualifying as a social worker, Julie worked with families and young people for 30 years before setting up Future Roots, a care farm for young people facing serious challenges, eleven years ago. Julie will explore the issue of youth disaffection and crime through the prism of her experience of working with one troubled local teen.


In the next few weeks, we will start releasing short introductory videos and podcast interviews with our speakers, to provide a taste of what’s to come on 9 May 2019.

In due course, we will also be releasing details of our free Livestreaming service, which will enable those not able to join the live audience to tune in online and enjoy the day from their own homes, village halls or classrooms.

Our special thanks go to our Photographer-in-Residence, Joss Barratt, and his wonderfully talented team of A-level photographers from across all of Sherborne’s secondary schools for taking these beautiful portrait photos of our speakers. Our thanks also go to Sherborne’s schools for their support in preparing potential speakers for auditions as well as for providing venues for auditions and team meetings.

Our thanks also go to ChangeHackers for recording and editing our podcast interviews.