The TEDxTruro speakers line up

Here is our complete line up for TEDxTruro 2017!

Shawn Brown

Shawn is an award winning engineer, designer and maker of things. He’s also dyslexic and an experienced dyslexia adviser; having trained numerous organisations to provide effective dyslexia support.

Neurodiversity – An untapped resource for future inventors

In our ever-changing world we need a new generation of inventors and innovators to help us shape our future. Shawn Brown is a dyslexic inventor and passionately believes that young people need to learn in ways that embrace the natural differences in their brains. From his experience building kids’ inventions and training organisations in dyslexia, Shawn explores how Neurodiversity is linked to innovation, yet widely overlooked in our education system.

Joanna Grace

Joanna is an international sensory engagement and inclusion specialist, trainer, author and Founder of The Sensory Projects. The Sensory Projects share the knowledge and creativity needed for inexpensive sensory items to be used as effective tools for inclusion.

Inclusion: for pity’s sake?

Joanna Grace will argue that the barriers to inclusion, traditionally thought of as being faced by people with special educational needs and disabilities, are actually barriers faced by everyone.

Joanna believes arguing for an inclusion based on pity is not only ineffective it is damaging. Arguments based on self-interest are far more powerful. Change will come about when awareness and understanding progress to a point where everyone understands what they personally gain from inclusion.


C​hlöe Salfield

C​hlöe is a student at Curnow school and will be co-presenting with Joanna. She is a huge fan of music, particularly rock and punk. Chloe is self assured and confident. She will be sharing ideas about why arguments for inclusion should be based on what society stands to gain from including people.

Hayley Goleniowska 

Hayley is gently changing perceptions of Down’s syndrome with her powerful words. She is the founder of award-winning blog Downs Side Up, which offers encouragement and advice to new families with a Down’s syndrome diagnosis.

Overcoming the fear of Down’s syndrome

In a powerful talk, Hayley will talk honestly about fear: her own fear of the future when her daughter Natty was born with Down’s syndrome and other people’s fear, which continues to create barriers for Natty. Explaining how Natty has flourished, overcoming these obstacles and becoming stronger because of them.  Hayley will challenge us to think differently about Down’s syndrome.

Simon Jackson

Simon is a professor and leads biomedical research at the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. Simon’s work has developed new cell models to study infections and the effect of pollutants on the lungs.

Every breath you take – how cell barriers protect the body

Some of the cells in our bodies communicate with each other to protect us from infection and a hostile environment – could they hold the secret to new ways to diagnose and treat disease? Simon Jackson has been studying how cells of the immune system talk to barrier cells that protect our lungs. He is decoding the messages they send when faced with dangers, such as from infection or pollutants that we breathe in. Understanding the language of these cells will help develop new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

Fred McVittie

Fred is the owner of Cornish Edible Insects, a company which develops innovative insect-based foods. Driven by a concern for food security and environmental protection, as well as a love of novelty and the broadening of experience, Fred is committed to providing education around the inclusion of insects within more people’s diets.

The Frontiers of Taste

Fred McVittie believes that to be sustainable we are going to have to stop eating some of the foods we are most comfortable with and instead eat things that are out of that comfort zone.  These may even be outside the realm of good taste entirely – like insects! Instead of disgust stopping us, Fred will argue the case for savouring the experience and taking time to experience the full range of emotions it may trigger from fear and anticipation to surprise and even enjoyment!

Laura Penhaul

Laura was the team leader of the Coxless Crew who set two world records in January 2016, rowing unsupported across the Pacific. She was also the Lead Physiotherapist for the Paralympic Programme of British Athletics and supported the team at Vancouver, London and Rio Paralympic Games.

Achieving the impossible

After four years of preparation, Laura Penhaul and her crew rowed a staggering 9,000 nautical miles over nine months to cross the Pacific unsupported. Laura has also worked with others, including the endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont, on incredible challenges. Drawing on her own experiences, and those of others who achieve the seemingly impossible, Laura will discuss resilience and how despite having the odds stacked against you, it is still possible to find the strength, courage and determination to continue.

Duncan Williams

Duncan’s research covers music, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence. He is a researcher in the Digital Creativity Labs at the University of York and has a PhD in psychoacoustics and signal processing from Surrey University.

His work has been featured on Sky News Sunrise, BBC One’s ‘One Show’, and Channel 5’s ‘Gadgetshow’, as well as in international journals on psychology, music cognition and acoustics.

Music in mind

Have you ever wondered why you respond so deeply to certain pieces of music? What happens in our brains when we hear music? Why does it affect us so deeply? Duncan Williams is using this knowledge to develop new ways of interacting with music. His talk will leave you in awe of the power of music and the mind.

Kezia Barr

Kezia is a folk roots singer/songwriter from Cornwall. Her songs take from traditional folk ballads and combine them with beautiful vocal melodies and storytelling. Folk legend Ralph McTell says of her: “I think she is exceptional – one of the most original and exciting artists to come out of Cornwall.”

Haunting Cornish Folk Songs

Kezia will delight the TEDxTruro audience with her beautiful, haunting songs that are inspired by her life in Cornwall. Kezia grew up in an old, ex-mining town and has always been aware of a shadow of something lost, which fixes the place with a certain melancholy that influences the way she sings and plays.


Colin Leggo

Colin Leggo is a professional stand-up comedian and performer. He has successfully taken seven shows to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, receiving acclaim for his comedy writing and directing. He is well known for his unique take on Cornish culture and several of his videos have gone viral, including ‘Grand Theft Cornwall’, a parody of the computer game and ‘Cornish Is’, which was made popular by Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills.

This year Colin reached the finals of the UK Pun Championship, beating over 2000 other comedians to reach the final eight.

The Curse of Poldark

Ross Poldark chops down six fields of corn and still looks fantastic. Comedian Colin Leggo looks all sweaty after eating a large pasty. He may not be able to ride a horse from Truro to Lands End in ten minutes like Poldark, but Colin will take the TEDxTruro audience on a canter through his musings on modern Cornwall.

Bimini Love

Bimini Love is a 15-year-old school girl from Newquay in Cornwall. She set up the Street Cramps project in February 2017 after seeing the numbers of homeless people increase in Cornwall over the winter months.

Street Cramps provides homeless women with a box each month containing essential sanitary products. Bimini’s idea is changing the lives of women in Cornwall and beyond.

Street Cramps: a 15-year-old tackles period poverty

Bimini will talk about period poverty and how challenging it is for homeless women to cope with their periods. Street Cramps is Bimini’s way of helping by giving homeless women access to essential sanitary products each month. In an inspiring talk, Bimini will prove that one simple idea can transform the lives of many.

Max Caddis

Max Caddis will celebrate his thirteenth birthday the day before TEDxTruro 2017. Max is a pupil at Truro School and lives near St Newlyn East with his family.

Max enjoys skate boarding, making stuff, film making and photography. He is interested in politics and the state of the World. When Radio 4’s Any Questions came to Cornwall, he was keen to be part of the audience, and on the day was chosen to ask the panel a question about the impending US election. Max also loves theatre and comedy and his visits to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival have inspired him to look at the world in a different and original way.

Max impressed the TEDxTruro organisers so much with his application video about dyslexia that they decided to include it in the event programme.

Do What You Can’t

When Max started at school he excelled at making things, but struggled with reading. He was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was nine. In his video he shares his experience of dyslexia and will challenge the audience to push themselves to do the things that they find difficult.

Will Coleman

Will Coleman’s eclectic career has included studying bonobo behaviour in Stuttgart Zoo, schoolteacher, storyteller, filmmaker, educational consultant and working with Kneehigh Theatre as a performer, director and musician. He is the author of several books on storytelling and the culture and language of Cornwall.

Will is the Artistic Director of Golden Tree Productions, a community interest company that produces cultural projects that celebrate Cornwall’s unique heritage. He was the driving force behind the cultural phenomenon The Man Engine.

Death & resurrection with the UK’s largest mechanical puppet

In the summer of 2016, the Man Engine – a 11.2m high, 40 tonne mechanical puppet – steamed the length of the Cornish mining landscape, capturing the imagination of tens of thousands of people as he went. The Man Engine provoked an overwhelming response: unearthing a deep-rooted vein of pride and passion in many who saw him, and pushing the team behind him to their very limits. Will Coleman shares his story and explains why he brought this cultural phenomenon to life.

Susie Green

Susie is the CEO of Mermaids, a charity that supports gender variant children, young people and their families. Susie became involved with Mermaids when she needed support for her daughter, Jackie.

Susie has expanded the charity’s capacity and funding, as well as developing the services it offers. She campaigns for the provision of more services and respectful media representation of transgender people.

Transgender: a mother’s story

When one of Susie Green’s children was four they said they should have been born a girl. Susie will share their story and talk about her daughter Jackie’s transition, which happened at a time when there was little discussion or understanding about transgender issues. Jackie is happy in her own skin now, but society’s attitudes towards transgender people means that every day is still a challenge. Susie looks forward to the day that transgender people are accepted fully and that their gender identity is not an issue at all. This is a story of a parent’s love, where the duty to help your child find happiness is the most important thing.

Brendan Godley

Brendan Godley is a Professor of Conservation Science/Director of the Centre for Ecology & Conservation at the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus.  His research focuses on many aspects of marine science but his lifelong passion is ensuring sea turtle survival by engaging people in their conservation.

Brendan is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts, has won a number of awards for his work and lectures and supervises research around the world. He is a member of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group and regularly serves as advisor to governmental organisations and conservation charities.

Sea turtles united by oceans

Until recently, little was known of the life cycle of sea turtles as they spend so much of their time under water and in open oceans. With the advent of satellite tracking we are beginning to understand much more of their migratory ecology, the threats they face and help connect the many nations that need to involved in their conservation.

Emma Wright

Emma works for a national cancer charity in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. She lives in Newquay with her family.

One of Emma’s passions is to encourage others to talk about their experiences with mental illness. Emma calls her depression ‘Bob’. Emma will be at TEDxTruro along with ‘Bob’ to talk about her experience and how old fashioned communication in this day of digital technology is more important than ever.

We need to talk about Bob: a tale of depression, enlightenment and the importance of conversation

Emma calls her depression Bob. He came into her life nine years ago and shaped her belief that the only way we will truly break down the stigma around mental health is if more people talk about their experiences. Digital technology allows us to be connected more than ever before, but we know people less and less. Emma’s talk will explore the importance of real life conversation in breaking down the barriers around depression. She will explain how she came to accept Bob but not be defined by him. It is a story of hope, brightness and humour that will help you look at depression and people going through it in a different way.


Will Jackson

Will Jackson is the director of Engineered Arts Ltd, a robotics company based in Cornwall. Engineered Arts are the market leaders in the design and manufacture of full sized humanoid robots, which are now operational in over 20 countries, with customers including NASA, Science Museum London and Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw.

Will is a self-taught engineer who built his first computer and robot at the age of 13 – a two wheeled robot, complete with purple marker pen, which scuttled off under his bed and coloured in the carpet.

He studied 3D design at the University of Brighton and founded Engineered Arts in 2004.


Robots, AI and why the butler didn’t do it

What is the difference between a robot and artificial intelligence? Will Jackson – through the medium of his creation RoboThespian – will explore what it means to be artificial and not intelligent in a world where main stream media myths and confusion skew our understandings of robotics and our interpretation of AI.


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