Cornwall’s first TEDx event brings inspiring speakers to Truro

Cornwall’s first TEDx event took place on Friday, 9 September and was a resounding success, with inspiring talks on topics from marine conservation, searching for life in space and grief to genetics.

Inspired by the TED conference, where some of the world’s best thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives, TEDxTruro took place at the Burrell Theatre, Truro.

The theme of the day was ‘Time and Tide’ and the varied speakers had all spent their lives creating change: some through researching and educating; others by facing and rising above adversity.

Mandy Reynolds, TEDxTruro Curator and Licensee, said: “We are absolutely delighted with how the event went. The speakers all gave the talk of their lives. We challenged the audience to be inspired by them to create change. So whether that was realising that each new day is a gift, finding out where the fish on your plate comes from, using a reusable bottle instead of plastic or cutting down on distractions at work – there was something for everyone. The talks will be placed online in the next few weeks and we hope even more people will be inspired.”

One of the audience members was Mary Lunnen. She said: “I loved the whole day, right from the beginning.  I enjoyed all the talks – there was such a variety. It was a fantastic event, and I would definitely like to be there next year.”

The day’s first speaker was Sam Amps, a freediving instructor and former UK team freediver. In a fascinating talk entitled “Under pressure and under control”, Falmouth-based Sam explained how the tactics that freedivers use to survive can also help the rest of us make it through when pressure is high and time is tight.

Sam commented:  “Being a part of TEDx as a speaker was a great privilege. Not only was it a chance to really hone my own speaking skills, with fantastic support from the TEDx coaches, it was also a real honour and pleasure to spend some time with the other speakers, such a bunch of interesting and thought-provoking people. I’d do it again like a shot!”

One of the talks which had the biggest impact was from Victoria Milligan. Overcoming tragedy and making the most of the time you have was the focus of Victoria’s talk. Her life was torn apart in 2013 when she was involved in a speed boat accident in Padstow, which claimed the lives of her husband and eight-year-old daughter.

The speakers also included Dr Heather Koldewey from the Zoological Society of London who’s talk “Optimistic Oceans” put the case for a more positive approach to promoting marine conservation. The audience were each given a reusable bottle to inspire them to cut down on plastic bottles, which litter our oceans.

Divorce and separation was the focus for Herve G Wery, who talked about the need to make a parent’s love for their child the priority during family breakdowns.

Clinical psychologist and software designer Dr Craig Newman looked at the potential for technology to empower patients of chronic illnesses.

Olivia Lowry, a Cornish writer and performer, talked about the inspiration for her play The Coastguard’s Daughter, which is based on true events which unfolded in and around her family home in Pentewan. She asked the audience to think about the untold stories in their own lives and encouraged them to share those stories.

Dr Jess Tyrrell from the University of Exeter asked: “Is life tougher for short men and overweight women?” She used “big data” and genetics to provide the answer.

Chris Williams from the New Economics Foundation talked about fishing and the need for fresh thinking to ensure that the industry reaps the greatest benefits for society. He challenged the audience to think about where the fish we eat comes from and who catches it.

Nathan Mayne, a senior lecturer of astrophysics at the University of Exeter focussed on the search for life in distant solar systems and reminded the audience to take care of our own precious planet.

Popular sea shanty choir the Aggie Boys closed the event, with a rousing set of songs that fitted perfectly with the event’s theme of ‘Time and Tide’.

TEDxTruro Curator and Licensee Mandy Reynolds added: “TEDxTruro was organised by a team of volunteers and relied on the generosity of our sponsors. Without them we would not have been able to bring TEDx to Cornwall. We will soon be working hard on next year’s event, when we look forward to brining more brilliant speakers to Cornwall.”


“It was a fantastic event and very insightful. Loved it. Very rare to have an event of this quality in Cornwall. Extremely well organised, with great talks!”