Dauntsey’s School has announced another impressive line-up of speakers for the 2017/18 programme of its renowned Mercers’ lecture series.

The Mercers’ lectures are named in recognition of the links between Dauntsey’s and the Mercers’ Company, which go back to Mercer founder Alderman William Dauntsey, Master of the Worshipful Company of Mercers, who founded the school in West Lavington in 1542.

· Alex Thompson, 14 September 2017
Alex is a major talent in international yacht racing. He competes in the high-speed, extreme IMOCA 60 class and has been sponsored by HUGO BOSS since 2003. In January 2017 he finished the Vendee Globe in second place, being the fastest Britain to sail single handedly, non-stop, around the globe.

· Dr Bettany Hughes, 11 October 2017
Bettany is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster who specialises in ancient and mediaeval history and culture. She has written and presented more than 50 TV and radio documentaries which have reached some 250 million people worldwide. Britain’s Secret Treasures, which she co-presented with Michael Buerk, was a particular highlight.

· Steve Backshall, 7 November 2017
Steve is one of TV’s busiest presenters and a BAFTA award-winning wildlife expert, known to many for BBC TV’s Deadly 60. His other BBC work includes being part of the expedition teams in Lost Land of the Tiger, Lost Land of the Volcano and Lost Land of the Jaguar. He has worked for the National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Channel and has published three novels for children and several non-fiction works. He is married to Helen Glover, the Olympic champion rower. In 2017, they completed the Devizes to Westminster canoe race together to raise funds to protect a section of rainforest in Malaysian Borneo.

· Nigel Owens MBE, 6 February 2018
Nigel is recognised as one of the world’s best rugby referees. Born and bred on a council estate in Mynyddcerrig, he first picked up the referee whistle aged 16. He officiated his first international game in 2005 between Ireland and Japan in Osaka and made his World Cup debut in 2017 refereeing the Argentina versus Georgia game in Lyon. Nigel is the first openly gay man to referee at the highest level.

· Jo Fairley, 8 March 2018
Jo co-founded Green & Black’s chocolate in 1991. Dreamt up on a rainy night on London’s Portobello Road, Green & Black’s has grown into a $100 million worldwide brand. ‘Green’, because it was organic and ‘Black’ because it was the darkest chocolate on the market. The company was bought by Cadbury in 2005 and Jo continues to champion its worldwide success in co-operation with its new owners.

· Heather Stanning OBE, 27 April 2018
Ranked number one female rower in the world since 2016, Heather is a double Olympic champion, double World champion, quadruple World Cup champion and double European champion. Paired with Helen Glover in 2012, she won an Olympic gold medal, the first ever British Olympic gold medal in women’s rowing. She announced her retirement from rowing in November 2016.

Speaking about the lecture series, Jo Sagers, Registrar at Dauntsey’s, said: “The Mercers’ lectures are central to encouraging our pupils to engage with the outside world and think beyond the confines of their academic curriculum.

“This year we look forward to welcoming a diverse range of eminent speakers covering elite sport, history, adventure and business. This year’s lecture series will be a highlight for the school and, I hope, for our local community as well.”

All lectures commence at 7.30pm and will be held in either the Memorial Hall or the new Pavilion; please check on the school website on the day of the event. Visit: dauntseys.org.

Everyone is welcome to the Lectures and entry is free, but please reserve your seats online:
dauntseys.org/mercers-lectures or by contacting the School on: 01380 814500.

Please note that bookings for lectures taking place in 2018 will open in November.

Main image: Steve Backshall