Anthony Seldon: Positive health: the new vision for the 21st century
Tuesday 10 November 2009
In January 2006, Dr Anthony Seldon (MA, PhD, FRSA, MBA, FRHisS) became the 13th Master of Wellington College, one of Britain's most historic independent schools, having been Headmaster of Brighton College since September 1997. He is author or editor of over 25 books on contemporary history, politics and education. After gaining an MA at Worcester College, Oxford, and a PhD at the London School of Economics, he qualified as a teacher at King's College, London. He also has an MBA. He is the co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary British History, the internationally respected body whose aim is to promote the study of British history since 1945.
Dr Seldon, perhaps best known for his books on the Tony Blair years, spoke about "the need to help people discover how to live psychologically, physically and mentally healthy lives". Dr Seldon has written or edited many books on education, which, he said, is increasingly about teaching and not learning. The Latin word for educate, educare, 'to bring up, rear, educate', he explained, is related to educere, meaning 'to bring out, to lead out'. However, what we are currently doing, according to him, is leading people into abuse, drug taking and unemployment. We teach a lot of negative things, for example history teaches about warfare and depression. It's all very negative.
The 21st century, he argued, is so far very reactive, mere "band aid thinking". He referred to prisons as "colleges for criminals" and drew the audience's attention to the alarming re-offending statistics. The NHS, he stated, is a "National Illness Service" run by a "Ministry of Ill Health", and he called for positive preventive public health policies. Human flourishing is very important. We should all lead healthy, positive lives. Happy people are in touch with other people, whereas those who are unhappy or depressed are entombed in their own mental and emotional world. Only we have the ability to change our lives.
Guy Watson: Trying to be useful
Wednesday 3 June 2009
He travels by train and counts tightrope walking among his hobbies " Guy Watson is not your stereotypical successful businessman. Yet today, Riverford's is the largest vegetable box scheme in the country and Watson has built up a loyal following of fellow-foodies who prefer not only his produce but also his approach to food production to those of the supermarkets.
Guy was born and raised at Riverford Farm as one of five children, all five of whom are today running food businesses from the farm. After a short spell working as a marketing consultant in London and New York he returned to the farm to start Riverford Organic Vegetables in 1986. Over 23 years the business has grown from three acres and a wheelbarrow to a business employing 400 staff with sales of £35 million. It now delivers to 45,000 households a week and represents 95% of sales. Guy is an enthusiast for cooperation, collaboration and profit-sharing in business. Riverford is committed to progressively moving to employee ownership rather than the more conventional entrepreneurial exits.
He began by explaining the background to the lecture title: Being useful runs through our family and my entire life. My four siblings and I were always encouraged to be useful and entrepreneurial. After a brief and unsatisfying stint in London and New York as a management consultant, he returned to the family farm in Devon to start his own business growing vegetables. And it had to be organic: Both my brother and I were very ill once as a result of pesticide poisoning.
In 1997, keen to develop an efficient way of scaling up organic farming, he formed a cooperative with several neighbouring farmers and with the aid of an EU grant bought the necessary machinery. However, selling organic vegetables to supermarkets proved to be as unsatisfying as management consultancy: Supermarkets make second-hand car dealers seem like priests, he told his captive audience. Starting a box scheme freed him up to grow more than just trendy iceberg lettuce, and it soon took off.
Immediately after the lecture, a taxi was waiting to whisk him off to the Observer Ethical Trading Awards in London, where he was nominated in two categories. He went on to win the Best Ethical Business award, having already picked up Best Organic Retailer at the Soil Association's Natural and Organic Awards in April.
Terry Waite CBE: Survival in extreme situations
Tuesday 3 March 2009
Terry Waite, the former special envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, was taken captive in Lebanon in 1987 whilst negotiating the release of Western hostages. He was kept prisoner for 1763 days, the first four years of which were spent in solitary confinement. On his release, he decided to concentrate on studying, writing, lecturing and humanitarian activities. He has taken on a major role in a number of organisations concerned with third-world development, support for prisoners, human rights, environmental issues and counselling services, to name just a few. He also founded Hostage UK, a charity providing support for hostage families. He holds a number of honorary doctorates, was appointed MBE and CBE and is the author of four books. He travels extensively to lecture on the subjects of conflict resolution and the rise of global terrorism.
In his talk, he reflected on his time in captivity. With no access to books, television, radio or any other outside stimuli, he told his audience, his only hope of staying sane was to embark on what he called an inward journey. Fabulously well-read, he rehearsed and explored the wealth of knowledge, insights and information stored in his mind; his book Taken on trust, he said, was written in his head during his days in captivity, and merely written down afterwards.
Terry Waite is also President of Emmaus UK. Emmaus is an international organisation active in 44 countries across the world which offers homeless people a home, work and the chance to rebuild their lives in a supportive environment. The lecture took place while work was nearing completion on the Green Roof Project, a new Emmaus community in Winchester.