Internationally renowned speakers come to Exeter to present their ideas worth spreading at TEDxExeter 2016

Press release

Jihad, communication, human rights and inequality are just some of the challenging issues facing us all today. They are also all on the agenda for this year’s TEDxExeter conference, when experts from a wide range of fields will come to Exeter to share their ideas and solutions.

Alex Holmes was bullied at school. In the sixth form he set up a peer mentoring scheme to tackle the problem, and received a Diana Award. Now head of the anti-bullying campaign at the Diana Award, he will speak about the power of peer and how kids can change the world with their energy, kindness and leadership.

Also set to inspire audiences is Anna Frost, who runs ultra marathons. If you don’t try to aim for what you believe in, she says, the doors will not open (and that’s not just about running!).

Danny Dorling is professor of geography at the University of Oxford and, with the help of some unfamiliar maps, he will ask us to imagine the world anew.

Concern about extremism and young people leaving the country for jihad is never far from the headlines. Manwar Ali fought in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Burma, and was an active recruiter for jihad. He will talk about what made him stop and his work to prevent the misunderstanding of Islam that leads people to jihad.

He was also one of the interviewees in Deeyah Khan’s recent film Jihad. The Emmy and Peabody award-winning film director’s work highlights human rights, women’s voices and freedom of expression. She will speak of how she creates social change through the arts.

We are almost drowning in data. 90% of the world’s data has been produced in the past two years and it means nothing to most of us. Alan Smith, data visualisation editor at the Financial Times will show how visualising number as graphs and charts can help the most innumerate of us to understand them.

As well as data, algorithm is a word that has recently risen to prominence. But who is responsible for what, how and where they ‘decide’? Usman Haque, an architect and digital thinker, asks whether we should be asking more questions about how we use smart technology.

The whole ethos of TED and TEDx is to share “ideas worth spreading,” says TEDxExeter licensee and curator, Claire Kennedy. “Our team works hard all year to identify people who are at the top of their game. Some of them have spent years working to solve seemingly intractable problems, others inspire by following their dream. Some amaze by their physical prowess.

“This is our fifth year of TEDxExeter and we continue to attract remarkable speakers to Exeter. Our aim is to inspire, challenge and entertain our audiences and to make them think. We make a point of having long breaks during the day, so people can come together to reflect on and discuss what they have heard, and we know that it can lead to people making changes in their life and work.” 

The day-long conference will take place in the Exeter Northcott Theatre on 15 April 2016. There is a simultaneous livestream to the nearby Alumni Auditorium. Tickets for both of these events are now sold out. However there are other opportunities for people to take part. There will be public livestream events at Exeter Central Library and at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM). Individuals can watch the livestream, or organise a private livestream viewing party. Details of how to host a livestream event will be on the TEDxExeter website soon.

The full list of speakers and performers for TEDxExeter 2016

Abbie McGregor is a Exeter College student who, aged just 16, has wowed judges from TEDxExeter with her talk Remember to Dream. Alan Smith is data visualisation editor at the Financial Times. Alex Holmes is head of the anti-bullying campaign at The Diana Award. He was bullied himself at school and won a Diana Award for tackling bullying in his school. Anna Frost is an ultrarunner and an ambassador for SisuGirls. Cormac Russell is managing director of Nurture Development, the leading Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) organisation in Europe, and faculty member of the ABCD Institute in the US. He works with local communities, NGOs and governments in four continents. Danny Dorling is professor of geography at the University of Oxford. He was described in a Guardian editorial as “that rare university professor: expert, politically engaged and able to explain simply why his subject matters”. Deeyah Khan is a critically acclaimed music producer and Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director, highlighting human rights, women’s voices and freedom of expression. Fi McNae is co-founder and CEO of Space Doctors, taking cultural and semiotic techniques into branding and corporate communications. Giles Duley lost both legs and his left arm after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan, and is an award-winning photographer of conflicts across the world. Lindsay Levin is founder of Leaders’ Quest and Leaders’ Quest Foundation working with corporate management and NGOs to bridge divides – between cultures, perspectives and opposing voices. Muhammad Manwar Ali is chief executive of Muslim educational charity JIMAS and one of the few scholars in the UK who has been directly involved in Jihad. Marcus Lyon is a renowned British artist with an international outlook and reputation. He is also a committed social entrepreneur. Matt Harvey was first official poet-in-residence at the Wimbledon Championships, has been widely commissioned and is a familiar voice on Radio 4. Pragna Patel is a founding member and director of the Southall Black Sisters advocacy and campaigning centre, and has written extensively on race, gender and religion. Usman Haque trained as an architect and has created responsive environments, interactive installations and dozens of mass-participation initiatives worldwide. He is founding partner of Umbrellium. Zia Nath practises the sacred dances of ancient Indian and esoteric Sufi temples, and has presented her dance show Sufi Splendour at many festivals and events.

For more information about TEDxExeter or any of the speakers please contact Cathy Debenham,, 07786 440129. Photographs of speakers are available on request.

Photographs of previous TEDxExeter events are available to download from the TEDxExeter Flickr page. Click on individual pictures to see captions and picture credits.

Notes to editors

TEDxExeter is organised by a team of local volunteers. It is made possible by the generosity of local companies who support the event.

All TEDxExeter talks are filmed and made freely available on the internet. The TED translation project means ideas from Exeter reach a truly global audience. So far TEDxExeter speakers’ talks have been viewed more than 5.25 million times. Four of them have been featured on Karima Bennoune sharing stories of real people fighting against fundamentalism in their own communities; Scilla Elworthy speaking on non violence; Bandi Mbubi calling for fair trade phones; and slam poet Harry Baker‘s love poem for lonely prime numbers… Michelle Ryan’s talk on work-life balance tops a TEDx YouTube list on the way we work.

About TEDx x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

Follow TEDxExeter on Twitter at For more information and to watch our talks visit our website:

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available, free, on TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from thousands of volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a “wish,” or idea, to create change in the world; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at, on Facebook at or Instagram at