Posted on Wed, February 14, 2018

Inspired By…


We are proud to announce our inaugural guest speaker programme, featuring one guest per month, each with a mesmerising and inspiring story to tell. Each event is sponsored by Crate Loughton and will take place at Epping Forest College running from 7pm until 9pm. The events are free but please drop us an email so we can keep an eye on capacity –

26 January – Leigh Timmis, round the world cyclist

In 2010, Leigh left the UK to cycle around the world, on his unique and epic expedition of 44,000 miles over seven years, across 51 countries, and on a budget of only £5 per day. Pushing the limits of cycling and human endurance, he rode his bike – Dolly – in some of the most inhospitable places on Earth but also to some of the most magnificent.

Leigh’s life changing experiences with the people of the world have instilled within him a deep belief in the goodness and strength of humanity. With a background in creative education facilitation, Leigh brings his experiences to life in his presentation. Leigh is an ambassador for the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre and is continues fundraising.

13 February – Natalia Cohen, led her female team to row across the Pacific

With 15 years experience of living and working in over 60 countries, Natalia Cohen has chosen to follow an unusual path and has a broad range of professional experience within the travel industry.

This is not why she is best known, however.

Her understanding of team dynamics, the importance of a positive mindset and the ability to live in the moment led her to become part of the first all-female team to row unsupported across the Pacific Ocean.

Natalia and the crew completed this challenge in January 2016 setting two world records and gaining an international following. This was a journey from San Francisco, USA, to Cairns, Australia in a 29ft ocean rowing boat. The expedition was not only a challenge of extreme conditions and perseverance but also a journey within to better understand the strength of human spirit, the importance of being aligned with your values, developing mental resilience, the diversity within a team and enjoying the journey.

21 March – Richard Holgarth, rock and roll star, and guitar tutor

Richard will be perhaps best known as lead guitarist for the legendary John Otway and legendary rock group ‘Eddie and the Hotrods’, whose ‘Do Anything You Want to Do’ remains an all-time favourite.

Richard still plays with the ‘Rods, and is also a guest and session guitarist, with over 60 performance, composition and video credits on Wikipedia. Richard has recently issued a CD of his own work, ‘Finally…’. But in addition, Richard was co-owner and major tutor of ‘The Square’ in Harlow, a development centre for new talent, and the starting place for successful acts like George Ezra, Cornershop and Blur….

11 April – Jon Porter, UN worker in the Gaza Strip

Having worked in the 1990s in the Prime Minister’s office reviewing and proposing policy, Jon has most recently worked for the European Union in Albania and Kosovo and for the United Nations serving people in Syria, Jordan and currently the Gaza Strip. He will share his experiences of ‘life on the frontline’ and how, in his human resources and learning and development role, he manages to work equally well with colleagues from international and national organizations and communities.

15 May – Sara Rowbotham, whistleblower in the ‘3 Girls’ case…

Sara was the sexual health worker in Rochdale whose determined efforts to expose the sexual exploitation of children eventually led to the exposure and conviction of the child sex ring. Her role was memorably played by Maxine Peake in BBC’s 3-part drama, ‘3 Girls’. We are lucky through our personal connections to have her contribute to this inaugural guest speaker programme….

29 June – Richard Lawton, Ultra Marathon Man…

Richard works as a senior finance officer in the NHS…but that is not why he’s here as one of our guest speakers! Richard is an ultra marathon runner – which means running non-stop for two days and one night, to complete a 115 mile course, usually over tough mountain terrain. Richard is a brilliant, humorous speaker, and will tell you how, and in particular, why he does what he does…and how he copes with failure, as well as success…