TEDxWarrington “one of the best events Warrington has ever seen”

When a global brand such as TEDx comes to town, there is inevitably going to be both curiosity and expectation. The inaugural TEDxWarrington event took place on Thursday 23 June at Pyramid Parr Hall, Warrington, and has been heralded a triumph of community spirit and one of the best events Warrington has ever seen.

High praise indeed; but why was the event such a success and did it really do justice to the organiser’s chosen event theme ‘Build Connection, Strengthen Communities’?

At a time of post-pandemic recovery, cost of living crisis and global political and environmental challenge, there’s no doubt that Warrington, and indeed the world beyond, deserved an injection of positivity.

Years of planning by the organising team, led by TEDxWarrington licensee and event curator Kirsty James, eventually saw the infamous TEDx brand come to town with an event showcasing the best of humanity and triumph over challenge.

11 speakers hit the stage, expertly hosted by three-time TEDx speaker and storytelling coach Andrew Thorp and supported by speaker coach Catherine Sandland plus Kirsty and a 30-strong support team.

A TEDx event is effectively an event of two components:

There is a live event which for Warrington was limited by licence to 100 lucky ticket-holders. The second event is the production of the official TEDx talks, which were filmed and edited by Paul Chadwick of Prism Studios, for submission to TED for compliance checks and approval.

The team are delighted to confirm that all talks have now been approved to feature on the official TEDx Talks YouTube channel. Another 11 happy speakers have claimed the ‘official TEDx speaker’ title.

The event was opened by Pete Donnelly, founder of The Wheelchair Skills College, who shared his adventurous tales from coffee shops to cargo ships crossing the Caspian Sea using a wheelchair. He described and demonstrated the difference wheelchair skills have made for him ‘Finding freedom in using a wheelchair’.

Next, Kate Trafford, Master Coach and leadership consultant asked us to consider a more sustainable and enjoyable route map to success, one that allows you to ‘get there’ and love here to ‘Connect with Authentic Success’.

Charlotte Smith, Director of Conservation Education at Chester Zoo, then explained ‘Why Conservation Education Matters’ and discussed the role that schools could play in helping solve the climate and ecological crises.

Kerry Lockyer of Oomph Learning took us on a behavioural science journey in her enlightening talk ‘From Frustration to Fascination: Embracing Cognitive Diversity’.

Next, Ali Davenport wowed the audience with a powerful high kick and animated presentation ‘Everything is connected, Connection is everything’. Her poetry of words explored connection at an individual, community and planetary level and challenged us to stop fixing each other and plug in to the creative power of connection to spark ideas, inspire change and help people and communities to evolve.

The final speaker before the interval was Ben Dunne of the River Reeves Foundation (RRF) who ensured there wasn’t a dry eye in the room as he shared his personal tragedy and how, over time, it had led him to ‘Building an alternate future through grief’.

After he’d closed with a hugely powerful message, the audience were invited to turn to the back of the room where musicians Louis Campbell, Sean Rogan and Nat Martin had been secretly positioned. As students of the Royal Northern College of Music in receipt of a bursary from the RRF, it was the perfect example of how alternate futures were being created. They delivered a spine-chilling acoustic cover of Viola Beach’s Swings and Waterslides in tribute to the band, and Ben’s son, who had been due to play at that exact venue just weeks after they were killed.

An emotional audience were given a short interval to recompose themselves and enjoy refreshments on a hot summer’s evening before returning to the exhibition hall for the second part. This was opened by Kate Jenkinson of Next Step HR. In her creative talk ‘Poetry never abandons us’, she shared her rollercoaster relationship with poetry and invited us to embrace poetry as a tool for inspiring connection, community and hope.

Russell Treasure of Fretus Group was next on stage and announced ‘There is nothing wrong in your life right now’. He went on to exemplify why he was fondly named by the team as ‘Relax-man’ by explaining how practising mindfulness could create moments of peace in your life.

Next to the stage was neurodiversity consultant Rachel Morgan-Trimmer who combined wit, emotion and practicality in her talk ‘Inclusion is selfish’. Using personal stories about what inclusion is – and is not – she encouraged us to be a little bit selfish when it comes to inclusivity and stated that by getting it wrong, we can then get it right.

The pace and style then changed direction as John Cooper – performer, illustrator and writer – entertained us with his talk ‘Improvisation can change your life’ and a challenge to adopt improvisation as a tool to navigate life using better conversations.

Emma Baylin of Shared Harmonies CIC was last on stage. With interactive examples of how she champions connection, confidence and well-being through music, Emma’s talk explored the impact creative practices can have on your mindset. It was the perfect finale and left the audience upbeat and unexpectedly ‘Connecting with harmony’.

The event closed to rapturous applause and photo opportunities before the team, speakers and sponsors went on to celebrate at the VIP after-show party at The Terrace rooftop bar within San Lorenzo.

Reflecting on TEDxWarrington, Licensee and Organiser, Kirsty James, commented,

“My team and I are over the moon. It has been a challenging – yet rewarding – process for both the team and speakers during months of secret planning and rehearsals”.

“We wanted to create an event open to ordinary people to share their ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’ and where the audience could really connect”.

“The feedback about how authentic and emotional the talks were makes me extremely proud of what we created in Warrington. I genuinely feel that some something special took place that night and a new community involving speakers, team, sponsors and partners, created”.

As one speaker commented,

“I love the approach Kirsty adopted with TEDx to support local people. Despite the professional risks attached to that, she was brave, bold and pushed the boundaries to achieve her TEDx vision and clearly delivered an awesome event for Warrington!. The attention to detail in how we were looked after was also second to none – from the speaker coaching and marketing advice right through to emotional support and backstage styling and catering”.

An event of this magnitude cannot of course occur without significant investment of time and money. Along with the team, who worked tirelessly and voluntarily on this event, there was an exhaustive list of partners and sponsors who shared our TEDx values and supported the event financially. Thanks goes to: Pyramid Parr Hall, MKM Building Supplies Warrington, Rebecca Wray Coaching Consultancy, AND Digital, Joanna Williams Psychology & Wellbeing, Warrington & Co, EML, Democracy Counts, Show the Light Ltd, Adele Carr Recruitment, DATS, Warrington Worldwide, Beech Web Design, Just Headshots, The Odd Thing, San Lorenzo, Bubble Customised Clothing, Mamars at the Old Hall, Pure Hair & Beauty and Smart Furnishings.

View the official TEDxWarrington photo gallery by Andrew Collier Photography and Jane Burkinshaw. View the official TEDxWarrington talk playlist For information about future TEDxWarrington plans, visit


TEDxWarrington and Andrew Collier Photography

Editors Notes

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.)

About TED

TED is a non-profit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, often in the form of short talks delivered by leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED conferences, including our annual gathering in Vancouver, as well as TEDWomen, intimate TED Salons and thousands of independently organized TEDx events around the world. Videos of these talks are made available, free, on and other platforms. Audio versions of the talks from TED2019 are published to TED’s podcast TED Talks Daily, available on all podcast platforms.

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; TEDx, which licenses thousands of individuals and groups to host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities; the Audacious Project, which surfaces and funds critical ideas that have the potential to impact millions of lives; TEDSummit, which gathers the most engaged members of the global TED community for brainstorms, discussions, performances, workshops and an eclectic program of mainstage talks; and the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED also has a growing library of original podcasts, including The TED Interview with Chris Anderson, WorkLife with Adam Grant, TED en Español and Sincerely, X.

Follow TED on Twitter at, on Facebook at, on Instagram at and on LinkedIn at

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