PLENARY SPEAKERS

We are delighted to welcome our inspiring plenary speakers to this year's event.

Dame Kelly Holmes - Wednesday 3 July 

Dame Kelly Holmes is an outstanding motivational and after dinner speaker, and shares how she overcame adversity to achieve her lifelong dream and win Olympic Gold.

Double Olympic Champion Dame Kelly Holmes is one of the UK’s most famous athletes, respected throughout the world as a role model and an inspiration.

Setting and holding the British records in the 600m, 800m and 1000m, Dame Kelly Holmes is an Olympic, Commonwealth and European champion that has achieved seven Gold, eight Silver and four Bronze medals throughout her career. This includes her double win in the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, becoming the first Briton in over 80 years to do so. After her Olympic success, she won BBC Sports Personality of the Year, European Athlete of the Year and was honoured with a Damehood from the Queen.

However, before Dame Kelly started winning gold medals, her career was overshadowed by injury and disappointment. She draws on how she found the determination and dedication to overcome this in her talks, and she emphasises that we can all overcome our hardships, especially in the workplace, just as she did.

She uses vital information from her life as a physical training instructor in the British Army, as well as her athletics career and role as The National School Sport Champion, to bring about effective team building sessions that are motivational, empowering and highlight the importance of sport and making sure you look after yourself.

 

Jonny Benjamin MBE and Neil Laybourn - Tuesday 2 July 

Jonny Benjamin MBE is an award-winning mental health campaigner, film producer, public speaker, writer and vlogger.

At the age of 20 he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar, and later began making films on YouTube about the condition that have been watched by hundreds of thousands of people.

Jonny now speaks publicly about living with mental illness and has written articles and given various interviews on TV, Radio and in print around the world to help educate and break stigma. He has also produced and presented documentaries on BBC Three and Channel 4 on the subjects of mental health and suicide.

His 2014 social media campaign with Rethink Mental Illness to #findMike, the man who talked him out of jumping off a bridge when he was suicidal, when viral and led to Jonny becoming a prominent spokesperson on the subject of suicide.

In 2016 Jonny launched ThinkWell, a mental health programme for schools, which has so far been into secondary schools across the UK with huge success. He is currently developing a mental health workshop for primary schools. 

Jonny spent 2017 writing the first of 2 books on mental health entitled The Stranger On The Bridge which was published by Pan Macmillan in May 2018. 

Neil Laybourn, founder of This Can Happen, never imagined that a chance meeting on Waterloo Bridge in London would change the course of his life.

Ten years ago Neil walked past Jonny Benjamin, sitting by the bridge, contemplating taking his own life. He stopped to talk to him and persuaded him to take a step back. The pair went their separate ways and 6 years later, a after a high profile social media search, dubbed the #FindMike campaign, Jonny found the stranger who saved his life.

The pair has spent the last 4 years helping organisations from schools and universities to large corporates and everybody in-between in the UK and across the world eradicate the stigma of mental health and offer real support to workers facing challenges.

In 2014 Neil was recognised with a Pride of Britain award for his part in the #FindMike campaign. In 2017 he came up with the idea for This Can Happen – an innovative mental health conference tackling challenges in the workplace and bringing solutions and practical ideas to employers and leadership teams to help them look after their staff and colleagues in real-life, meaningful ways.

In the same year Neil co-founded the international mental health campaigning organisation You Alright Mate to bring business leaders, fellow campaigners and international support organisations together.

Most recently Neil co-founded the charity Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma to raise funds for preventative mental health and young people’s mental health solutions and in July he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Bristol University for work in mental health campaigning and advocacy work, alongside Jonny.

 

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