Main Stage

      See our programme for a full list of speakers

      Eddie the Eagle

      Presenters

      Rotary conferences are renowned for their inspirational presenters, and ours will be no exception. 


      Michael 'Eddie the Eagle' Edwards - a man who dared to be different. Our conference dares to be somewhat different this year, and we couldn't think of anyone better who epitomises the qualities of having a clear vision, determination, commitment and showing others what can be achieved in the face of adversity - all of these chiming with the very essence of Rotary. The classic British underdog who jumped in - quite literally - and wowed the crowds at the 1988 Winter Olympics as Britain's first and only ski jumper, Eddie subsequently became world number nine at amateur speed skiing, recorded some Finnish pop songs, became a radio and TV presenter, took a degree in law, won celebrity diving show 'Splash', and has continued with his plastering trade! In 2016 a film of his life-story was released, starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman. (See the official trailer below).If that doesn't tell you that Eddie has a tale to tell, nothing will - a speaker not to be missed! You'll have the opportunity to ask him questions - if you are present on the day.
      This presentation will only be available live at the conference.

      Sophie Banham

      Caring for our World - A World Transitioning to Green Energy.

      It would be hard to miss the growing awareness amongst us all of the importance of caring for the environment, from micro level (all of us trying to 'do our bit'), to international macro level with renowned campaigners and political initiatives.

      Sophie Banham joins us as a keynote speaker, and reveals how technology can harness green energy for a growing population. Equinor is an energy company with more than 20,000 employees developing oil, gas, wind and solar energy in more than 30 countries, and Sophie is a Leading Business Developer in their New Energy Solutions department. 
      An alumna of Taunton's Queens College, Sophie has over ten years' experience in the development of new offshore wind farms. This work builds on Sophie's passion for the marine environment, which was gained through her undergraduate degree at Cardiff University. Sophie studied Marine Geography, gaining a BSc (Hons) and being awarded IMarEST's Young Marine Scientist of the year. Sophie has a particular interest in the development of new offshore wind farms as this combines a detailed understanding of the marine environment with innovative solutions to de-carbonise the world's energy supply. 
      A judge for the 'Young Imagineers' contest, she is a panel member alongside other international science experts and TV presenters Connie Huq and Dallas Campbell. Sophie is passionate about encouraging young people, particularly girls, to consider STEM as a career choice - in fact, she is intrigued by the move towards calling it STEAM, adding 'Arts' into the acronym to reflect the qualities of using your imagination and creativity in engineering, and to encourage recruitment. 
      Setting the 'Caring for our World' scene for our District Conference, Sophie brings in equal measure expertise and passion for caring for the environment. And hailing from Taunton itself, to boot!

      Join Sophie on social media!

      Proud mum and son - caring for others, caring for the environment

      Wendy O'Carroll founded the charity Ups and Downs Southwest after the birth of her son Oliver in 1996. 

      Wendy Hellowell and Oliver

      Oliver's diagnosis of Down Syndrome had come as a complete surprise as did his need for open heart surgery at 3 months old, but left Wendy with a burning need to reach out and support families in a similar position with reassurance and hope. She stepped down from her role as Chief Executive Officer in July 2016 after 20 years in the charity sector supporting parents, children and young people, and professionals across the UK. An accomplished speaker, Wendy enjoys providing motivational and informative lectures and presentations to both large and small audiences. Wendy uses the story of Oliver's journey to emphasise the critical need for our society to learn how to enjoy and celebrate difference, and to help us all realise how a positive and enthusiastic attitude can change lives. Wendy has spoken at Westminster and is renowned for her straight talking and cheery optimistic disposition and her determination to instigate and encourage positive awareness in a way which audiences find both memorable and entertaining.

      Books, cards, etc by Oliver will be on sale on Oliver's website. Check out some of Oliver's landscape photography there too.

      Oliver Hellowell Photography: https://www.oliverhellowell.com/

      Sadly, Wendy was unable to make a recording specifically for us. However she has kindly given us permission to show a talk she gave to some senior school pupils. Please don't be put off by it having been initially tailored to a different audience - her message is still a moving and powerful one. And you can also take a look at one of Oliver's appearances on The One Show - what a star!

      Join Oliver on social media and learn more...

      New leaf


      Pop over to Oliver's website to buy his books and prints

      Illustration

      Caring for our World - Caring about the aspirations of young people

      Simeon Moore is a writer, musician and advocate for young people. He was a member of a notorious Birmingham gang and now works to tackle what he sees as the glamorisation of gang culture, which gives young people aspirations to live negatively.

      He brings vision, creativity and influence to positively impact on their lives. Simeon and co-founder Dylan Duffus created DatsTV, a new YouTube channel aiming to challenge, and provide an alternative to those channels and music videos that glamorise gun and knife-culture and to encourage young people to walk away from gang violence.

      Simeon has been featured on Channel 4 News and the Huffington Post and in 2018 presented the BBC Radio 4 documentary Spitting Blades exploring the supposed relationship between urban art forms and knife violence. More recently, DatsTV was named one of Creative England’s CE50 for 2019, a list that highlights exceptional talent that will be central to the UK’s creative economy. Simeon is currently making a documentary about County Lines, where drug gangs are expanding their activities into small towns.

      Pre-recorded Film for the Conference

      Live Question and Answer session at the Conference...

      Michael Fernando 

      Next District Governor 2021/22

      Michael joined the Rotary Club of Yeovil with his wife, Katalin in 2012. Michael is a Consultant Paediatrician in Yeovil Hospital, where Katalin is a Consultant in Emergency Medicine. They have a young daughter, Charlotte.

      Michael Fernando

      Michael is a Member of the Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisors. This is a group of Rotarians who help evaluate projects (on a technical basis) to ensure that money spent by our charity, The Rotary Foundation, is used effectively. Most of these evaluations have been desk based, but Michael recently visited a Children’s Cancer Laboratory in Cyprus, which helped unite people there beyond political and social boundaries, by serving all on the island (as well as further afield) without cost to the children’s families.

      Michael served as Club President in 2017, was co-opted as an Assistant Governor in 2018 and went onto be voted in as District Governor for 2021. The projects he has been most proud of within Rotary include the District Project to rebuild a school in Nepal (destroyed by an earthquake) and a project to ‘Train Trainers’ in resuscitating babies at birth in Pakistan.

      Caring for our World - Caring about Animal Extinction

      According to the WWF, between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year, due to climatic heating or cooling, changes in sea levels, or direct human activity such as poaching for big game or tusks, or land development disrupting ecosystems.

      Illustration

      This shocking statistic tells us that more needs to be done to care for our world, and it's important to look at the causation of the extinction of all animals who, sadly, will never roam our earth again. (Though we may feel grateful that we're not face-to-face with flesh-eating dinosaurs!) So - welcome to our unique breakout session with Paul Wooding - T.Rex Autopsy.

      Taunton Deane resident and Bristol-based in his work, Paul Wooding is an award winning producer/ director, and Creative Director at Spark TV, and known for numerous productions including D-Day to Victory (Channel 4 2011), Smash Lab (Discovery 2007) and Backstage (BBC 1999). Having studied and achieved a Distinction in photography at Mid-Cheshire College of Art and Design, Paul's career has encompassed creating shows for major broadcasters worldwide, including many years with the BBC documentaries department including running The Holiday Programme. In-between, his love of cars has seen him be a rally driver - and three times LCAMC Champion. He was Executive Producer of T.Rex Autopsy, a specialist factual documentary for National Geographic, and winning huge acclaim when it was broadcast around the world. T.Rex Autopsy was a ground-breaking film of the dissection of the first-ever life-sized model of a T.Rex by a team of scientists including palaeontologists investigating the serious issue of how it may have lived and died: there was blood, guts and gore galore!

      Join Paul on the main stage - we guarantee excitement for adults and young people alike. Do you have the stomach for it?!

      Inner Wheel

      It's traditional for the current Inner Wheel Chairman to give a short address to the Rotary district conference, and whilst we may be doing things a little differently this year, we're still delighted to invite Maureen Nethaway, of District 20 to talk to us.

      See our programme for a full list of speakers