25th November 2019 — The end of the first half term at Canford closed with the much anticipated Canford Festival of Ideas. The event saw the fruition of months of planning and a revised format by new festival organiser, Head of Enrichment, Tom Marriott. The theme for this year’s festival was ‘Identity and Diversity’ In the festival introduction, Mr Marriott said: “We live in increasingly complex and turbulent times. The modern world is continuously asking new questions of our identity on an individual, national and even global level. The answers to these questions will not come from closed minded or tribal thinking. The answers will come from listening to and learning from a genuinely diverse range of perspectives.”
The festival certainly delivered in terms of a vast range of speakers and the breadth of topics covered, from Adventurer and Travel Writer, Charlie Walker discussing his experiences travelling through sand and snow 43,000 miles on a bicycle, to Paul Whittaker, a deaf musician pursuing a career in the music industry. OC Maudie Fraser (D11) returned to Canford to tell her story of graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge to spend two years advocating for refugee rights, to then moving on to establish sixty:2, a pop-up restaurant using plant-based gastronomy. OC Dr Marie-Louise Sharp (S03), now a Senior Research Associate at the King’s Centre for Military Health Research at King’s College London returned to discuss her role in the research of help-seeking behaviours in the UK military, and the health and well-being of Emergency Responders.
Pupils were inspired and engaged by the range of speakers, with comments from them including: “The highlight of the festival for me was the huge range of speakers we had coming from all different walks of life. The theme was such a current topic and to have so many different views and opinions on the topic meant that I felt like my own understanding and view on the theme had been altered and broadened.”
“For me, Peter Tatchell and Charlie Walker were highlights of the festival. They both challenged my perception of what can be achieved with determination and a positive mindset. Overall it was an enlightening week which impacted each student in some form. I would personally like to thank Mr Marriott for his efforts in creating the week and I hope it is one which will be repeated annually.”
“I learnt that it is almost impossible to take something, whether it be a certain part of history or a recent political event, at face value, and that we should all thrive to push the boundaries of our understandings of the world.”
“My favourite speaker was Charlie Walker. He was quick witted, captivating and hugely inspiring. As someone who is looking to take a gap year he widened my imagination into what I may be able to do.”
Tom Marriott was delighted with the positive response to the festival: “Taking inspiration from the school vision to ‘explore, express and excel’ this year’s festival aimed to educate, challenge and excite pupils, staff and the wider Canford community and encourage them to debate and discuss. The diverse range of speakers from different walks of life offered fascinating and inspirational individual insights into identities and lives. Many thanks to everyone involved in making the festival such a success.”