2016/2017 Lectures

4th October 2016


Tim Mosedale

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Tim Mosedale leads expeditions on Everest and has successfully climbed the mountain four times (possibly five by the time of the talk!). He was on the mountain at Camp 1 when the 2015 earthquake struck.

Tim has over 35 expeditions under his belt, and showed some of his Everest footage. He shared some of his anecdotes to give something of an insight in to what it is like to be a leader and what expedition life can really be like.

18th October 2016

High Cs on the High Seas

Kathy Lewis

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Kathy is a highly experienced Soprano, and for many years she performed in Concert halls and Theatres with distinguished artists and orchestras.

Her talk covers the period when she was approached by P & O and asked to perform as a Guest Entertainer on cruise ships around the world. She has some wonderful tales to tell, and this lighthearted and amusing talk is full of anecdotes about her experiences at sea.



1st November 2016

Great Forgers

Jim Williams

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The boundary between a forgery and an homage or honest copy is not always obvious, and some of the great artists have turned their hands to forgery in order to pay the bills. This lecture focuses on great 20th century forgeries, including the man who sold a fake Vermeer to Hermann Goering and the forging of the autobiography of Howard Hughes. The centrepiece is a unique take on the Hitler Diaries forgery scandal, which you will unable to hear anywhere else.

Jim Williams is by training a barrister and practised as an international construction lawyer. He is an internationally published novelist and former nominee for the Booker Prize.

15th November 2016

Russia and Europe: What Next?

John Pilkington

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John Pilkington is a great traveller who has spoken to Keswick Lecture Society many times. He has always loved eastern Europe and thought that 2015 seemed the perfect time to get to know it better and discover the stories behind the news headlines.
Passions are running high in Ukraine and the breakaway states of the Caucasus. Vladimir Putin’s adventures in Ukraine took the West rather by surprise, but in some ways John felt they followed a pattern that goes back more than a century to the legendary ‘Great Game’ between Russia and Britain in Victorian times.
John visited two places that have hosted the most horrible events in the region’s history – Auschwitz and Chernobyl. The trip was both upsetting and at the same time incredibly heartwarming, but after five months of talking to people on both sides he’s none the wiser about what Mr Putin is planning. However John did get a surprising insight into the Russian and Ukrainian people, their sadness about past and present conflicts, and the practical steps some of them are taking towards a calmer future.

29th November 2016

Diplomacy with Dictators: from Milosevic to Mugabe

Sir Brian Donnelly

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Sir Brian Donnelly, former British Ambassador to Serbia/Montenegro and to Zimbabwe, talked about his life in the Diplomatic Service with particular emphasis on the difficulties of practicing diplomacy in Belgrade during the run up to the Kosovo war in 1997 and then in Harare during the political turmoil between 2001 and 2004.

He drew on his wider experiences in dealing with problems as diverse as Northern Ireland, nuclear proliferation, European Union negotiations and Greek politics to explain what it is that diplomats really do when they are not sipping cocktails and eating canapés.

17th January 2017

Across Siberia in the Steps of Victorian Nurse Kate Marsden

Jacki Hill-Murphy

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Jacki Hill-Murphy has travelled to some of the most inhospitable places on earth to re-create the journeys of daring women adventurers from the past. In tracking four valiant women who left inhibition at home and journeyed into the unknown, Hill-Murphy pays tribute to their invincible spirits and achievements. She has followed in the footsteps of Victorian explorers Isabella Bird who travelled by yak across the Digar-La Pass in Ladakh, India, Mary Kingsley, who pioneered the route to the 13,255 summit of Mount Cameroon, and Kate Marsden who trudged from Moscow to Siberia in search of a cure for leprosy. Hill-Murphy also braved piranha-infested waters in a dugout canoe to replicate the 1769 expedition of Isabel Godin, the only survivor of a 42-person, 3000-mile expedition along the Amazon River.

This talk tells the story of Kate Marsden, a controversial nurse who made one of the hardest journeys ever done by a female across Russia and Siberia in 1891. She travelled by sledge and on horseback, sometimes at -50C, searching for evidence of lepers. Kate fundraised for a leper colony to be built but her life was overtaken by shocking newspaper headlines that put an end to her career and sanity. Jacki has recreated her journey by public transport, found the remains of the leper colony and is now involved in humanitarian work in Yakutia.

31st January 2017

A Calendar Girl’s Story

Tricia Stewart

Tricia Stewart edited

This is the story of the famous calendar, and how and why a group of ladies decided in April 1999 to bare all for their local hospital. Tricia was the instigator of the Alternative WI Calendar and had come up with the idea of a calendar featuring crafts of the WI with the girls in the nude, but nothing came of it. However it was after her close friend’s husband contracted non Hodgkins Lymphoma from which he died that she pursued the idea again to raise funds for research, and received a great deal of support from her friends in Rylstone & District WI. The effect of the calendar was expected to last 3 weeks but 17 years later it is still going strong with a film, a stage play and now a musical written by Gary Barlow.
And the Calendar Girls have raised over £4,000,000 for Leukaemia Research!

14th February 2017

In Search of Myths and Heroes

Steve Razzetti

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Steve Razzetti was a stills photographer for the BBC series “In Search of Myths and Heroes”. The project started in Nepal and a frantic year ensued during which the team made almost a dozen filming trips to India, Nepal, Tibet, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Georgia, Greece, Turkey, finishing with filming a program about King Arthur in the British Isles and France.

His photographs illustrate the BBC Worldwide Publications book that accompanied the series. In this talk Steve will attempt to convey what it is like travelling the world with a very light weight, mobile filming team; on most trips the team comprised just four people.

28th February 2017

Saving the Settle & Carlisle Railway

Stan Abbott

Stan Abbottt edited
The successful campaign to save the Settle & Carlisle Railway.

The talk will open with reference to the floods in Cumbria last December, which also caused a major landslide in the Eden Valley – this was an event that would undoubtedly have spelled the “end of the line” not so long ago and so sets the scene to explain how this successful campaign came to be a watershed for railways in the UK in general.

Stan will explain the unusual genesis of the Settle to Carlisle railway line, and the qualities that set it apart from most other lines that were built in the age of “railway mania”. He will go on to cover the tactic of “closure by stealth” that preceded the attempt to close the line, and explain how a variety of factors came together to deliver a successful outcome to the campaign to save after years of popular and political campaigning.

Finally, he will look at what has happened on the line over the last 25 years and how this has influenced other positive developments elsewhere on the rail network, concluding by looking at the prospects for investment in other unfavoured routes, including some reference to the former line from Penrith to Keswick and Cockermouth.

Paul Ross

Paul Ross 1 editedPaul Ross was one of the leading climbers in the 1950s and 1960s. He started climbing back in 1953 by soloing easier climbs on his local cliff, Shepherds Crag in Borrowdale and a year later led his first new route, Troutdale Pinnacle Super direct (HVS) on Black Crag in Borrowdale. Paul made a total of 138 first ascents, many considered extreme even by today’s standards. He worked as an instructor at Ullswater Outward Bound School.
By the early 60’s Paul was suffering crippling effects of repeated falls and motor bike crashes and after periods of hospitalisation opened a climbers café and folk club, The Lamplighter, in Lake Road where he was often joined by Chris Bonington’s wife Wendy, who had a voice on a par with Joan Baez.
In 1968 Paul left for the US working for some time for Outward Bound. Over the next 20 years, as well as becoming a deputy sheriff and a politician, he climbed El Capitan in Yosemite and put up an impressive array of new routes in a number of US States.
The presentation will include expeditions to The Alps with Chris Bonington and Don Whillans.