Digital Arts & Creative Technology

TEDxMacclesfield event about ideas is a sell-out success

The inaugural TEDxMacclesfield was a spectacular sell-out success, showcasing speakers tackling some of humanity’s biggest questions with humour, optimism and insight. The eight short talks were in the spirit of TED, the international non-profit organisation devoted to ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’.

The event – organised entirely by volunteers – took place on Saturday 28th April at Townley Street Chapel. The graphic design and animations (by Andy Beksa) and stage set (by Anna Riordan) depicted the Macclesfield skyline complete with the crenellations of Christ Church and flag flying from the Town Hall! There was a lanyard with Macclesfield silk cord for each audience member and a goody bag (curated by PhliippaBeksa) made from back issues of the Macclesfield Express and stuffed with promotions, souvenirs and handmade treats from the volunteer team.


Nine speakers, all with a strong connection to Macclesfield and most of whom live in the town, talked passionately about ideas which drive them. Many are leaders in their field.


Emmanual Botwe, headteacher at Tytherington School: How to change a community by asking one simple question

Christine Tacon, Groceries Code Adjudicator (supermarkets ombudsman): Curbing supermarkets power: is punishment the answer?

Clay Nikiforuk, performer, writer, formerly compere of MaccLaughs: Rethinking the story of mental illness

Kate Fletcher, Research Professor in sustainable fashion, University of the Arts, London : Usership: fashion beyond consumerism

Cathy Parker, Professor of Marketing and Retail Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University: Why some towns thrive and others don’t

Matthew Baqueriza-Jackson, until recently Deputy CEO, Centre for Local Economic Strategies: Changing spending, changing lives

Sarah Bird & Rowan Hoban, Wild Rumpus CIC: We need to talk about nature

Mathieu Isidro, Deputy Communications Manager, Square Kilometer Array, based at Jodrell Bank: How the world is coming together to build a time machine.


The audience was moved, inspired and uplifted by the energy and orginality of the ideas. Speakers were filmed and the talks will be made available to a global online audience of 10 million subscribers through the TEDx YouTube channel.


The event was organised by Lynne Jones and Jude D’Souza, both of whom have been involved in running Macclesfield’s Barnaby Festival.Jude said: “I never dreamed we would have a line-up that would change peoples’ lives in the way these speakers have begun to. The ideas have opened minds and changed perspectives among our audience. From those realising how hostile an environment we create for those quietly suffering with mental health issues to those now grasping the wider impact of where they spend their money; from the office worker who will have their next meeting outdoors to the person who will opt to adapt that jacket rather than throw it away; Even the people who will take a moment today to simply ask a colleague how their day is going.”

All the speakers commented on how brilliant, if terrifying the experience had been – life on the ‘metaphorical high wire’ as one of them put it! All thanked the team of two dozen volunteers for their commitment, professionalism and enthusiasm.

Prof Cathy Parker, said: “Thank you so much to the team for the opportunity, the outstanding organisation and professional input into our stories.It has been the most important personal and professional development experience I have gone through in the last 20 years.”


In her role as the Chair of the Institute of Place Management, Manchester Metropolitan University, Professor Parker was particularly impressed by the intention to use the TEDx event to have an impact locally: “Selecting speakers who live locally showed just how much talent there is in the town. The audience were also mostly local people, so they will embed this new thinking locally.Having such an exciting event in the town makes more connections between people and builds the capacity for the town, as a whole, to develop… The more opportunities from people to network, collaborate and be inspired, the more this will strengthen the town… People make places”.


Mathieu Isidro of the Square Kilometer Array said: “ I’m personally extremely grateful for the opportunity to have given a talk.We [at the SKA] spend a lot of energy engaging with local communities near the SKA’s sites in South Africa and Australia, so it was good for once to give back to this local community in Macclesfield about the exciting science collaboration that is happening in our collective backyard.All of the talks were fascinating, and I’ve been in awe of the creativity, passion, and diversity that Macc has to offer. I’m very happy to be a part of this vibrant town.”


Audience member Hephzibah Ramage summed up the reaction of the audience, posting on facebook: “Wow, wow, wow. What a brilliant morning. I have been inspired, laughed and made to feel proud of where I live and was born.”  


The videos of the speakers and performers will be uploaded to TED who will publish them on their YouTube site in due course, details on


Co-organiser Lynne Jones thanked all those who took part, supported or funded the event, and added “We’re already thinking of how to capitalise on the connections made and conversations started at the event for the benefit of Macclesfield”.


Images:  via Flickr please credit Travelling Simon Photography for TEDxMacclesfield


Notes to editors

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

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, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. 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 nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available, free, on TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Monica Lewinsky, Philippe Starck, NgoziOkonjo-Iweala,Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.


TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from thousands of volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a “wish,” or idea, to create change in the world; TEDx, which provides licenses to  thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.