Starry line-up for Chichester Speakers Festival

Big names will gather for the Chichester Speakers Festival 2017 at The Assembly Rooms, North Street on February 24 and 25 (

Manager Marc Rattray
Manager Marc Rattray

Manager Marc Rattray said: “The festival brings together some of the most exciting speakers in the UK.

“General Lord Dannatt, former Chief of Staff of the British Army, tells the history of the army’s role against a backdrop of shifting security and defence policies. The celebrated BBC foreign correspondent, John Simpson, gives us the pivotal moments of our nation’s story through the eyes of journalists in the field.

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“Marina Benjamin helps her listeners understand how to navigate life’s ‘middlepause’, and Liam Byrne, former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, tells the story of Britain’s entrepreneurs. Erwin James, who was convicted of murder in 1984, tells the story of his redemption and emergence from illiteracy to writer and professional journalist for The Guardian. Lord David Owen relates the cabinet’s finest hour during World War Two and the meetings that led Britain away from suing for peace to war. Denis MacShane, former Minister for Europe, and Iain Martin, former editor of The Scotsman, debate the implications of Brexit in terms of security, economy and trade. Luke Harding, a foreign correspondent for The Guardian, tells the story of Alexander Litvinenko’s poisoning at the hands of the Russian state in London by radioactive poisoning, and Andrew Monaghan, of Chatham House, gives a fascinating insight into the new politics of Russia. Former editor of The Times, Peter Stothard, tells the story of Margaret Thatcher’s inner circle, and Harry Mount explains the summer madness of 2016 that saw the vicious break-up of Cameron’s government and the emergence of Theresa May as PM. Peter Clark, who lived in Syria, explains what life was life in Syria, under the Assads and finally, best-selling historian Alison Weir, gives insight into the life of the lost Tudor princess, Margaret Douglas.”

Marc has been running speakers festivals in Lewes for the past five and a half years and is delighted at his success so far in setting up something similar in Chichester. This will be its third running: “The first one was April last year and then we had October last year. The idea is to do them twice a year, every six months.”

He is also developing the idea in Winchester and Portsmouth.

It’s about fitting the speakers to the venue. He strongly believes in keeping it short, a weekend’s worth of speakers and then moving on rather than straggling it out. Keeping it simple for people attending is the fact that Marc has devised a whole range of tickets, depending just who you want to see and how long you want to stay. The festival pass is £65 and includes all events for all dates; a one-day pass is £45 available for either day. Single tickets cost £10 for each individual talk. Two tickets to one talk are £9.50 each, three or more for £9 each. Tickets on 0333 666 3366.

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