Life Lessons at Chiswick House

A weekend of conversations and debates from brilliant minds, in the gardens of Chiswick House.

Life Lessons is a new festival for Chiswick. Postponed from an earlier date because of Covid regulations, organisers the Sunday Times are excited to announce the new line up of world-class speakers at Life Lessons 2021. Claudia Winkleman, Ruby Wax, Prof Brian Cox, Mary Portas, Pandora Sykes, and many more will be taking to the stage and sharing their big ideas this July.

They will ask: How can we live better? How can we eat better, sleep better, feel better…? How can we live more sustainably? And in better communities?

‘We’ll be diving into all things well-being! You can expect fascinating talks, workshops, street food and bars, origami, and meditation with Lexus, Dr k’s Lifestyle Clinic, a marketplace, and much more! All offering you a fresh perspective on how to live a happier, healthier, more connected, and more inspired life’.

The programme is of course subject to change. If we weren’t already used to that, we certainly have become so over the past year. Currently it’s looking like this:

Images above: Dr Rangan Chatterjee; Ruby Wax

Friday 16 July Afternoon 1.00 – 5.00 pm

Health: From Nutrition to Fitness, Immunity and More

Talk 1: Professor Robert Thomas 

One of the UK’s leading oncologists, Professor Robert Thomas, believes in a 360 approach to health. In this session, he’ll examine how diet is linked to immunity and what we can eat in order to stay healthy. He’ll ask whether diet can be the key to supporting medicine and indeed, preventing the need for it.

Talk 2: Dr Alan Desmond

For the vegan-curious, a myth-debunking session from plant-based expert and NHS consultant, Dr Alan Desmond. From gut health to blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol, this talk will take the confusion out of plant-based eating and provide practical tips in integrating it into everyday life.

Talk 3: Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Meet the man behind Europe’s most successful Health podcast, Feel Better, Live More. Dr Rangan Chatterjee joins us on a mission to leave quick fix diets behind and provide a route to sustainable weight loss and improved physical and mental wellbeing that’s lifestyle-first – this talk will be full of simple, practical advice that all of us can start implementing into our lives immediately.

Friday 16 July Evening 6.00 – 9.30 pm

The Mind & Mental Health, Brain Health and Neuroscience

Talk 1: William Sieghart

The Poetry Pharmacy believes this simple thing: that when we are most in need of comfort, a poem can often best express and work through our emotions. Join them for this fun session and take the time out to stop, listen and find exactly the right prescription for your heart, mind and soul.

Talk 2: Kimberley Wilson

The brain is arguably the most important organ in our body. But how can we keep it healthy? How do we future proof it, give it the nutrients it needs and help it function at its optimum? Join expert Kimberley Wilson for a fact-driven talk packed with practical advice on building a healthy brain.

Author of – How to Build a Healthy Brain: Reduce stress, anxiety and depression and future-proof your brain.

Talk 3: Ruby Wax

Let’s face it, we all need some good news right now. Lucky that Ruby Wax – comedian, mental health expert and campaigner extraordinaire – has just the answer! Join her for an enlightening, funny, heart-warming talk as she pulls back the clouds and shows us the sunshine.

Ticket holders for this session will receive a copy of Ruby’s book –And Now For The Good News…: The much-needed tonic for our frazzled world.

Images above: Mary Portas; Robin Ince & Brian Cox

Saturday 17 July Afternoon 1.00 – 5.00 pm

Society and Community

Talk 1: Magid Magid 

A Somali-born black Muslim refugee, Magid Magid overcame adversity to become a Lord Mayor – and to ban Donald Trump from Sheffield. Radical, loving, funny and heart-warming, join Magid Magid as he gives us his recipe for disrupting the status quo and his dreams for a better society.

Talk 2: Nikesh Shukla and Emma Dabiri

Welcome to your masterclass in difficult conversations, where we ask: what’s next after BLM? How can we turn anger into everyday activism? How can we foster positive conversations about race, injustice and allyship? And how can we raise young people to do better than we’ve done?

Joining this panel is the brilliant journalist and host of podcast Brown Baby, Nikesh Shukla and author of What White People Can Do Next, Emma Dabiri.

Talk 3: Mary Portas

Business has done the biggest, fastest and cheapest; but what if it were to do the best? For us and the planet? Balancing the key principles of profit and social progress, Mary Portas asks in this conversation: what if we all just re-set and spent our money a bit better?

Attendees of this session will receive: Rebuild: How to thrive in the new Kindness Economy by Mary Portas.

Saturday 17 July Evening 6.00 – 9.30 pm

Nature, Science and the Universe

Talk 1: Bella Lack

For many, the climate crisis = despair. But where exactly are we? On the big picture – on policy, government action and international accord? And what can each and every one of us in our daily lives do to truly make a difference?

Bella Lack, 18 year-old climate activist, TEDX talker and colleague of Jane Goodall, as they get to grips with all this and more.

Talk 2: Professor Jim Al-Khalili, James Ball + two more speakers TBC

No one could have predicted all the many ways in which the pandemic has affected science, people and the planet. It’s been embroiled in economics, international power play, fake news and climate change. It’s taken us on a long journey, but where’s next?

Joining this panel is eminent science communicator and physicist, Prof. Jim Al-Khalili and two more very exciting scientists coming soon. Hosted by journalist and author, James Ball.

Talk 3: Professor Brian Cox & Robert Ince

From one of the biggest brains on the planet comes a conversation about the universe: about the life lessons it can teach us; and about balance and order.

Attendees of this session will receive a copy of Universal by Professor Brian Cox.

Images above: Chris Packham; Pandora Sykes

Sunday 18 July Morning 10.00 am – 1.30 pm

Living Better Together, Sustainably and More Simply

Talk 1: Julia Bradbury

One of the UK’s most loved TV presenters joins Life Lessons for a conversation about nature, mental health and conservation.

Bio: Julia Bradbury is a television presenter and outdoor walking enthusiast who has dedicated her career to sharing beautiful walks from all over the world. Passionate about conservation, she’s an eco-activist promoting a plastic-free environment.

Talk 2: Chris Packham

One of the UK’s most beloved naturalists, Chris Packham, joins life lessons to discuss conservationism, eco-activism and the little things we can do in our everyday lives to protect nature and wildlife.

Back To Nature: how to love life – and save it by Chris Packham & Megan McCubin

Talk 3: Simon Reeve

From life on the dole, to a TV presenter with over 20 series and more than 120 countries under his belt, Simon Reeve’s personal story is one of an extraordinary climb out of adversity. But his travels around the world have taught him much about community, climate change and what it means to be human. Join him for this fireside chat as he reflects on some of the greatest life lessons he’s learned in his career thus far.

Attendees of this session will receive a copy of his book – Step by Step: The Life In My Journeys

Sunday 18 July Afternoon 2.30 – 6.00pm

Overcoming Adversity and Learning from Those All-Important Life Lessons

Talk 1: Professor Christie Watson

We’ve clanged our pans for them, but do we really know the extent of what nurses do? From the nurses in the community, care-homes, military, schools and more? And how much courage it takes to care? Bestselling author and nurse of over 20 years, Christie Watson, shares her insights into the strength of the human heart in this moving and inspirational conversation.

Christie Watson is a writer and Professor of Medical and Health Humanities. She is Patron of the Royal College of Nursing Foundation. Tiny Sunbirds Far Away won the Costa First Novel Award and along with her second novel, Where Women Are Kings, was widely translated and achieved international critical acclaim. The Language of Kindness, published in 2018, was a number one Sunday Times bestseller and Book of the Year in the Evening Standard, Guardian, i, New Statesman, the Sunday Times and The Times. It has been translated into 23 languages, and adapted for theatre.

The Courage to Care: a call for compassion was published in September 2020

Talk 2: Pandora Sykes

Modern life is full of choices. But how do we know what our best life looks like? And what if we get it wrong? Join journalist, author and one half of the phenomenon, The High Low, Pandora Sykes as she explores the questions, anxieties and agendas that consume our modern lives.

How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right?: essays on modern life by Pandora Sykes. Published May 2021, RRP £8.99


Pandora Sykes is a journalist and broadcaster. She has written for the Sunday Times, Vogue, ELLE and the Telegraph amongst other publications, and was the co-host of The High Low, the UK’s No.1 podcast for women. She lives in London. This is her first book.

Talk 3: Claudia Winkleman

Friendship, family and the little things in life that help us get through the day… Join the nation’s beloved broadcaster, Claudia Winkleman, as she shares some of the heartfelt (and completely irreverent) lessons she’s learned from her career in showbiz and life thus far.

Ticket holders for this session will receive a copy of Claudia’s book Quite.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday 28 April if you sign up for their newsletter and on Thursday 29 they go on general sale.

This page is paid for by the Life Lessons festival.

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