As part of the school’s Mercers’ lecture series, Dauntsey’s recently welcomed one of the world’s most talented offshore yachtsmen Alex Thomson and leading historian Dr Bettany Hughes to deliver fascinating talks to pupils and members of the local community.

Alex Thomson spoke at length about his experience sailing in the gruelling Vendee Globe race – the Everest of sailing. He explained that there are four years of hard work that go into each race and talked about managing his team, and the challenge of persuading his sponsors to fund each attempt at the race.

Dr Bettany Hughes visited Dauntsey’s to present a lecture on her new book recounting the diverse city of Istanbul titled Istanbul: A tale of Three Cities. Before the lecture, Dr Hughes joined a group of Sixth Formers for an hour’s discussion and dinner at the Head Master’s House. Conversation ranged from topics as diverse as the morals of industrialisation, to opiated wine which, according to Dr Hughes, the Ancient Greeks indulged in, which may well have been responsible for the wonders and fantasy described in the famous Iliad and Odyssey.

Dr Hughes’ lecture focused on her new book which she has spent the last decade researching and writing. Due to the current turbulence of Turkey’s government she expressed her discomfort of having to write and re-write her introduction and conclusion based on the ever-changing political circumstances of both Turkey and Istanbul itself.

One sixth former who attended both lectures said: “We feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to meet and talk to experts from the world of competitive sailing and history – two very diverse, but equally fascinating subjects. Both speakers were inspiring to listen to and made many of us think about our own achievements and life goals.”

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