The Peake Lectures are an inspiring school lecture series initiated as part of the celebrations for the 180th anniversary of Eltham College. Named in honour of Mervyn Peake, a distinguished alumnus of the school, these lectures aim to educate and motivate our students, the school community and the wider community, by inviting noteworthy speakers to share their experiences and insights on diverse topics.
Mervyn Peake was a highly gifted artist, writer, poet, and illustrator who attended Eltham College from 1925 to 1929. During his time there, his remarkable writing abilities were recognized by his English teacher, Mr. Drake. He went on to become a prominent literary figure, best known for his ‘Gormenghast books’, a series of novels that showcased his unique style, heavily influenced by Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson.
In addition to his novels, Peake was also an accomplished painter and illustrator, with his works now being held in prestigious institutions such as the National Portrait Gallery, Imperial War Museum, and The National Archives. Peake’s legacy continues to inspire and influence generations of artists and writers.
Professor Harry Cliff, a particle physicist at Cambridge University, was the inaugural speaker for Eltham College’s new lecture series named after former pupil, author and artist, Mervyn Peake. Professor Cliff’s talk, titled “How to Make an Apple Pie from Scratch – in search of the recipe for our universe,” took the audience on a journey from the origins of atoms to the Big Bang in search of a modern understanding of the universe.
With his expertise in explaining complex concepts in simple terms, Professor Cliff engaged the audience with his exploration of the role of matter and anti-matter and their relevance to daily life. He also shared his experience working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHCb) experiment and his passion for science communication, having given public lectures and made numerous TV and radio appearances.
Overall, the lecture was a stimulating evening for all!
Chris Jagger, an Old Elthamian, was the guest speaker for the second Peake Lecture series at Eltham College. Chris is a talented actor, author, and musician.
During the event, Chris shared fascinating stories about his life and career, read excerpts from his new book ‘Talking to Myself’, and performed songs with Charlie Hart from his latest album ‘Mixing up the Medicine’.
Chris Jagger has had a successful career in the entertainment industry, which spans over 50 years. He has acted in various movies and TV shows and has written several books. However, he is most well-known for his music career, where he has released numerous albums and performed in various parts of the world. Chris spoke passionately about his journey, his inspiration, and his new work. The event was a great success.
Alex Hibbert is a polar explorer, author, and filmmaker who has spent over 15 years travelling and working in some of the most remote regions of the world. In his Peake Lecture at Eltham College, he spoke about his experiences on expeditions to the Arctic region, including his solo journey on skis and on foot to the North Pole.
He discussed the geography, people, economy and geo-political significance of the vast Arctic region, emphasising the importance of understanding the impact of climate change on this area. He also talked about the importance of failure, encouraging the audience to embrace and learn from their failures.
In addition to his own journey, Hibbert talked about the important role of sled dogs in polar exploration and how he trained and cared for his own team. The talk was followed by a Q&A session, during which the audience had the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about Hibbert’s experiences in the Arctic.
At the Peake Lecture, Professor Michael Clarke spoke about the Ukraine Crisis and its impact on international relations. Professor Clarke is a renowned expert in the fields of defence, security, and foreign policy, and has advised several UK governments on these matters.
He presented a war and peace perspective on the crisis, discussing the history and background of the conflict and the various actors involved, including Russia, Ukraine, and NATO. He also analysed the geopolitical significance of the crisis and its wider implications for international relations, particularly in terms of Europe’s security and the West’s relations with Russia.
In addition, Professor Clarke touched upon the role of propaganda and media in shaping public opinion and political decision-making in the context of the crisis. Overall, his lecture provided a thought-provoking and insightful analysis of one of the most significant international crises of recent times.
We were please to welcome Professor Kevin Fong who spoke about “The Anatomy of Hope on the front line during the COVID pandemic.” Fong is a renowned consultant, professor, and lecturer, with a career that spans medicine, science, and television. He is an expert in space medicine, co-director of the Centre for Aviation Space and Extreme Environment Medicine (CASE Medicine) at University College London, and also serves as a prehospital doctor with Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex.
During his lecture, Fong shared his experiences and insights as a frontline healthcare worker during the pandemic, offering a unique perspective on the importance of hope in challenging times. He drew on his expertise in physiology and medicine to explain how hope is not just a feeling, but a critical component of our physical and mental resilience. Fong’s lecture was a thought-provoking and inspiring exploration of the human spirit, and a reminder of the importance of hope in even the darkest of times.
We are thrilled to invite you to an evening with Cerrie Burnell, a renowned Broadcaster, Actress, and Author, as the guest for the upcoming Peake Lecture. Cerrie’s vibrant presence on BBC children’s programmes and her role as a co-presenter during various BBC Paralympics broadcasts have captivated many.
Cerrie’s impact goes beyond her artistic endeavours, as she has emerged as a true advocate for inclusivity and a beacon of inspiration in raising awareness about disability.
This special evening, on Thursday 15 June, will allow you to listen to her incredible journey first-hand, and be inspired by her unwavering passion for making a difference.