TEDxMacclesfield: x = independently organized TED eventTEDxMacclesfield: x = independently organised TED event

TEDx Macclesfield ran in 2018 & 2019. No future TEDx events are planned by the organisers, but contact us if you're interested in applying for licence from TED, we'd be happy to help.

Townley St Chapel, Macclesfield
10am - 1.30pm, Saturday 4th May 2019 Map









A morning of ‘ideas worth spreading’: talks to challenge, educate and inspire, an event to spark conversations and make connections.

Watch TEDxMacclesfield 2019 talks and performances here

View photos from the event


  • Dr Ailsa Holland
  • Prof Barbara Evans
  • Dr Rachael Ainsworth
  • Shelley Metcalfe
  • Paul Robinshaw
  • Alistair Hudson
  • Esther Bird
  • Victoria Scholes

    Event host


About TEDx

TED and TEDx speakers tackle humanity's toughest questions, attempting to answer them with innovation, enterprise and enduring optimism.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organisation devoted to ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. Started as a four-day conference of short talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design in California 30 years ago, TED has grown and expanded to support its mission. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman. The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia.

TED's media initiatives include TED.com, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organised TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows programme, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.


About TEDx

x = independently organised event

In the spirit of ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’, TEDx is a programme of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxMacclesfield, where x = independently organised TED event, a morning of live speakers to spark discussion, make connections and start community conversations. (The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx programme, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organised, subject to certain rules and regulations).

About TEDx Macclesfield

TEDx Macclesfield brings speakers and/or ideas on a wide range of topics which have a connection or resonance with Macclesfield. Our intention is to ignite exciting conversations, engage members of the community and create a catalyst for positive change at local and perhaps even national level. Cultural developments within Macclesfield over the last decade have proved the wide-reaching impact that passionate individuals can have on the town. We aim to build on this by spreading new ideas and unheard voices to an open-minded audience.

Like all TEDx events, this is a nonprofit enterprise, run by volunteers, funded by local business partners and speakers are not paid. The TED licence conditions limit the live audience to 100 and tickets are sold online only. Join our mailing list for updates.

  • Macclesfield
  • Venue
  • Organisers

About Macclesfield

Macclesfield is one of Cheshire’s original market towns, with a charter dating back over 750 years. Enjoying breathtaking views of the wild and dramatic Peak District National Park, Macc (as it’s called) is perhaps best known for being a hub of the silk trade. It once boasted over 70 silk mills and was the world's’ biggest producer of silk - a tradition which continues today.

Another popular association stems from an ancient incident in which it’s said a horse-drawn cart spilt its cargo of treacle in the centre of town. The poor eagerly scooped it up leading to the moniker ‘Treacle Town’, also the name of the town’s hugely successful monthly Treacle Market.

Macclesfield is the original home of flour and bread producer Hovis and renowned furniture shop Arighi Bianchi which was founded in the 19th century and has helped furnish royal residences. The town is now better known for pharmaceuticals, medical communications and digital and creative businesses - the hugely popular smartphone app Angry Birds was published in Macc.

Photo by Simon Brown - travellingsimon.com

Famous as the home of cult post-punk band Joy Division, visitors come from across the world to pay their respects at the grave of lead singer and songwriter Ian Curtis.

In recent years Macclesfield has developed a vibrant cultural scene of musicians, writers and visual artists of all disciplines as well as collectives and community groups. The Barnaby Festival, a wide-ranging cultural celebration founded in 2010 which took an annual factory workers’ holiday for its namesake, became a catalyst for groups and events including Community ArtSpace, Loominus, The Print Mill, Macclesfield Garden Festival and Potato Riot. All were instigated voluntarily by passionate members of the local community. TEDxMacclesfield intends to continue this trend by bringing new ideas to spark constructive conversations.

About the venue

Townley Street Chapel was built in 1788 of plain brick as a Calvinist Chapel by a splinter group from the King Edward Street Chapel after it became a Unitarian place of worship. In 1877, the larger United Reformed Church on Park Green was built and connected to the Townley Street Chapel, which later became used as a day school. Renovated in 2015, the hall is used by a wide variety of community groups including Macclesfield Barnaby Festival which, in 2016, showed an exclusively commissioned video installation by Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams.

The hall and adjacent areas are accessible and there is a disabled toilet. Please use the form at the bottom of the website to contact us with any questions, to discuss specific requirements or if using a wheelchair.

About the organisers

Lynne Jones

Lynne is an award-winning current affairs documentary producer and editor with more than 25 years experience at the BBC in London and Manchester. She specialises in hard-hitting, original journalism for flagship programmes such as Radio 4’s File on 4, 5Live Investigates and BBC1’s Panorama. Lynne managed complex undercover investigations including for the 10 O’Clock News, breaking stories which made newspaper headlines. There's nothing she likes better than an ethical or editorial conundrum.

In 2009 she co-founded Macclesfield Barnaby Festival and helped build a grassroots movement which forged a model for cultural and community engagement. Barnaby is now a much-lauded arts organisation and charity credited with having triggered a cultural renaissance in the town. Lynne served as Chair of Trustees until 2016.

Now a freelance executive producer for BBC Radio 4, Lynne also works with audio company Podcastable. She advises The Digital Life Skills Company CIC empowering young people to be smart, savvy and resilient online, and dabbles in various cultural projects locally including finding new life for a disused Georgian church.

Jude D'Souza

Jude is the Director of Creative Services at Spirit Medical Communications in Alderley Park, where his role includes delivering training on better presenting technique to clients in the pharmaceuticals industry.

A transplant to Macclesfield, Jude entered the town’s cultural scene by producing and directing two acclaimed charity productions of The Vagina Monologues. He soon joined the nascent Macclesfield Barnaby Festival, serving as a Trustee for several years and creating numerous events including the popular Great Barnaby Treasure Hunt, FlashPod and Dead End, an original play that he wrote and directed.

Jude founded Entropy Events to run both regular events such as poetry slams and one-offs such as political hustings and local performances. Its longest-running event Speakeasy, a themed open mic discussion group recently ended after six years. Cinevangelist, a fortnightly screening of underappreciated films whose titled are not revealed in advance, is in its fifth year. An unabashed cinephile, Jude has appeared as a panelist at a screening by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Student Union and served as a judge in Macclesfield’s SilkFest short film competition.


A huge thank you to our partners who have been with us on this journey and made TEDxMacclesfield a reality through their financial sponsorship, equipment, skills and expertise.

Platinum sponsors:
Media partner:
Gold sponsor:
Silver sponsor:

Thanks also to our supporters

...And team of talented and enthusiastic volunteers

Most of the TEDxMacclesfield 2019 volunteer team
Image: Travelling Simon

Ticket terms and conditions

Cover image by Travelling Simon Photography.
Site design and development by Karlis Blums.

This independent TEDx event is operated under licence from TED.

Dr Ailsa Holland
About Time: Putting Women Back Into History

Ailsa Holland is a poet, activist and Director of Moormaid Press. She studied literature, history and women’s studies at the universities of Oxford, York and Southampton. Her poems have been published in journals, anthologies and in her pamphlet, Twenty-Four Miles Up (2017). Ailsa created the Library in the Landscape at Tegg’s Nose Country Park, co-wrote and performed Under Silk Wood for Barnaby Festival 2014 and was Artist-in-Residence in 2016 creating Hills Up Streets and Backwallgate Books. She is a passionate campaigner for equality, a placard and banner-maker. Since 2018 she has co-curated the women-in-history twitter project @OnThisDayShe with Tania Hershman and Jo Bell. Ailsa grew up in Stone, Staffordshire and settled in Macclesfield with her family in 2006.

Prof Barbara Evans
Cutting the Crap: Saving Lives by Solving the Right Problem

A chartered engineer with a second degree in Development Studies, Barbara Evans is Professor in Public Health Engineering at the University of Leeds. She leads a multi-disciplinary team that works on sanitation, hygiene and water services in the global south, with a focus on cities. Barbara worked as a consultant and at the World Bank for over 20 years, living in South and East Asia, Africa and Latin America. She advises organisations including the UN and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Barbara has won prizes but is most proud of the graduates of her training programme who are now working to improve public health through better sanitation in their home countries. She lives with her family in Macclesfield.

Dr Rachael Ainsworth
Research Culture is Broken; Open Science can Fix It

Dr Rachael Ainsworth is a Research Associate and Open Science Champion at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester. She has a PhD in Astrophysics, a BSc in Physics and was an intern at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She is an expert in the interpretation of radio emission from protostellar systems in nearby star forming regions and her research involves observing jets from young stars with next-generation radio telescopes to investigate the physical processes that assemble stars like our Sun. She is passionate about openness, transparency, reproducibility and inclusion in research and organises a women in data meetup group in Manchester called HER+Data MCR. Originally from Hampton, New Hampshire, USA Rachael now lives in Manchester.

Shelley Metcalfe
Misinformation - The Cost of Careless Clicks

Shelley Metcalfe is co-founder of The Digital Life Skills Company a social enterprise that teaches children and young people digital information literacy skills, equipping them to access reliable information and avoid misleading media online. Shelley spent 20 years working in strategic, creative and operational roles in blue chip, start-up and third sector environments. Her career began in the media, leading the marketing effort in youth magazines including Smash Hits, Sky and The Face. With a degree in English and Philosophy, Shelley returned to education in 2008 to take an MSc in Responsible Business Practice, and went on to provide consultancy to not-for-profit and for-purpose organisations. She served on the Board of Barnaby Festival until 2016 and lives with her family in Poynton.

Paul Robinshaw
Bread, Business and Building a Community

Paul Robinshaw runs Flour Water Salt, a bakery and café in Macclesfield making award-winning ‘real bread’ and pastries, and supplying artisan food-halls and restaurants. Paul grew up in Manchester, studied Applied Statistics and after a brief foray into research psychiatry, went on to a high level career in computer programming. Paul was commuting to London for a global travel technology company when, after the birth of his daughters, he started looking for a career more focused on home. In 2009, with no formal culinary training, Paul converted his cellar and began baking sourdough. Five years later he finally gave up IT and, through word-of-mouth, started selling directly to the public. Paul is an Ambassador for the Real Bread Campaign.

Alistair Hudson
Why Art is Useful

Alistair Hudson was appointed Director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery in February 2018. Prior to his return to Manchester, he was Director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art where his vision was based on the concept of the Useful Museum. In the preceding ten years he was Deputy Director of Grizedale Arts in Cumbria which gained critical acclaim for its radical approaches to working with artists and communities, based on the idea that art should be a tool of social change and not just an object of contemplation. Alistair is co-director of the Asociación de Arte Útil with Tania Bruguera – an expansive international project and online archive. He attended The King’s School, Macclesfield before studying at Goldsmiths College, London.

Esther Bird
Momentum: How I Became A Climate Activist

Esther Bird is a 13 year old eco-activist from Macclesfield. She is a student at Tytherington School and alongside lessons takes part in extra-curricular clubs such as drum group, choir, band, Student Parliament and Tythy Goes Green. In 2018 she was a founding member of the town's new interschool youth eco group, and became an ambassador for Action For Conservation - a charity with a mission to create the next generation of nature conservationists. Esther has been appointed to the Leadership Group of the UK’s first large scale youth-led nature restoration project. She has joined the #FridayForFuture school strikes and is currently developing a new podcast called Youth Activists. In her spare time she is a keen swimmer, chess player and dancer.

Victoria Scholes

Event host

Victoria Scholes is an artist, arts consultant, coach and outdoor guide. She helps people and organisations to develop their ideas and make things happen across a variety of sectors. Starting out in pharmaceutics, a brief stint in the Anglican Priesthood gave way to an art degree and a mix of business development, art, walking and community enrichment. Victoria is founder of Natural Thinking, a business that brings her obsession with walking and 27 years’ experience of the Macclesfield landscape together with leadership coaching. She’s an acclaimed glassmaker, exhibiting in shows such as the British Glass Biennale and the International Glass Prize, and for several years was Chair of the Contemporary Glass Society. The rest of the time she’s in the hills.

Ben Gorb

As a teenager Ben discovered artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Who and AC/DC and developed a passion for classic rock. Within a year he was writing music for the guitar. After Fallibroome he went on to study music, gaining a Masters Degree in Popular Music from the Royal Northern College of Music. Ben creates explosive rock, heartfelt pop and folk ballads. He also writes for strings inspired by composers such as Stravinsky and Beethoven. Ben performs solo or with a trio and string quartet. In 2016 he released a studio EP Ride,followed by a live EP Unplugged With Strings. Ben regularly gigs in Manchester and Cheshire and has been played on local radio stations including XS Manchester.

Hugo Kensdale

Hugo Kensdale is a Macclesfield-based singer-songwriter who pens alt folk/pop/rock melody driven songs that have been described as having hints of The Shins, Elvis Costello, Glen Hansard and Crowded House amongst others. Since first venturing out onto the Manchester live music scene circa 2012 Hugo has taken his music around the UK supporting numerous international artists including Turin Brakes and Steve Craddock of Weller and Ocean Colour Scene. Described as “Electrifying...a master of atmospherics” by the Manchester Evening News, Hugo embarks on a 3-month European tour in summer 2019 and his debut album is due for release early 2020.