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Host and guest speakers

 

Ceremony host - Sandi Toksvig OBE

Sandi Toksvig  
 

Sandi Toksvig OBE, was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and brought up around the world in Europe, Africa and the United States. She began her comedy career at Girton College, Cambridge where she wrote and performed in the first all-woman Footlights show as well as achieving a first class degree.

Sandi is well known to UK audiences as a broadcaster having begun her career in children’s television playing Ethel in the long running Saturday morning show Number 73. Since then her television career has included celebrated series such as Call My Bluff and Whose Line Is It Anyway? She was also host of Antiques Master for BBC2 and 1001 Things You Should Know for Channel 4. In 2016, Sandi took over from Stephen Fry as host of BBC2's hugely popular quiz show QI, and in 2014 she also replaced William G. Stewart as the host of 15 to 1 which made its comeback after 11 years. In 2017 she and Noel Fielding became the new co-hosts of The Great British Bake Off in its move to Channel 4.

For a decade Sandi was a familiar voice to BBC Radio 4 listeners as the chair of The News Quiz which led to her induction into the Radio Hall of Fame.

Sandi is passionate about live performance. She performed at the very first night of The Comedy Store in London and for many years was a member of The Comedy Store Players, an improvisational comedy team. Sandi conceived Playhouse Live for Sky Arts, producing specially commissioned live drama for television.

Much of Sandi’s time is devoted to writing having written more than twenty fiction and non-fiction books for children and adults. Her latest novel The End of the Sky was published in 2017. For the theatre Sandi co-authored the musical Big Night Out at the Little Sands Picture Palace Theatre (with Dillie Keane), the Shakespeare deconstruction, The Pocket Dream (with Elly Brewer) Charity Begins for Playhouse Live, Bully Boy and Silver Linings. Her adaptation of Treasure Island reopened the Leicester Haymarket Theatre in December 2018. In 2019 her adaptation of Mamma Mia the Party will open at London’s 02.

Sandi is an activist for gender equality. In 2014 she co-founded the Women’s Equality Party.

 

Inspirational Guest Speaker - June Sarpong MBE

June Sarpong  
 

June Sarpong MBE is an established ‘TV’ Presenter. June has enjoyed a 20-year career, in which she has become one of the most recognisable faces of British television, as well as being one of the UK’s most intelligent and dynamic hosts. June is one of the only hosts of her generation that is equally comfortable interviewing politicians, celebrities and members of the public.

June began her career at Kiss 100 and later became a presenter for MTV UK & Ireland, but it was when she started on Channel 4’s T4 that she became such a household name. She was one of the female faces on the show for 9 years, even interviewing Tony Blair for an exclusive special, When Tony Met June in 2005, with unprecedented access to the then British Prime Minister.

"one of the only hosts of her generation that is equally comfortable interviewing politicians, celebrities and members of the public."

June has taken on the world’s most challenging live audiences, hosting 2005’s major Make Poverty History event in London’s Trafalgar Square and presenting at the UK leg of Live Earth in 2007. In 2008 alongside Will Smith she also hosted Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday celebrations in front of 30,000 people in London’s Hyde Park. Not only this, June has interviewed and introduced some of the world’s biggest names including HRH Prince of Wales, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Bono, George Clooney and 50 Cent.

June has worked extensively with HRH Prince Charles for ten years as an ambassador for his charity the Prince’s Trust, whilst campaigning for The One and Produce (RED). June was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her services to broadcasting and charity, making her one of the youngest ever people to receive an MBE.

June is the co-founder of the WIE Network (Women: Inspiration & Enterprise). WIE first launched in New York in 2010, and then in the UK 2012. This acclaimed conference has featured leading speakers from a wide range of industries, with previous speakers including Sarah Brown, Melinda Gates, Arianna Huffington, Donna Karan, Queen Rania, Nancy Pelosi and Iman.

After living in America for 8 years, June moved back to her hometown of London in 2015, and appeared as a panellist on ITV’s Loose Women. She is now a regular panellist on Sky News’ new weekly current affairs discussion show, The Pledge.

In 2016, June was announced as the official ambassador for Superdrug’s Shades of Beauty campaign, to tackle product inequality in high street beauty, with the aim of making it more accessible for black and Asian women to shop affordably on the high street. June was also announced as part of the Grazia Collective, a line-up of brilliant women ambassadors.

2017 continued to be a busy year for June, she co-presented The Art Show with Will Best and Kate Bryan, a new series on Sky Arts. The Art Show is a beautifully filmed, energetic, entertaining and insightful television series, offering a global perspective on human creativity. This unique 8 x 1 hour TV series aims to expand our understanding of people, places, culture and history.

"Diversify uncovers how a new approach to how we work, learn and live can help us reach our maximum potential, lessen the pressure on the state, and solve some of the most stubborn challenges we face."

Last year, June released her first book Diversify: Six Degrees of Integration. In the book, June puts the spotlight on groups who are often marginalised in our society, including women, those living with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community. Diversify uncovers how a new approach to how we work, learn and live can help us reach our maximum potential, lessen the pressure on the state, and solve some of the most stubborn challenges we face. The book publishes fascinating new research from Professor Anthony Heath and the team at Nuffield College, Oxford University, on the costs of discrimination and the benefits of diversity, in a very divided world. Through their research, they have specifically calculated that the cost of discrimination in the UK is 127 billion pounds a year.

In 2018, June worked with several brands, including Natwest, Matalan and Ancestry. She was also involved in E!’s coverage of The Royal Wedding and appeared on BBC’s Brexit Blind Dates. Most recently, June has filmed a new BBC daytime series that follows public figures in their own personal spiritual journey to explore their unique relationship with religion and faith. The series is due to TX this December.

 

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