A Medley Lecture with Johnnie Boden, CBE


20 October 2023

On Tuesday 10 October we held our first Senior Medley Lecture of the School year in the splendour of the Performing Arts Centre. Part of a series of three inspiring Medley Lectures taking place this term, we were delighted to welcome Johnnie Boden, CBE to Downe House. Johnnie Boden is the Founder and Creative Director of Boden, the global fashion brand with teams in London, Boston and Pennsylvania. The Boden brand has grown to be synonymous for its colour, pizzazz and vibrancy and Johnnie was awarded a CBE for services to the Fashion & Retail Sector in the New Year Honours List 2023. 

Medley Lectures are a very important part of our Enrichment programme and take place every year with audience members usually consisting of pupils, parents, alumnae, staff, and friends of the school. These lectures take their name from former Headmistress, Miss Nancy Medley, who had a great passion for learning outside the curriculum, encouraging pupils to think and to broaden their horizons. 



This talk was hosted brilliantly by Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey (Fraser DH 2001) who is a sustainable fashion advocate, journalist, stylist, Ambassador of Smart Works Charity, and mother of three. Ginnie lives not far from Cold Ash and returned to Downe House after twenty-two years. Twelve of those years were spent at British Vogue, firstly managing the British Fashion advertising portfolio and latterly, as the Executive Retail Editor. After leaving British Vogue, Ginnie set-up her own consultancy in 2018 and VCH Style was born.  

Sonya (Upper Sixth), one of our impressive Ambassadors, introduced Johnnie and Ginnie to the stage and handed over to Ginnie to steer the evening.



Johnnie talked of the highs and lows of owning a British fashion brand, giving our pupils a brief but fascinating insight into the fashion retail world. Boden has over 1000 staff, 75% of these are women and the company has a turnover of £350 million. Today, after a wild, unpredictable, and exciting 30 years in business, the core values of Boden remain – family, kindness, trust, laughter, and warmth. All things that Johnnie, his wife Sophie and their three daughters embody.

Johnnie is known for his excellent attention to detail and at the heart of everything has always been a desire to make clothes that stay in your wardrobe for a long time. He really is the Colourful British Entrepreneur! Johnnie shared some excellent guidance with the audience; be yourself, read any books that explore characters, listen to criticism, become a good judge of other people and failure isn’t bad. He ended the evening with this quote: 

Take risks, make a fool of yourself, and don’t worry when people laugh at you. I was terribly self-conscious when I was younger and worried what people thought of me. Push yourself a bit more and try new things.
– Johnnie Boden, CBE

Next in our series of Senior Medley Lectures, we are thrilled to be welcoming Marina Hyde on Tuesday 7 November to talk about her life and experiences as one of the UK’s best-known writers. Marina (DH Alumna 1992) writes three articles each week on current affairs (typically politics), celebrity, and sport, for The Guardian newspaper. Her recent book “What Just Happened?” is a collection of her Guardian columns and is a Sunday Times Best Seller. It promises to be a fascinating evening and if you would like to join us for this event, please click here to reserve your seat.

Events at Downe House

Book your tickets | Academic Conference – Maximising Pupils’ Potential | Thursday 13 June 2024
Back to top