We were delighted to welcome the distinguished journalist and military historian, Sir Max Hastings, to Downe House for the Senior Medley Lecture on Thursday 25 November.
Speaking in conversation with our Deputy Head Senior, Teal, and Honor, Head of Lower School, in front of a large audience of Sixth Formers, parents, staff and guests, Sir Max spoke with great candour about his wide-ranging career.
The feedback from our UVI pupils after the event was very positive.
“It was impressive to hear the breadth of his experience as a journalist. He has covered such a huge number of big stories over many years – everything from the state of the NHS to the Falklands War,” said one.
“He has also written extensively on a wide range of historical events, and it was fun to have the chance to speak to him afterwards and get him to sign his books,” said another.
“Some of us were lucky enough to have dinner with him beforehand – and we thought Sir Max was a very charismatic and fascinating person to talk to,” said another UVI former. “He seemed genuinely interested in us as individuals and we all felt that he believed in us, too, in the sense that he believed we could go out into the world and make a real difference.”
Another UVI pupil added: “He really emphasised how much he hoped some of us would go into politics. During the evening he was very frank in his appraisal of our current politicians – he was pretty dismissive of them and told us he didn’t think they were showing sufficient leadership and courage about some of the big problems facing the modern world, such as mass immigration, global warming and social care.”
Several girls noted how they admired Sir Max for taking some chances in his early career. One commented: “It was interesting to hear how he made his name covering the Vietnam War – but also how the only reason he was there was because he took a bit of a gamble and asked his boss at the time if he could go out as a kind of rove reporter to cover the action over there.”
Teal and Honor did a fantastic job leading the conversation. Their questions were succinct, articulate, and bold, and it was especially impressive that almost all of them were asked spontaneously in response to Sir Max’s comments. The questions from the floor were also wide-ranging, articulate and intelligent.
All in all, it was an enlightening, memorable and enjoyable evening.
Mr Matt Godfrey
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