Solo Atlantic rower Debra Searle headlines first event in national speaker series

Nov 05, 2018

Debra Searle MVO, MBE, who shot to fame after rowing the Atlantic solo, told the story of her inspiring journey in the first of a series of landmark speaker events presented by Womble Bond Dickinson.

The event on November 7, hosted by transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD), was the first of a speaker series exploring the themes of the Mayflower 400 commemoration. The series is being run of behalf of Mayflower 400, with the first event taking place in the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, where WBD has a key office.

WBD's invited guests enjoyed Debra's story of her journey across the Atlantic, reminiscent of the historic voyage of the Mayflower ship from the UK to the ‘New World’ of America some 400 years ago. 

Debra's vast achievements include a first class honours degree, launching four companies, winning Gold World Championship medals for Great Britain, presenting more than 40 programmes for the BBC, writing two published books, becoming the youngest ever trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and successfully rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean. The Queen has recognised Debra on two occasions – in 2002 with an MBE and in 2014 with an MVO.  She has spoken at more than 1,000 events across 38 countries.

Debra Searle

She said:

“I am delighted to be supporting the Mayflower 400 Speaker Series and relating my own experiences to that epic and significant voyage made 400 years ago. My solo journey across the Atlantic taught me a great deal about the importance of attitude and mind-set. I’d like to also say a big thank you to Womble Bond Dickinson for inviting me to join them in celebrating their first speaker event of the series here at the National Marine Aquarium.”

Charles Hackett, CEO Mayflower 400, said: “2020 is the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, one of the most influential journeys in global history and a defining moment in the shared history of Britain, the US and the Netherlands. We were absolutely delighted to welcome Debra to Plymouth where she shared the story of her incredible, life changing journey.”

Craig Moore, Partner and Head of WBD's Plymouth office, added: "We're delighted to be part of the Mayflower 400 initiative and welcoming Debra and our clients at the National Marine Aquarium to celebrate the voyage of this iconic ship that shaped the history of the world and continues to be an integral part of our heritage.

"400 years ago The Mayflower sailed from Plymouth where we have one of our eight UK offices and landed in Boston where we opened in the US last year following our combination to create transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson. It couldn’t be more appropriate for us to be supporting this excellent initiative celebrating the ties between the US and the UK. ”

The Mayflower 400 commemoration programme in 2020 will comprise over 400 events that will span four Nations – Britain, US, Netherlands and Wampanoag – and is anticipated to yield a significant £440m impact on the business turnover across the UK Mayflower Compact destinations. But business leaders are gathering to explore how business might further work with the anniversary for transatlantic opportunities.

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