Debra Searle MBE
Fee band from £ 4000 - 7000
Debra Searle MBE achieved fame by rowing solo across the Atlantic in a 23ft plywood boat.
Debra has packed an enormous amount into her 20’s. Reading her CV is exhausting in itself! To add to her first class honours degree she has had entrepreneurial success with the launch of two limited companies, is a published author, has medals at World Championship level, is on the board of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, has successfully rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean amongst other expeditions, works for the BBC as a presenter and has an MBE from the Queen.
Debra was heralded ".Britain's latest sporting heroine." (The Times) when the media worldwide went crazy for the story of the 5ft 5" young lady who carried on rowing alone when her husband, a 6 ft 5" experienced oarsman, left the boat after developing an uncontrollable fear of the ocean. Debra, who was loving life at sea in a 23 foot plywood boat, saw no reason to stop and rowed on to become the youngest and only the third woman in the world to have rowed an ocean solo.
The 3000 mile journey that was initially supposed to take 6 weeks took Debra a staggering 3 ½ months and saw her battling with 30 foot waves, force 8 squalls and sharks, while having to dodge tankers that came too close for comfort on more than a few occasions. Worse than all of this, however, was dealing with the loneliness and solitude but focussing on one motto kept Debra going: "Choose your attitude" and she certainly did.
Areas of Expertise
Debra and the Media
The media’s response to Debra’s Atlantic success was phenomenal, although perhaps not surprising. She is young, highly intelligent, articulate and very telegenic. Her ease in front of the camera, drive and enthusiasm led to a number of presenting jobs. Most recently Debra has been fronting a new interior design programme for BBC1 having completed three series as the presenter of Big Strong Boys for BBC1 Daytime. She also works for BBC Grandstand, was the subject of a documentary for BBC Extreme Lives and presented a 1-hour ITV documentary on the Southampton Boat Show alongside Top Gear’s Vicky Butler-Henderson and GMTV’s Ben Shepherd.
Debra – Motivational and after dinner speaker
Debra’s overwhelming positivity and ‘go for it’ attitude is contagious, while her modesty is endearing. She regularly delivers both motivational presentations and after dinner speeches using her story to powerfully but subtly draw out key business and personal lessons.
Debra is an incredibly natural communicator and often very emotive. She shares her highs and lows, personal battles and victories to help illustrate in a very human way what we are all capable of. She is not a motivational speaker reliant on buzz words, hype and jargon.
Her main themes are how to stay motivated, being adaptable to change, overcoming obstacles, how to improve your team-working through encouraging one another and how to choose the right attitude however impossible the end goal may seem.
Debra powerfully illustrates with slides and stunning video footage and leaves her audience in no doubt of their own ability to achieve the extraordinary both individually and collectively. She sets herself apart from other speakers by her level of commitment to each project. Taking the time to ensure she fully understands the conference themes and gathering company and industry specific information allows her to tailor her presentation to the client’s exact requirements.
Debra has an incredible client list including IBM, BT, Nokia, Lloyds TSB, KPMG, Pfizer, Mars Inc, and many more.
Conference Host and Facilitator
Debra is a lively and proficient conference host/facilitator. Her most recent engagement involved hosting a three day conference in Prague for BT Global Services, including leading panel discussions, interviewing key directors and linking presentations.
Debra is passionate about sport and art. She chose to study both subjects at degree level, and achieved first class honours. Debra taught Art and PE before breaking out as an entrepreneur, establishing her first company, a corporate art consultancy business, at the age of 23. She has since set up a second company, Shoal Projects Ltd. In 2002 she wrote Rowing it Alone, published by Chrysalis. Her spirit of adventure gained Debra an MBE and she was delighted to be appointed a trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 2003, the youngest and only female trustee working alongside HRH Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Earl of Wessex.
Since rowing the Atlantic Debra has continued to undertake major expeditions. She recently became the first Briton to complete the gruelling Yukon River Quest, one of the longest canoe races in the world and in January 2005 she returned from successfully sailing across the Southern Ocean. Debra is currently preparing for her next major expedition – a world first – but this one is still under wraps at the moment!
“We provided feedback forms to all participants and asked for a rating between 1 (poor) and 5 (excellent). Debra scored a '5' from every single respondent. This is unheard of!
The comments were all super, for example:
- ' Best speaker I've heard at an IBM event - outstanding!'
- ' Absolutely incredible - such simple statements and advice, yet delivering major results'"
Deborah Evans, Client Director, IBM UK
"She was Fantastic. We held a conference for 1400 business people with Mikhael Gorbachev, Rory Bremner, Nick Leeson, Murray Walker, John Simpson and Debra Veal as the speakers, and the delegates voted Debra Veal the best."
Mike Firth, CE of The International Business Convention.
“Debra was excellent. The time taken by Debra to understand our business really paid off. The best thing about her was her humility and also her willingness to stay and chat to the audience.”
Karen Allen, Head of Communications, Portman Building Society
“People really valued the fact that Debra is able to draw parallels between her adventure experiences and her working/daily life, having run her own companies - and that she does so in a way that is personal to her and offered simply as a thought to the group rather than drawing sweeping generalised conclusions and laying them down as law in the way some speakers do. She definitely hit the spot and took us with her all the way on her journey.”
Debra Westlake, UBS Global Employee Communications Director
“In short I thought Debra was excellent and very inspirational but not in a cheesy way. I really felt that I could relate her experience to my working day.”
Ernst & Young