FH: stories | Liu Batchelor TEDx

Three years ago Liu was at a crossroads. Just turned 30, she was in a job she loved, full of creative challenges and great people, but there was that niggle, a desire to do more of her own thing.

For some that might mean firing off a few job applications and waiting for employers to call. Not Liu, whose desire to build connections with like-minded people resulted in a more ambitious plan – bringing the global TEDx phenomenon to Folkestone.

“I was working in an animation studio. Everyone was saying the job was amazing, which it was, but I was becoming so overwhelmed. I was trying to do work and my own stuff and I was stopping enjoying that.

“I thought there were jobs out there out for me. I could change jobs, but why don’t I quit, see if I can go on my own and get a job back in animation or as a project manager, if I don’t. That gave me the confidence to do it.

“I moved into The Workshop, Folkestone’s digital business hub to meet new people but realised I needed to do more and started thinking about the people who I wanted to work with.

“I realised it was the kind of people who would go to a TEDx event, who like new ideas, get excited by things, think outside the box, and are willing to be challenged. I thought ‘Why don’t we have one in Folkestone?’

“I spoke to James Avery, Manager at The Workshop and basically said, “I’ve kind of got this idea, what do you think very loosely. He’s so positive and enthusiastic anyway and said straight away it sounded like a good idea.

“We did a meet up to discuss the idea and more than 50 people rocked up where I told them I have an idea, I have no idea how we’re doing it, I just want to know if anyone is interested.

“This is what shows, for me, what Folkestone is about. You can come up with a crazy idea and open it out for people and they’ll tell you what they think, respond and contribute. It’s a place where the starting point from people I’ve met is ‘Yes’.”

A lot of hard work and three years later – with the support of an amazing group of people TEDx Folkestone has not only become a hot ticket item, but an extraordinary catalyst for changing lives, with a unique support programme – all run on a voluntary basis – helping to build the confidence and speaking ability of those taking part.

“We have realised over time that speaker development is our USP. We had two people who had been to TEDx London Women – one of the biggest TEDx events in the UK – and they came up to us and said: ‘I don’t know what you’re doing with your speakers but they’re amazing. That was the best feedback and we’ve taken pride from that’.”

In the background of all that success has been Folkestone’s vibrant Creative Quarter with the event enjoying the support of the team at The Workshop – where Liu is still based – and The Quarterhouse arts and entertainment venue – where TEDx Folkestone takes place.

There is, of course, more to Liu than TEDx, with a growing portfolio of projects that show off her skills as a TV presenter and content producer – including two series for Folkestone based Sky travel channel, Globetrotter TV and her own online interview series, The Big Idea Show. Her two new series for Globetrotter TV will be screened in November 2019 focused on The Black Forest in Germany and The Philippines.

Her love of sport has also led to a number of inspiring video challenges, Conquer the Coast being the latest, all with the aim of encouraging people to give things a go; a philosophy – as with TEDx – built on a belief that if you believe in yourself, it’s possible to achieve anything – extraordinary things included.

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