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Frank Gardner inspires pupils at Godolphin


BBC Security Correspondent, journalist and author Frank Gardner spoke to a packed Performing Arts Centre at Godolphin School as part of its ‘Inspiring People’ series of Lectures recently.

A fluent Arabist with a degree in Arabic and Islamic studies from Exeter University, Frank spent nine years as an investment banker in New York, London and Bahrain before switching to journalism and becoming the BBC’s Middle East correspondent based in Cairo. He has reported extensively on the so-called ‘War on Terror’ in Guantanamo Bay, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. In 2004 he was injured in a gun attack by Al Qaeda sympathisers.

From the moment he began to speak, the audience were captivated by his engaging style, level of intellect and encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject matter, the Middle East. His emphasis was on the cultural diversity of the region and he began with a selection of his own photos, demonstrating its beauty, ancient traditions and culture. He was keen to convey that media coverage often disproportionately focuses on the negatives when 99% of the time, the area is peaceful.

He then moved on to give his own analysis of Middle Eastern countries in order to better understand the origins of conflicts today. He discussed the Sunni/Shiite divisions that still dominate the region and the reasons for instability in the area. His observations were fascinating and peppered with anecdotes from his career.

In the question and answer session that followed, he was generous with his advice to current pupils, telling them to cultivate a USP (unique selling point) and to make the most of life at school. Speaking afterwards, Emma Hattersley, Headmistress, said: ‘It was such a privilege to listen to Frank speak and I am extremely grateful that he agreed to come. I can think of no person who better embodies the purpose of our ‘Inspiring People’ lectures – his passion, drive and accomplishments in the face of adversity make him truly inspiring’.

Published: March 22 2017

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