So let’s talk about cancer
A bold statement don’t you think…but this is what I do…
So this is me…
Hello, my name is Nigel Revell and I am a Professional Speaker who specialises in inspirational and motivational presentations. Until the end of 2014, I was Director of Education and Advocacy for the national charity, Teenage Cancer Trust. After approaching twenty years helping to build this organisation from its tiny beginnings to what it has become today, I decided to return to what I do best, inspiring and motivating people…this is my story…
In 1995, following a successful career in publishing, I became involved with a very small charity called Teenage Cancer Trust. I came into contact with this organisation as a result of the experiences endured by one of the lads I was coaching at rugby, a 15 year old named Ben.
Ben developed a rare form of bone cancer, a form with no medical explanation but one that constitutes a significant percentage of the cancers in his age group. To say that his much delayed and extremely badly handled diagnosis came as a shock to Ben, his family and the entire community that surrounded him, would be a considerable understatement. But what was to follow is the reason for my becoming so deeply involved…
Ben’s story contributes a significant amount to the presentations that I deliver. He was a young man for whom I had a great deal of affection, as well as enormous respect. Ben has always been my inspiration and my motivation and it is in his name, that I continue to strive to educate young people about all that surrounds cancer, especially when it occurs in this age group.
Very soon after Ben finally received his diagnosis, he asked me why he hadn’t been educated about cancer whilst at school? Why he had not been made aware of the signs of cancer in his age group? Why he had not received any knowledge about the treatments and how they work, so it wouldn’t be such a shock if it happened to him? Why he and his peers hadn’t been empowered to talk about cancer and how to support someone when they developed the disease? And why, considering how common cancer is, so few adults seem to have any idea either?
It was this conversation that sowed the seed for what was to become the ambition that has driven me for over twenty years…and that is, that by the time they leave the educational sector, every student has a rudimentary knowledge of cancer and all that surrounds it. This will not only help them if they are unfortunate enough to be one of the 2500+ teenagers and young adults who develop cancer in this age group in the UK each year, but also for their future lives. Over the years I have met so many people to whom I presented when they were at school or at college, who have either gone on to develop cancer themselves, or it has happened to someone they know and they all have said that the knowledge they gained during my presentation has helped them significantly in dealing with the situation. They have then gone on to thank me for what I did…something that I will always find a very humbling experience.
When I joined Teenage Cancer Trust in 1995, I agreed to help them for a year, which very quickly became two years and ended after nearly twenty years! During that time, I built a highly successful and very respected cancer education programme, something of which I am extremely proud. In my time with the organisation, I also had the privilege of spending a lot of time with a huge number of extraordinary young people who were dealing with cancer and it is their stories, wishes and desires that also contribute greatly to my presentations.
On the surface, talking to large groups of people about an emotive subject like cancer, is a very daunting prospect. However, if it is done in an engaging and inspirational manner, then it becomes something very different.
I am told that I manage to achieve this…but don’t take my word for it…please scroll down to see what people say…
People say that…
Here are just a couple of written testimonials from members of staff and students and also some video clips –
Nigel Revell has been a visiting speaker at Wellington College since 2006. He delivers a talk to our 240 L6th students every year about how he came to be involved in the Teenage Cancer Trust through becoming an advocate for a young man called Ben whom he was coaching at rugby. I have invited Nigel back every year because he is, without doubt, the best speaker who addresses that year group. This is not just my opinion, but the opinion of the students too, many of whom say that Nigel is the best speaker they hear in their time at Wellington. This is some tribute as Wellington invites some of the most renowned speakers in various fields to address the students.
The success of Nigel’s talk comes down to a number of things. Primarily, the emotional intelligence of his delivery is exceptional. The students cannot fail to engage with him throughout as his story is a story about someone their age, it involves a perfect mix of humour, tragedy and a sense of a person with deep purpose and it is delivered in a language that the students understand. The story is also a mixture of sadness, anger and inspiration. Nigel’s description of Ben’s experiences shows deep respect and warmth, but it also cries out with a sense of injustice that such a promising young life was needlessly cut short. The students are always inspired by Nigel’s description of his own commitment to doing the right thing, not only for Ben, but now for generations of young cancer sufferers in the UK through his work for Teenage Cancer Trust. Many of our students, in the light of Nigel’s talk, gain a renewed commitment to charity work, service and fund-raising. In that sense, Nigel’s talk fits in perfectly with our philosophy of well-being, of human flourishing. It is not just a story about cancer, it is a story about the human fight against it and a story about the importance and strength of human relationships in coping with and overcoming adversity.
I don’t think any of us realises the full impact of the 60 minutes Nigel spends with our students each year. I have a feeling that all of the nearly 2,000 Wellingtonians who have now heard him will clearly remember his talk and what’s more, a significant number will have been provided with inspiration to make the world a better place after Nigel has shown them what it is possible for one person to do.
The Ashcombe School
Nigel Revell has visited The Ashcombe School for many years and has annually spoken to 240 Year 10 Students about his relationship with The Teenage Cancer Trust as part of our whole school tutor programme. Nigel speaks about his important work with the charity and how he became personally involved after the diagnosis and death of a young man of whom he knew through their common love of rugby.
The pupils are instantly captivated by Nigel’s story about the friendship he built and then tragically lost through cancer. Nigel’s message is powerful and emotive, delivered in a way the students can engage with and understand and importantly with humour and with an underlying realism of the importance and fragility of life. Nigel is extremely passionate about his story and the work of not just The Teenage Cancer Trust but other organisations dealing with cancer and young people.
I have personally seen him deliver his talk to many students over the past 10 years. His talk is without question the most poignant, powerful, educational and empowering talk that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.
Nigel has been invited back to the school every year due to the popularity of his talk with our students who raise money for The Teenage Cancer Trust immediately after through organising and holding fundraising events.
We are appreciative to Nigel for the impact he has had on thousands of young people from The Ashcombe and the contribution he has had to their lives. Nigel is very much a friend of the school and I would whole-heartily recommend him to any establishment.
Student – Marlborough College
I would just like to say how inspiring I found the talk you gave on teenage cancer.
You seemed to make cancer seem like a thing we should talk about rather than trying to ignore it, and the talk seemed positive for the future rather than sad for what cancer has done. I think Ben would have been proud of you! I think its also important to get people more involved and more interested in the implications of cancer and be open about it rather than be nervous about it as if its a forbidden topic. I find it amazing how you got so involved with the Teenage Cancer Trust when you were helping Ben through his cancer and it seems important to have someone to lean on during cancer and someone to look to so the sufferers are not going through cancer alone.
Please carry on what you have been doing because I think it is really important for young people such as myself to learn about cancer. I salute you!
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M: 07831 267079