On April 24th, Jessica Hepburn came and talked to the students of Y10 and Y12 about her life as an Author, Arts Producer and Adventure Activist. She talked about her childhood and her theatrical career which began in Newcastle at Northern Stage, before moving to London to run the Lyric, Hammersmith in her early 30s. She was one of the youngest Executive Directors of a theatre in London.
However, at the same time as all her professional success, she was going through a secret ten-year battle to try and have a child, having 11 rounds of IVF, which ultimately did not work. As a result of this, she became a figurehead in the world of infertility, being interviewed on radio and television and featuring in countless newspaper articles. She wrote her first book, entitled The Pursuit of Motherhood and set up the world’s first Arts Festival focused on fertility, before deciding to up the personal challenge.
Jessica decided to swim the English Channel – despite having no idea of the challenges of being a channel swimmer - and succeeded on her mission in September 2015, taking 17 hours to do so. After this, came her second book, 21 Miles. She then ran the London Marathon, but her final challenge was undoubtedly her biggest – climbing Mount Chomolungma (otherwise known as Mount Everest). Despite her schedule being disrupted by covid, she made it to the top of the world, conquering Everest on May 14th 2022. Her third book is due out next year.
This makes her the only woman in the world to have swum the Channel, run a road Marathon, and climbed Everest: what an inspiration!
Her speech was incredibly compelling and she absolutely held her audience in the palm of her hand over the course of an hour. Her journeys were extremely exciting and she spoke honestly and openly about her challenges in life, and how they drove her to try bigger and more exciting adventures. She was inundated with questions at the end, and there’s no doubt that she really inspired the girls to Live Big and Brave (Jessica’s motto and hashtag). Copies of her first two books will be available in the school library, and the girls can follow her progress on her website.