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Solo sailing pioneer with a powerful story of finding peace of mind


Paul Heiney

travels from UK

Broadcaster, author and ocean adventurer who is humorous, highly professional and a natural storyteller

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About Paul

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Keynote speaker Paul Heiney is a well-known and respected British broadcaster, author and ocean adventurer.

Paul Heiney has a powerful story of finding peace of mind in the face of insurmountable grief – but it is also the story about facing one of the bleakest and wildest places in the world and battling violent winds and tempestuous seas, injected with humour, highs and lows, frustrations and triumphs.

Paul Heiney is a charismatic and successful British broadcaster for over 30 years. He is the presenter of Countrywise, the successful prime time series about rural Britain, its people and their stories. Rural issues are a matter of heart to the pioneer organic farmer Paul Heiney.

In 1990, apart from his TV career he decided to master the skills of traditional farming using carthorses, Suffolk Punches, instead of tractors, and farmed 40 acres of Suffolk countryside. This experience inspired not only his hugely successful column, Farmer’s Diary, but also a number of books. He has written on rural, farming and maritime matters.

Paul Heiney lives in close touch with nature and the ocean is his second home – he is an ocean adventurer. In 2005, he fulfilled a longstanding ambition to sail the Atlantic singlehanded in his own boat, the size of an average family cruiser.

Since then, Paul Heiney has taken on even greater nautical challenges when he sailed south, alone for some of the time, through the tropics towards the south Atlantic in order the circumnavigate the treacherous waters to be found in the most remote part of the world, and to round Cape Horn. This was a round trip of 18,000 miles – in an effort to reconnect with his son, Nicholas, who took his own life at the age of 23. During the voyage he found a peace of mind, and a way to face the future without his son.

Whether at sea or land, Paul Heiney always goes for the adventure. Paul is an entertaining and enlightening speaker, who regularly hosts events, gives informative keynote speeches, and presents corporate productions.

Paul Heiney is humorous, highly professional and a natural storyteller. When talking about his sailing adventures, he wishes that his audience takes away an understanding of why people go to sea, alone, to sail to the farthest parts of the earth. He hopes that they will conclude that if he can do it, anybody can.

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    Speaker Paul Heiney Keynote Topics

    • Motivation
    • Peace of mind
    • Enivironment
    • Organic Farming
    • Conference Speaking/Hosting

Interview with Paul Heiney

After several years as a successful broadcaster you decided to become an organic farmer aside from your career, why?

I like taking opportunities and a chance came for me the experience the culture and practices of the working horse – which was my main interest. The organic nature of the farming was something of an aside. I believed, and still believed, that food and farming has many lessons to learn from the practices of the past and the challenge is to extract those and make them fit into a modern farming world where profits have to be made and mouths fed.

What can the ocean teach us about life?

Being alone on the ocean is a complete distillation of your life. Everything that is good about you, and everything that is bad, becomes condensed and you discover who you really are. You see this in the way you behave when the challenges of ocean sailing present themselves, how you cope with the emergencies and also with the tedium of an everyday life lived in isolation. For that reason, you can walk taller when you have sailed oceans.

How did sailing across the world influence your life?

I didn’t go round the world, only to Cape Horn and back. It made me realise that everything is achievable if you make the effort,  that you can discover hidden strengths while at the same time you have to confront your weaknesses. I’m more relaxed about things now: everything seems easier than getting that boat through 18,000 miles.

How do you prepare for speaking engagements?

I like to know how big an audience is, and what kind of venue – have they eaten, are they waiting to eat etc. But more important are the people and their background. Are they seeking simply entertainment, or are they coming to this in a thoughtful frame of mind.  How do I want them to feel when they leave?

Will they understand anything about sailing/farming, or will I have to explain? How can I make it work for those who come with some background knowledge, and those who don’t?

Why should clients book you for their next event?

I have appeared at many venues over the years to talk about my adventures on the land and on the sea. I have yet to come away from any of them thinking other than it has been a success – and the organisers would agree.

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Keynote topics with Paul Heiney