If you want to book a speaker for your group or for an after dinner event you can have a look at what we can offer here or go to www.sandyleongspeaker.co.uk for more details
SANDY LEONG is a historian, passionate about bringing history to life. A lively and entertaining speaker she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets.
She is a professional speaker, and published author, married to a Malaysian, spending time living and working in the UK & Malaysia.
She has had a lifelong career as an educator and developer of people; she is a qualified teacher, past CEO of a Racial Equality Council; Guest Lecturer at Universities and Colleges of Further Education; a regular speaker at conferences; guest speaker with P&O, Fred Olsen, Saga and Thomson’s cruise ships; and sought after speaker for U3A’s, WI’s, Historical Societies and other groups.
Other interests include, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for a large Charity and a Past President of Loughborough Speakers Club, holding the Advanced Speaker Award.
Introducing the Tudors with Nursery Rhymes
Nursery rhymes, a traditional poem or song for children, or political parody? Many were written during the Tudor times and give us an insight to what was in the minds of the ordinary people. Come and meet the Tudors via the medium of nursery rhymes.
Henry VIII – the Highs & Lows
A charismatic young man comes to the throne but leaves it a tyrant. Best remembered for his six marriages, what else did Henry do in his reign? He ran a splendid court, built a navy, invaded France, quashed Scotland and also held the first European ‘summit’ meeting at great expense.
Elizabeth I – Ultimate PR & Pragmatism?
Elizabeth’s long reign is always marked as a success. As a women she had to be particularly astute to hold on to her power and enforce her will. She was a great image maker and probably invented PR. The age of exploration began in her reign and the setting up of the East India Company. She was one clever lady!
Spicing up a Tudor Life
England caught up with Spain and Portugal’s quest for exotic spices and land during the reign of Elizabeth I, although Henry VII had been interested his son Henry VIII wasn’t. Edward VI wasn’t around very long and Mary I was involved in her struggles at home. But during Elizabeth’s reign England started to become a power to be reckoned with.
What the Tudor’s Did for Us
During Tudor times a new way of thinking was created; Henry VIII redefined the Church; the printing press brought a revolution in mass communication; the foundations of modern science were being laid; better maps being drawn aiding the navigation of ships to new lands. By the time Elizabeth I died people were exploring and settling in new lands and all manner of new things had reached England.
Lady Jane Grey – the Forgotten Tudor
In Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, stands the ruins of Bradgate Manor, the birthplace & home of Lady Jane Grey, born into the Tudor family and dubbed the Nine Day Queen. This is a story of a girl with outstanding natural ability, whose strength of character and remarkable faith shine out, despite the darkness that often surrounded her. She paid the ultimate price for a throne she didn’t seek.
Witches in Tudor Times
Behind the stereotypical image of the witch flying on a broomstick wearing a black pointy hat lies a long history of trials, persecution and torture that claimed the lives of hundreds of women and men. The first English Statute was brought in by Henry VIII in 1542 when no one was safe from the accusation of witchcraft that took hold in Tudor times.
The Viking Collection
From the Fury of the Norsemen Deliver Us
For 300 years the Vikings took the northern world by storm. In search of land, slaves, gold and silver, brave warriors and explorers set sail from Scandinavia. The speed and daring of the Vikings was legendary and Christian monks wrote with horror about violent raids on monasteries and towns. Come and find out about when the Vikings came to the England and what they got up to.
Bitter is the Wind Tonight
This is the first line of an old Irish poem hoping that the wind is too strong for a Viking attack… it probably sums up the hopes of others living on the islands around the British coast. However it wasn’t all about raiding it was also about trading and settling. Dublin was founded as a Viking centre for trade, and Orkney, Shetland and the Isle of Man became desirable real estate for Vikings.
The Power of Word Fame - The Viking Way of Life
The Vikings have a reputation for their violent raids upon other countries, but is this the full picture? Viking life was harsh, men were expected to be tough and the best way to die, was young and in battle. Come and find out who the Vikings really were and how they lived.
Beyond the Edge of the World
An island called Thule by an ancient Greek who said it was 6 days sail north of Britain in around 330BC is referred to in history. He was probably talking about northern Norway but the name stuck until the Vikings found the land they called Iceland and made it a successful settlement for men wanting to better themselves.
Greenland – a Story of Viking PR
Greenland was settled from Iceland and carries on a family tradition of getting into trouble. It begins with the story of Eric the Red, a man with a temper and the need for adventure and includes the story of his son Leif the Lucky finding North America.
Halfdan was Here! Go East Young Man
The people that were living in what is today Sweden went east, hopping from island to island and river to river looking for trade opportunities. They went through Finland, Poland, and Russia and as far as Constantinople where they negotiated favourable trading rights. Another Viking success story.
Valhalla – The Ultimate Destination
Vikings lived in a pagan society. They were one of the last people in Europe to accept Christianity. They had fascinating beliefs in how the universe was created, what the nine worlds in the universe were and who inhabited them. All these beliefs no doubt influenced by the ice, fire and mountains of the land they lived in.
Humour & Tragedy - Viking Mythology
The Vikings were a passionate, ruthless people with a deep seated tradition of storytelling sitting around their fires in the long dark winters, the more important of them employing visiting skalds to entertain them and their families. Their mythology is full of entertaining stories of gods and goddesses, monsters, giants, elves and trolls.
Histories of Stuff We Couldn’t Do Without
A Nice Cup of Tea - A Potted History of Tea.
The British answer to any problem or crisis is often a cup of tea! If you have had a shock or an upset someone will make you a nice cup of tea. But how did the British love affair with tea start? It is a fascinating tale of adventure, taxes, criminality, temperance, rationing and a morale booster in World War 1 and 2 and of a Duchess who established the ritual of afternoon tea.
The Great Tea Robbery
Perhaps the greatest theft of trade secrets in the history of mankind. Robert Fortune, a young Scotsman went to China to steal their secrets of tea. Travelling disguised as a Chinese merchant by the name of Sing Wa, he went where no westerner had been before, into the interior of China. An amazing tale of 19th Century industrial espionage to bring the best tea to Britain.
Mocha, Latte & the Wine of Araby – A Short History of our Love Affair with Coffee
In the 17th century it was believed that coffee had medicinal properties; Pope Clement in 1600 gave his permission for Catholics to drink it; the first Coffee House opened in England in the mid 1600’s. Our love affair with the coffee bean goes back several centuries, before becoming a popular drink on the high street.
The Golden Age of Coffee Houses
Coffee Houses in the 17th and 18th centuries played a central role in life in the cities; they were where men met to discuss the new ideas of the time and conduct business with wits sharpened by caffeine instead of being dulled by alcohol. Coffee Houses served coffee, chocolate and tea, provided their customers with newspapers and were where many of our national institutions began. It is said that they fueled the Enlightenment.
Food of the Gods – When Chocolate was Worth More than Silver
The Aztecs believed that cocoa seeds were a gift from the god of wisdom. The Spanish took the bean back to Spain in 1528 and kept its’ source a secret. But 1520 chocolate arrived in England and the first Chocolate House opened in 1657. The Quakers were instrumental in making it popular, the Swiss refined it; and now we can’t seem to do without it! The God of wisdom gave us chocolate – I’m not sure if it was a wise move!
All for the Love of Sugar
Sugar influenced the slave trade and was used as a medicine; it was a luxury for the rich and now has the reputation as a comfort food and many people crave it. Elizabeth I was so fond of it her teeth turned black. Few foodstuffs have had such an impact on human beings as sugar.
Spicing Up Our Lives – A History of our Passion for Spices
Spices have been important to mankind for a long time, they have been used for culinary purposes, as preservatives and as medicine. At times they served as a currency - you could pay your rent in peppercorns; the quest for them caused wars and made men fortunes.
Hey Diddle Diddle – History & Meaning of Nursery Rhymes
Passed on down through the generations from parents to children, nursery rhymes have been part of our childhood. Many are veiled commentaries on political events and people in power, using subtle references and clever word play. Some nursery rhymes have it all, like a good film, royal scandal, illicit love affairs and bloodshed.
Mad as a Hatter – Origins & Meanings of Sayings
Some people could say that I’m as mad as a hatter because I’m fascinated by the origins of the sayings we use in everyday conversation. There are more sayings than you can shake a stick at. For any doubting Thomas' out there I'll let the cat out of the bag and pull out all the stops to entertain you, with stories of how the sayings we use all the time, came about.
Black Cats, New Moons & Ladders - The Origins of Superstitions
A belief in luck and fate are the key components of superstitions. Do you throw salt over your shoulder if you spill it; know that it's good luck if you see two magpies together; wonder if things didn't go as planned because it was Friday 13th and touch wood for good luck? But where did these beliefs originate?
What’s in a Name? – The Origins & Meanings of Surnames
Your surname links your family across generations and each has a story to tell. It may tell you where your forbears originated from, what their work was or social status or even if they had a distinguishing feature. It was the Normans who insisted we had one. We use them every day, take them for granted and yet they are one of our most personal and interesting possessions.
Hidden Meanings of Place Names
The origins of place names gives a fascinating insight into Britain’s past history. Some place names come from the earliest inhabitants of Britain but many are associated with our invaders who have left their mark. Did you know that Nottingham used to be called Snotts Settlement? Some place names have evolved over the centuries and others have stayed the same and some aren’t what they seem.
The Bishop’s Finger – A History of the Public House
The British public house started life as a Roman wine bar and dates back over 2000 years. Ale was central to the Anglo Saxon sense of community, the place to get drink often marked by using a bush as a sign; by 1577 it is thought that there were 17,000 alehouse, 2000 inns and 400 taverns in England many with really interesting names that are still with us today and can trace back their origins.
A Potted History of Malaya & Singapore
Malaya and Singapore held important strategic advantages from the 1700’s enabling Britain to take part in the trade of spices. They later claimed Malaya & Singapore for the British Crown. This talks takes you through the history of Malaya and Singapore up to the end of World War II.
Francis Light – from Illegitimate Boy to Founder of Penang
The age of exploration gave men a chance of an interesting life. Francis Light, born in Suffolk rose through the ranks of the British East India Company to become the founder of Penang. An interesting tale of a determined young man.
Stamford Raffles and Singapore
Stamford Raffles, a boy with little formal education and humble beginnings but with a thirst for knowledge and an adventurous spirit; he worked for the East India Company as a clerk from a young age before travelling to the East and went on to be the founder of Singapore.
Behind Every Man… Colonial Women in Malaya & Singapore
The early explorers were mainly men, however some women did travel with their husbands, suffering difficult sea journeys and uncertain living conditions; later on more women went to Malaya & Singapore and colonial society started. These women who are almost invisible in history must have been a special type of woman.
Making the Map Pink – Malaya & Singapore
The British East India Company was set up in 1600 to aid the quest for trade. At first spices were enough but later on land acquisition became desirable, leading the British to colonise parts of the world; and wherever the British went in the world they left their mark with not only in trade and buildings but with Botanic Gardens and Hill Stations.
Malaysia & My Chinese Family – from a Western Wife’s Perspective
Living across two cultures is sometimes not easy but it is always interesting. This talk is a mixture of a travelogue and tales of living with a Chinese family highlighting special occasions and just normal life.
Santa Claus & All Things Christmas
Christmas is celebrated all over the world. A Christian festival that is enjoyed with traditions and stories. But who was St Nicolas and how did Santa Claus come about? Who developed the story of Santa’s reindeer and when did sending Christmas cards start and why do we put a fairy on top of the tree? Come and listen to a history of the origins of well loved traditions.
When Christmas was cancelled! - A History of Christmas.
The Christmas celebration that we know today has been a long time in the making as a religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration in the northern hemisphere, before the arrival of Jesus. Christmas has been celebrated in different ways over the centuries and was even cancelled when England was a republic!
All talks are 45 minutes long and are backed up with an entertaining PowerPoint presentation. Fee is negotiable depending on where you are located and the size of your group.
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Contact Sandy Leong
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