Gill Hicks AM MBE — Motivational Speaker for Peace, Artist, Performer, and Survivor of the 2005 London Bombings

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[00:00:00] Hello, thanks for joining us. My name is Richard Gerver. I've worked in education, human development and leadership for the last three decades and in this podcast series I'm chatting to a diverse range of people from a number of different fields, from business, sport, the arts, education, philanthropy, and through the series we're exploring What it is our young people and organizations really need in order to thrive, not just survive, in times of increasing change and uncertainty.

Richard Gerver: Welcome to The Learning Bridge. Today, my guest is Gill Hicks. Gill is a remarkable human being who through what we can only describe as an [00:01:00] extraordinary life with Challenge with joy with moments of just extraordinary humanity is one of the great champions of human behavior, human thinking, relationships, cooperation, collaboration all of those things are things that I think our children have always needed.

but are going to need in abundance in the next few challenging decades. So first of all, Gill, can I just say, thank you so, so, so much for giving us the time today. And can I ask you to just to start off by telling your own story a little bit, tell us a little bit about yourself and also what you're up to at the moment.

Gill Hicks: I, I don't know why I sort of feel always very challenged by the idea of describing who I am and what I do because I think I'm one of those few people that are the sum of very many movable [00:02:00] parts. So I'm still not quite settled on what exactly I do other than desperately trying to make my life make sense.

And for it to make a difference in the world and to be driven by a real deep desire to not only make it count, but to think about the legacy, to think about what it is. that I've left behind. What is my footprint? And I'm using the analogy of footprint very carefully because part of me being thrust into a world of very deep thinking and pondering and urgency has been because I am a survivor of a terrorist bomb attack in London in 2005.

Now, I miraculously survived the bomb attack. I was one person removed from the suicide bomber in an underground [00:03:00] train in London. However, I have continued on with very quite horrific permanent injuries, and that is that I've lost both of my legs. Quite a lot of my hearing and I only have one functional lung.

Now, that for me is problematic because I'm actually a trained jazz singer, Richard, and so I was possibly more devastated by not being able to return to the world of jazz and sing equally as I was not being able to be free with mobility. So freedom is something that fascinates me and being able to have a voice, it took me a very long time to even learn how to speak again.

So, every opportunity, which is wonderful to be on your podcast every opportunity to use my voice and being able to share I still feel that little giddy [00:04:00] excitement of being completely in awe of my body of my body. of therefore our ability and capability to do things that other people would see as extraordinary, but of course when you're doing them and you're in them, you see them as absolutely necessary.

So I kind of like the idea of meshing the view of extraordinary with what is just necessary to get it done. So, so, so that's me. I'm I'm an artist. I work in counter extremism and so it depends on what day You pick up the phone of how I answer, but my greatest love and my greatest passion is creating music because I think music is a language that everyone can share and it doesn't have a barrier and equally the same for art.

When I'm with my canvas, I'm painting for humanity. That's what I'm doing. I'm painting to give a message, to [00:05:00] say, look at this and find your answers deep inside.

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Richard Gerver: It's funny you talk about the arts and music, and I think we'll probably come on and chat about those, I hope, in detail. It's fun I loved art as a kid, art was my thing.

I wanted, by the way, just so people know, I wanted to love music in terms of, I, I was a singer as a kid, I was in the school choir, right? Which is really interesting on so many levels. My first actual singing performance was playing Joseph, I went to an all boys primary school. And I played Joseph in our little nativity play, which was funny for two reasons to my family.

One, because I came from a Jewish family. And what was I doing on Friday night? I was playing Joseph. I think the worst thing for me, though, was that Mary was played by another boy, obviously, who smelt vile. So it was horrible having to, oh, but the point is, my music career, my singing career ended when the following year I was given the great privilege of singing the solo first verse to Once in Royal David's [00:06:00] City.

at the Carole concert and my, I opened my mouth, Jewel, and once we finished this, you can explain to me why this happened. Nothing came out, and it was the most, it was the most horrific, embarrassing moment of my childhood. But the other thing to say is art. Now, I was always very good at art, and art was my thing, and interestingly enough, I don't know, we, again, we might talk about this a bit later on.

Everybody said, oh Richard, you're amazing, oh you're an incredible, draw for, it was like a performing pony, right? Draw for grandma so and so, draw for auntie, draw for uncle, at school it was all, we need Richard to do a demonstration etc. So it got to the point when I left school at 18, I never wanted to paint or draw again, because it was like being a performing seal.

But interestingly, I've picked up a paintbrush this year for the first time in 40, 37 years. And [00:07:00] I've loved it, and I've loved it because it's given my mental health such an extraordinary boost. So we might come on to that as well if it's okay, but I just want to take you back a little bit and to ask, I want to ask you a little bit about your own childhood and education because And I'd love to know a little bit about your journey into music and a jazz love of jazz because I think, sadly, music education in a lot of developed countries around the world is under threat of funding, particularly in the public school system around the world, where it seems to me that it's undervalued by policy.

So I'd love to know a little bit about how you got into music. And just a little bit of insight into that would be great.

Gill Hicks: So I grew up, I was born in Adelaide in South Australia, and I grew up around the coast. So it's a very idyllic environment. However I am the product of a wonderful [00:08:00] Scottish mother and a a Spanish based father, Spanish Cornish.

And so I didn't get the dark skin. I got the sort of white blue skin. So I was that child in the seventies that was plonked on the beach in, in, in Australia and just went red and. You know, peeled and went back white again. So I, physically, I don't think I was cut out to be an Australian. But it is, it was a beautiful environment to, to grow up.

My family, my, my father had several jobs, which meant we moved a lot. So my early education was I think I went to sort of six different primary schools. And the outcome of that is. You always have to be the new kid. So I think there's a lot around that for me of what it meant to be the new kid.

However when we're talking about passageways to, to, to [00:09:00] music, for me, the discovery of music was that language that I could be the new kid with. So I could bring the music, I played guitar, I played piano. I could draw just like you were saying, Richard. So, so these were the little kind of cues in which to disarm people and be okay about being the new kids and having something that was interesting for people to flock around.

So I very early understood that. that these things were important to make friends and to not only just make friends but to make really cool friends and I remember actually the funny thing is I'm now the mother of a 10 year old daughter and And it's been very interesting actually to, to start to see the comparisons of just one generation of how my mother and father were with me and how I am with her in and I, I sort of think about this a lot because in [00:10:00] primary school, one of the, one of the primary schools I went to was very advanced in its adoption of.

Quite interesting new ideas and that was the primary school I was at that really shaped me. We were all taught sign language and we had quite a large deaf community and it was I hate to use the word, but it was normalizing difference. We all stood in a queue for the lunch orders and things and we all stood and signed with each other rather than spoke.

Now fast forward, I'm a bit rusty and I know that there's Auslan and there's, in the British Sign Language, there's very different uses of sign, but when I was in hospital, I was unable to speak for months, so I found these old Deep inside that it comes back up the ability to start signing and yet no one could [00:11:00] speak to me in signing, so I just had to write copious notes.

But yeah, long story short this particular school asked my parents to come and see them, see the principal because they were so struck and I think I was probably eight. They were so taken by my artwork, and they brought in my parents and they said said to my parents, Look, this is quite exceptional work, and we would love to work with you, as her parents to develop this, because this is really something.

And I'll never forget, still to this day, my mum looking at me and saying, Oh, isn't that lovely, Julie? And that was it. And I just thought, gosh, if that was me with my daughter, I'd be like, okay, what do we need to do? Do we need, is it New York? Is it London? Where do we need to be based? Whatever it takes I'm there and we're there in this and I just thought, isn't that [00:12:00] extraordinary that I got the sort of, the endearing.

Brush off of how lovely rather than the kind of powerhouse of let's really push this forward. And I remember my father always saying, you are not to be an artist. You know, you will not make money. You will if you're any good, your paintings will only be of value after you're done, after you've died.

That's not what you're going to be doing. And so I think he wanted me to go into the sort of more classic. Fields of medicine or law, and that absolutely wasn't for me at all. My, my parents died a year apart from each other, so this is another very large shaping. And I was 16 when dad got ill, he died when I was 17, and mum died when I was 18.

And so I pursued the arts because dad had died and I just thought, I can be free and do what I want to do. And and because I think parents to me are [00:13:00] anchors, I think your family are anchors. And I think anchors are very important. If you're living in a world where you need to have something that, that gives you a stability, gives you a compass, gives you a sense of everything will be all right because you're anchored down and you're safe from the storm.

So with those anchors removed I just, I hopped on the plane and headed for London and I thought I'd be there for two years. And 25 years, I think, I came back to Australia. So I think of myself as an honorary Londoner, really. London definitely has my heart. But,

Richard Gerver: yeah. It certainly has a climate that fits your complexion better than Adelaide, right?

It's far better. I mean, so many interesting things in what you've just said that I think really Fascinate me. The first resonates on a very personal level, very powerfully. Different generation, one generation back, my mother, [00:14:00] so I think we're the same generation, so my mother would have been the same generation as your parents, was incredibly musical.

I mean, she actually When she married my father, her first marriage, when she was very young, she was she was 20, 21. She wrote the waltz to the, their first waltz. She wrote their waltz for their, I know, right? And she always wanted a career in the arts. That was her absolute. Passion. But, of course, to her parents it was an anathema.

The idea that she, as a middle class Jewish aspirational woman growing up in London, would end up in the arts was absolutely not the thing. And I think it's a really interesting thing because that generational shift. It happened for me almost the way it would have happened for your daughter. My mother grew up with the ghost of the things she always could have done.

And as it happened, ended up marrying my father, the wrong person at the [00:15:00] wrong time. And that eventually didn't work out, right? But she grew up with the ghost of what could have been.

Gill Hicks: And that's painful. That's painful. And that was

Richard Gerver: hugely so, I think. And I think in a way, where you were able to eventually explore your passions and your loves, she had to do so through us, my brother and myself.

And so she had that courage almost a generation early. To turn around to us and say, look, I mean, having been a parent myself, and my children have now grown up, right, I realize the courage it takes as a parent to turn around and go, listen, just do what you want, pursue your love, pursue the things you're interested in, because in the back of our heads, there's still that nagging doubt, right?

I want my child to be safe and secure and happy and, but all of those things. And I wonder whether, and this is, I'm A long winded way round of asking you the question. I wonder if we're now at a very interesting [00:16:00] tipping point where my mom was rare for her generation, you as a parent are maybe less rare, because we grew up in a time where our parents had been taught and therefore taught us that you're, Your life was about finding security and certainty, and as soon as you find the route of security and certainty for you, lock it down, get your head down, because your pursuit in the end will be security and safety.

And I wonder what your thoughts are on that, and maybe more challengingly, Gill, because You know, we'll come on to this in more detail in a while. You know, your life has at various points been thrown into moments of chaos, from your parents passing to, moving to London as a kid, to what happened to you in 2005.

Do you think that opportunity to, if you like, live a more eclectic [00:17:00] life as a young woman, set you in, and I don't want to put this in like a glorified moment, but, Has, have you, do you think, been able to deal with the changes, uncertainty and drama of your life better because you had a mindset that was different from most of our

Gill Hicks: generation?

I'd like to think so. I think we don't know, is the answer, because I haven't had it any other way. So this is all I know. And I think for me what is slightly different and what is incredibly lonely as an as an eclectic sort of, experiences, as you rightly said is I'm always conscious of not only the fragility of life, but but to find all the moments of joy and gratefulness.

And I'm really interested in the mundane small talk things that I've put very little importance on and in the hierarchy of importance. And those things can be difficult because [00:18:00] mainstream life runs on a system of. What I call sort of being gently numbed to the realities and I think putting it straight out there for me, even thinking about, imagine if we were if we spoke about we were educated in a sense of our own mortality.

You know, that should be the greatest motivator of all. Forget all the motivational industry and books and we just knowing that it ends. So whatever you're doing that doesn't work, whatever you're doing that does work, everything's this fine balance, and it could all have, it could all evaporate tomorrow.

So. Enjoy it while it's there, being present in that moment because it is all we have, but to be keeping on driving yourself to find that driver within you to say, what do I want my life to be? How do I [00:19:00] live it in increments of understanding that it will end? And the little kind of caveat that we're given is that we don't know when and we don't know how.

So that's like the little funny pill, isn't it? Where you say, yes I'd quite like to be alive. Thank you very much. Ah, but there's small print to the contract. And so. That, it fascinates me that I think that should be enough information for human beings to actually live extraordinary lives.

And so, war, conflict. Lack of motivation the running in a kind of cyclic numbness of living, it really fascinates me because I don't get it when we put the lens over all of that and say that it ends. Yeah, we're only here for an unspecified amount of time. So everything you do should be perhaps drummed into us of making, making a difference so that you.

have an [00:20:00] eternal sense of being on the planet. You know, that to me is what drives me. It's not about having a statue or a monument. It's leaving that sort of entwined threads of something that, that, you know that tells the world you existed.

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Richard Gerver: I remember a few years ago coming across another Australian it must be something in the water down there, the work of Bronnie Ware, which is so moving and so powerful. Is it Five, Five Regrets Before Dying, I think, or Seven Regrets Before Dying. It's an amazing book. She was apparently, as you know, but just to let our listeners know.

She was a palliative care nurse who wrote a book about what were the most common conversations she had in her palliative care job with people who were passing. And none of them were about, oh yeah, I wish I'd spent more hours at work or earned more money or drove a faster car or. had a bigger house.

It was all about, I wish I'd spent more time with the people I loved. I wished I'd I'd smiled more, laughed more. And [00:21:00] I think it's such a potent thing, isn't it? Because for most of us, I think, I suppose we become, we're not terribly aware of our mortality. as young people, but as we get older, we are, I mean, I know that I became, I started to become obsessed with my mortality when I got to about 40, I think, which I went a bit soon, but you know, hopefully but I went about for, and I suppose a lot of that was about what you're talking about, which is legacy.

Which is, but what do I actually, what do I actually gonna leave that makes the world a better place? And I'm not talking about in some biblical way I'm just in terms of the ripples around the life I've lived and what will that mean? And I think in my first career as an educator, I hope that had profound That, that was profound.

I suppose by the time I was 40 and having left, just left education, that's when I started to question. So, So what happens now in [00:22:00] those reactions and interactions? And just a final thought on that before I move on. I remember hearing somebody recently talk about this and she was extraordinarily eloquent, you know saying that when you pass your memory will be really strong and your actions will be really strong for people for a few years.

But after a hundred years, almost nobody will know you even existed. So it's that thing about, so what do I do in the moment, in my life, that makes a difference? Because that, it's not just the mark you make, is it? It's the fact that your mark will fade over time once you've gone.

Gill Hicks: And, just to sort of, I guess, add to the vision of this, For me, it's, it was coming back being a lover of urban life in London and it, but it was coming back to the ocean and that's when it really sort of hit me at how profound the ocean and this vast, majestic body of water was.

And it almost felt that I was the tiniest, [00:23:00] insignificant grain of sand and that the ocean in its rhythmic sort of way of speaking. Was almost saying to me, I've heard it all before, but thank you for bringing me your problems, but I've heard it all before and I'll hear it all again, but thank you for bringing me your problems.

And I, I find that when I need that sort of sense check, I rush to the ocean just to make me feel so insignificant and ridiculous.

Richard Gerver: I think that, again, that has so much potential. I think it speaks to an issue I'd really like to get onto, actually, which is this thing about a perception that so many of us have about being powerless in a world that's revolving so fast and often perceptive the perception is out of control.

We're recording this. as the last throws of the Global Climate Conference COP28 is coming to an end in Dubai. And without being too controversial, it looks like yet again, they are going [00:24:00] to scupper the chance to really make meaningful change and try and reverse the damage being done to our oceans and our seas and our land and nature.

But again, my guess is there'll be a lot of people, particularly young people, looking on to the mess. that middle aged people like me are making of the world right now in Dubai, and feeling anger because they feel powerless. And I think this is where I'd really like to get into a conversation about young people, particularly.

But about that the joy in a way of being this tiny speck on this huge planet is awe inspiring, and can be joyous. But I wonder whether we're living in an age and time which has been at a worrying pace for decades now, where that feeling of powerlessness for so many of our generation and younger generations is turning to anger.

And I wonder what your views are about how we can frame that as individuals that feeling of powerlessness.

Gill Hicks: I think if we're looking at [00:25:00] political banding where we rely on decisions to happen. I think. A great reminder for me is actually they are the reflection of what we have voted for.

If we're living in a democratic country. And so actually, we are the people, the majority of the people that can vote have the power. So if we're not happy about where something is going, it is up to us to change that. And I think politicians are always they're driven by being re elected or being in power.

And so to get to that point, they are relying on the general public to get them there. So they are always tapping into what are the topics, what are the subjects. that I need to be hot on to get that seat. And I think there lies our power because perhaps, and I say this with a capital P perhaps society [00:26:00] has felt That mistaken powerlessness, particularly around the environment, as as a, an almost giving up in a fait accompli of, well, there's nothing we can do now.

So we just hope that we know, because all of us, and I dare say it. I'm not a fan of protests myself. I'm not a fan of placards. I think they were very effective when they first were brought into vision of the 60s and people have never seen marches in that way. I think the new form of protest for me is actually just.

acting. So what happens if all of us decided not to drive our car? What happens if all of us decided actually we are all going to stop doing buying plastics that aren't recyclable. You know, we have that power as consumers, as people that use the land. And look, I know it's hard because it's not [00:27:00] convenient.

All of these things that we would have to change personally don't make our lives any easier. But I think there has to be a wider society decision of if we want to build any type of future that idea of decay is coming sooner than we had anticipated. So if you want to put a selfish cap on it all It may be in our lifetime that we will see, well, we actually, I correct myself, we are already seeing climate refugees.

So there is, this is real and it is up to us now to make that difference. And I think the politicians would follow suit. if they saw enough of their voting public making those changes for themselves.

Richard Gerver: And so, I mean, to talk to that point, do you think we need to do more? And again we'll come on in a bit to your journey post the terrorist attack and your passion and what you've [00:28:00] done since, but do you think we do enough?

to help young people understand the power of democracy, the power of politics at a micro level, if you like, at their level. And do you think we should be doing more? And maybe moreover, in the world that you've strided since 2005, do you think that is a major issue that we need

Gill Hicks: to address. Absolutely. I think any politician if they haven't been a career politician, as in they've come through a family route of politics, most people that find themselves in politics start out because they want to change the world.

You know, so every intention is fire. You know, I want to change the world. Come with me. Vote for me. Let's do this. And then what happens is they get into the bureaucracy and the structure and realize actually they're not there to change the world. They're [00:29:00] there to make policies and to worry about budgets.

And if there's a sliver of hope of changing something then great. They've had a great run, but. Really the whole goalposts change, and this is where I think we need to not only be far more aware of the passions of young people, of that sense of you talk to any young person, if they're, if they've gone into you know, my speciality is people going into extremism at young ages Primarily that's driven because they feel that they're fighting a cause.

They think that they're doing something that's righteous. They want to belong. So how do we shift that passion into something that's for the betterment of all and society rather than the, these narrow fields of detrimental, harm and extremism. So I think it's there. I think the ingredients are there.

I think like we're living in a world like never before [00:30:00] that when of having social media and communications at a fingertip and you know, he or she who has the greatest TikTok has the influence. So how do we motivate that for good? And I think that's the real.

trick that perhaps education needs to address of let's break down influences. Yeah, education to me is going behind the scene and telling you how it works. So, yeah, why does marketing work? Marketing works because if we unpick that, what these clever people are trying to essentially get you to do is buy this thing.

Now this thing might be really bad for your health. That's not the aim of the game. We need to make money, so we want you to buy that thing. So for me, education is picking from behind, and exploring behind, almost like that beautiful Wizard of Oz scene, where you go behind and there's this dear little man, and it's like he's being seen and caught.

Oh and to me that's education. [00:31:00] That's education. It's demystifying the world. It's exploring things like influences and finding their meaning. You know, why are they why are they popular? Why do they cut through? Why do you listen to them over someone else? You know, and try to find, I think every, everyone can relate to facts.

You know, when you deal with facts, it's, it actually becomes quite exciting. And that to me is the world of education. It's presenting facts and you can't mess with facts. You know, one of the techniques I use when I'm talking to someone who holds an extremist belief is I draw I sit across them and I draw a great big number six.

And I asked them what they see and of course they say, well, I'm looking at a nine and I say, okay, I turn it around and I said, well, you know what you'd appreciate that actually what we're dealing with here is, let's just call [00:32:00] this the truth, but the truth. Can have two sides of depending on the angle that you're coming at and I saw something different than you But the thing is that object is still the same thing and so can we start to build our common respect for each other based on that model and It generally it works Wow.


Richard Gerver: you. I want to come on, if I can now, to the events of 2005 and how that changed your life and created, if you like, a new sense of purpose, ultimately, for you. I mean, I remember it very very vividly, indeed. I was a head teacher at the time. I think it was the day before the UK had the Olympic Games.

We'd been given the Olympics, so it was an extraordinary, yeah, it was an extraordinary moment because there we were feeling, as a nation, intense pride and extraordinary I mean, I know there were stories at the time who people who should have been on those [00:33:00] commuter buses and trains didn't make it because they'd been out partying too hard celebrating the night before.

Then what happened. And I remember my sister worked in central London, used to travel in on the tube. And of course, I couldn't get hold of her. It was chaos for everyone. And just that juxtaposition, I think is what I remember going into school that morning and spending the first hour at 7.

30 talking about how extraordinarily wonderful it was going to be British and then that happened. I think what I find most remarkable about your story in many ways, Gill and maybe it's just my ignorance, is if that had happened to me, I would have spent the rest of my life railing against everybody and anybody, and just being bloody furious with the world.

And I wonder if you're okay to talk to us about how your mindset evolved over that period. I

Gill Hicks: will start by challenging that, Richard. I know that you know you. But I will challenge it because I think if you were in this [00:34:00] position, you would be so grateful to have what you have. And I think the lesson for me I've been taught something by the, firstly by the suicide bomber who was 19 years old.

He taught me. to never presume anything about anyone you don't know. And so I, every time I go to jump on a kind of you know, a train on social media or whatever it is, I just I heed his lesson and I say, no, I need to understand the facts. I need to know what this person is about before I pass any opinion.

Because I often think. what, how different the outcomes would have been if this young person had asked any of us and had discussed. His ideas of what he thought he was fighting in. [00:35:00] And so I'm very passionate about, again, dis, disassembling the idea of cause and righteousness. And I talk about terrorism and extremism particularly extremism as really working for a an organized crime network.

And organized crime networks. Aren't very interesting you are dying really as an unemploy, you as an unpaid employee rather than someone who is being given any greatness in an afterlife. So, I look at it very much in that structure. For me I was without any pulse, heartbeat, any vital sort of signs for about 30 minutes.

So a very long time to essentially be. gone. And I'm friends with all of my rescuers every single person that touched my [00:36:00] body in desperately trying to save my life. What I felt from them, and Richard I never tire of saying this, what I felt from each of them was a sense of absolute, being wrapped in unconditional love.

And my, I it, that Really sort of came to the forefront for me in a rush when I read the arm bracelet that I was given in hospital and it just said one unknown estimated female. So four words written on an arm bracelet. And I still reflect on that often to think that not only was I anonymous.

that my body was so badly injured that there was an ambiguity around my gender, and yet, every single person that passed me to their next rescuer [00:37:00] held my body and did everything they could to keep me alive. And it's this that I've kind of based my life on, of not having bias. of connecting and seeing the fellow human being, regardless of what we present as, because when we take everything off that are our representations, then it didn't matter if I was religious, it didn't matter if I was poor, it didn't matter if I was wealthy.

Yet my clothes had blown off in the blast. Yet we were leveled. And I think that to me is the most spectacular form of deep insight that I've been given by that whole experience that I carry now on in every fiber of my work. Everything I do is to try and share that insight to say when it [00:38:00] all comes down to it.

What is extraordinary is connecting with the human being and that humanity, when we do that, can achieve great things. When we take away all of the signals to say, I'm different, I'm not like you and I'm living, I'm the living example so this isn't me just talking about it. I am the living example, the living product of humanity working together.

And so I went out of my way to meet every rescuer they have christened my daughter. So when I had my daughter, I took her back. She got christened in, in a fountain in Russell Square in London. So around the corner from where the bombing happened. And so they are all her, we had an imam, we had a rabbi we had everyone thrown in vicar.

We just thought it would just. Present it all and let's have this wonderful, big, [00:39:00] colourful idea of celebration of life. And for me, it was to say to them, in saving my life, wonderfully, incredibly, I've gone on to have another life and hopefully there's a lineage there that otherwise may never have happened.

And she's been Exposed to all of all of my crazy life. She's been at everything from the moment she was in a a little portable cot to coming to things. At one time she went to book week dressed as Malala and had to explain to people that, Oh no, I'm Malala.

I was shot by the Taliban. At all these kids that are very interested in what that was so, so her idea of life is big and what I've spoken to her about as she's grown older, she's 10 now is that this young man this 19 year old suicide bomber he's showing us the power of choice.

And that if ever we're [00:40:00] feeling powerless, so we spoke of this just before, Richard, I think that some choice is something that can never be taken away from us. We can choose how to react. We can choose how to respond. We can choose our own position in something. And I always said to her be, gather your wisdom around choice whatever you do, really gather your wisdom around choice because this person made a choice.

with deliberate detrimental outcomes. And I said, but he's not here to see what his choice led to. And so just gather the wisdom. So that's all I ever talked to her about of don't begrudge any experience, be it good, be it bad, because. All of it is gathering and gathering your wisdom to make informed choices as you go through life.

Richard Gerver: I can't, honestly, as we come to the end of this podcast, Gill, I can't think of a better [00:41:00] summation of ideologically for me, what education is actually about. You've, to me, you've just defined education, not just in terms of its process, but its purpose and why. Every human being on planet Earth, it should be a human right that every child, anywhere on our planet, gets the opportunity to have an education and that the biggest lesson they learn is that whatever the experience, if you draw the constructive and you say, What have I learned from this?

And how does this change my view of myself and the world? Then I think, I honestly, I can't thank you enough. Two, just two final questions. The first is, if you had a wish for the future, either small or big, right? Imagine we're recording this also coming up to Christmas, so I am the lamp the genie's gonna come out, right?

But I'm only, because I, these days there's [00:42:00] cutbacks. You get one wish for the future. What would it be, Gill?

Gill Hicks: That we get to have one. Oh, wow. Yeah. Wow. And I'd extend the wish a bit if I could. Not only will we get to have one but the future, I'd love to see as a real understanding.

And I think COVID gave us this. COVID was a global moment. for all humanity to say, Oh, we can suddenly all share in something. We're all facing the same thing and so we managed to navigate that in all different personal ways, but we managed, we're here, we're on the other side.

So I think it's shown us. That our future is a collective and we've got to work on it collectively. It needs to be the human project. So what we want it to look like, how do we want to live? If we don't want any wars, then let's just not have any wars. So, so what does that mean? And how do we, what are all the, what are all the [00:43:00] elements of conflict?

What are all the elements that create? Terrorism. What are all the elements that indeed deprive children of education? So how do we build a collective future that actually enables people to learn, enables people to live in peace and for us to say how do we preserve the earth so that we can continue having a future and a future where we can live and not not have extreme climates where we are starved of food and resources.

So, so. Firstly, yes, that we get to have one. And secondly, that we smarten up realize our own brilliance as this incredible species and work together start to think of ourselves as a collective rather than different parts.

Richard Gerver: Wow. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Inspirational. Genuinely. So look if people have been inspired by your conversation, our conversation today, how can they [00:44:00] connect with you and how can they find out more about you and your work?

Gill Hicks: So my I have lots of iterations of being mad, which is my current acronym is music art

So, I can be found at Music Art Discussion or one and that's my little sort of nod at being completely mad bonkers. I love

Richard Gerver: it. I absolutely love it. And Gill, honestly, I knew when we first started today, I was going to be inspired, challenged and my goodness me, you're an extraordinary human being.

And I just hope the people that have been listening to us today will have taken a huge amount from this. And if nothing else, that, that idea of. always being committed to wisdom is the biggest takeaway for me. So, Gill Hicks, thank you so, so much. And thank you all so much for joining [00:45:00] us today.

And if you'd like to find out more, please check out my website, richardgerver. com and subscribe to this podcast so that you don't miss any future episodes. But until next time, here's to the future.

Creators and Guests

Richard Gerver
Richard Gerver
Speaker & author, President of @uksla, LinkedIn Instructor; passionate about #HumanPotential, #leadership, #change, #education & the search for #simple
Gill Hicks AM MBE
Gill Hicks AM MBE
passionate about communicating the power of our shared Humanity through the mediums of Music, Art and Discussion - I DESIGN the HOW to communicate the WHY!
Gill Hicks AM MBE — Motivational Speaker for Peace, Artist, Performer, and Survivor of the 2005 London Bombings