Welcome to WoW

The Words on Wonder concept is simple, I interview a host of creatives, magicians and scientists about their work and how they cultivate & share wonder. They are all people who have inspired me in my own work or just made me go “Wow!”

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Alex Staniforth – endurance athlete (#127)

Alex Staniforth is a record-breaking adventurer, endurance athlete, inspirational speaker, author and mental health activist, aged 24 from Chester – now based near the Lake District.
Alex knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity, having experienced the two biggest consecutive disasters in Mount Everest history, including the 2015 Nepal earthquake which trapped him on the mountain for two days. In July 2017 he became the fastest person ever to climb all 100 UK county tops to raise awareness of depression and eating disorders, and winning the Pride of Britain Granada Reports Fundraiser of the Year 2017. In 2019 he founded ‘Mind Over Mountains’ to help others restore mental well-being through outdoor experiences.

Prof. Chris French – paranormal beliefs (#126)

Professor Chris French is the Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a Patron of the British Humanist Association. He has published over 150 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics. His main current area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims. His most recent book is Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience.

Jon Marshall – sideshow illusions (#125)

Jon Marshall is potty about sideshows, for over thirty years he was a friend of the late Jon Gresham, Magician, Fire-eater and Sideshow proprietor. Jon Marshall is the founder of Sideshow Illusions and has led a creative team in restoring and presenting Gresham's shows using their original frontages and props. Jon has worked in theatre all his life, performing magic professionally as a teenager and in 1970 becoming Director of Theatre in Education at Hull Arts Centre and later Director of Humberside Theatre. In 1982 Jon formed Magic Carpet Theatre presenting children's theatre productions and other shows throughout the UK and internationally, they are still touring. Jon is a Member of The Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star and in 2017 was awarded the David Berglas Award for Outstanding Contribution to Magic by the British Magical Society. Jon has been able to combine his passions for magic, sideshows and theatre in many projects, whether training Zombies for the University of Sheffield or presenting Professor Jon's Flea Circus.

Luc Langevin – magician (#124)

Luc is a French Canadian professional illusionist from Montreal. For the last 12 years, he has been performing on Canadian and French TV, and on tour around the province of Quebec and in Europe (mainly in France). He started performing magic full time in 2008 while he was doing his physics Ph.D (in biophotonics). His scientific background plays a big role in the creation and presentation of his routines.

Paul Craven – mind tricks (#123)

Paul is a well-known industry speaker on Behavioural Science – a topic he describes as “understanding how real people make real decisions in the real world”. After three decades in the investment industry, he left Goldman Sachs in 2014 to set up Paul Craven Partners Ltd. to help his clients enhance their communication and sales skills. Outside of work, he is privileged to be a member of the exclusive Magic Circle, thus bringing an extra psychological perspective on how “your mind plays tricks" to his business talks.

Russ Costa – high risk decision making (#122)

Russ Costa is an Associate Professor of Honors & Neuroscience at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he teaches interdisciplinary courses about minds, brains, behavior, data, and science. He studies attention and perception in the cognitive neuroscience laboratory using electroencephalographic (EEG) techniques, and decision-making and risk-taking outside of it using a set of mixed and ever-evolving approaches. He regularly presents to professional and public audiences in the mountain communities of western North America about decision-making in high-risk environments, including in snow and avalanche terrain.

Sibusiso Vilane – Grand Slam explorer (#121)

Sibusiso Vilane was the first black person to complete the Explorers Grand Slam by climbing the 7 summits and reaching both the North and South Pole. He is an inspirational speaker, expedition leader, and marathon runner. Previously he served as Chief Scout of Scouts South Africa. He is married and has 4 children.

Bex Band – The Ordinary Adventurer (#120)

Bex Band is an adventurer, blogger and conservationist. Her adventures include hiking 1000km the length of Israel, kayaking the width of the UK against plastic pollution and kick-scooting the length of the USA. Noticing a real lack of women in the outdoors, she founded Love Her Wild (www.loveherwild.com), a women’s adventure community now with over 10,000 members. She's been named one of the ‘UK’s 30 most inspirational entrepreneurs‘ by Business Leader, has been awarded Legacy Maker on the San Miguel alternative rich list, won the Next Generation Award and was shortlisted for a National Diversity Award.

Nigel Vardy – Mr Frostbite (#119)

Frostbite in Alaska, Appendicitis in Greenland ,Near Drowning in Borneo, Rope Failure in the Kumbu, Reported missing in Annapurna.  Would you go climbing with this man..??? Some people call him brave, some call him mad.  To face the thin air at high altitude takes a bit of both, but to Nigel Vardy, there is nothing like being on a high mountain.  Losing limbs to severe frostbite would put off all but the few, but to Nigel it was the springboard to climb, achieve and conquer. Over the past 30 years he has climbed across the world, set mountaineering records and spoken to schools and businesses across Europe. He continues on life's adventure, forcing new boundaries and new experiences every day of his life... As Nigel says - "I don't want to die in an unused body..."

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