SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED: The full list of special guest speakers for Being Well Festival 2019

Including Simon Thomas, Steve Bland (pictured), Lauren Mahon, Satnam Rana, Toral Shah, Holly Matthews and Deborah Mitchell, with more to be announced!


Simon Thomas

Former Blue Peter and Sky Sports presenter Simon’s moving memoirs, ‘Love Interrupted: Navigating Grief One Day At A Time’, in which he shares the grief he and his nine-year-old son Ethan suffered after Gemma’s death, have recently been published.

Gemma died in November 2017 aged just 40, after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

Simon said: “I am looking forward to being part of the first Being Well Festival which aims to help people achieve better health and wellbeing. I have spoken openly about dealing with grief and coping with the death of my wife Gemma, as I hope that by sharing my experiences it may help others.”


Steve Bland

Steve Bland, ex-radio producer and husband of You, Me and the Big C’s Rachael Bland, has been announced as a speaker at Being Well Festival.

Steve Bland was a producer on BBC Radio 5 Live and in September 2013 married Welsh journalist and presenter, Rachael Bland (nee Hodges). Unfortunately, Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2016 and died just two years later, in September 2018. Steve continues to strengthen Rachael’s legacy; looking after their beautiful son, Freddie, and appearing on TV and radio to talk about cancer, its emotional heartbreak, and the impact his wife had during her time.

Whilst alive, Rachael started the BBC podcast ‘You, Me and the Big C’ to raise awareness of cancer; discussing the disease with celebrities and providing advice of how to manage it. The podcast featured fellow cancer patients Deborah James and Lauren Mahon and became popular for its discussion of cancer, with medical experts regularly appearing on the programme.


Lauren Mahon

Lauren Mahon is one of the hosts of ‘You, Me and the Big C’ with Deborah James and Steve Bland – husband of the show’s creator Rachael, who died last September from incurable breast cancer.

Lauren has been in remission from breast cancer for two years after being diagnosed when she was aged just 31 despite there being no family history of the disease.

Lauren said: "I believe the conversation around cancer is still very much taboo. While we have started to break that down by more women self-examining and being conscious of their body so they know what is normal for them, being diagnosed with cancer early is the best form of defence."


Satnam Rana

BBC Midlands today presenter Satnam Rana will join us at Being Well Festival to share her own breast cancer journey.

Born and bred in Wolverhampton, Satnam Rana has been with the BBC since graduating back in 1999. She joined Five Live before heading to BBC Birmingham, where she has been working since 2002; making her way from a junior reporter to arts and culture correspondent.

Back in 2017, aged just 40, Satnam revealed that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and documented her treatment and emotional journey in a bid to help others. She was supported by Breast Cancer Haven in Solihull and, has since, launched a #checkthemout social media campaign to urge people to contact their doctor if they detect any abnormalities in their breasts.


Toral Shah

Toral Shah is a scientist and chef, with a BSc in Cell Biology from UCL and an MSc in Nutritional Medicine from University of Surrey.

Having originally wanted to be an oncologist, she then studied her MSc thesis focussing on the importance of diet and nutrition in the prevention of breast cancer recurrence. Her self-confessed obsession with cancer saw her win a prestigious six-month studentship from the Royal Society researching oncogenes at UCL, and caring for her mum – who was diagnosed with breast cancer – suddenly gave her the hands on experience that she never expected. Nurturing her mum through treatment, Toral encouraged her to eat lots of the food that had been epidemiologically shown to help reduce her risk of recurrence of breast cancer and its metastasis. Food became a huge passion, and Toral studied at Le Cordon Bleu during the evenings and holidays.

However, Toral’s world was turned upside down again when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of just 29. A difficult journey through treatment then saw her come out fighting, completing the London Triathlon Olympic distance for the first time in 2007 in between various surgical treatments including her mastectomy. She is passionate about supporting charities and is an ambassador for Breast Cancer Haven.


Holly Matthews

Holly’s life changed forever when her husband Ross passed away following three and a half years with brain cancer.

Holly Matthews began acting at 11 years old when she joined the Byker Grove team as the character Emma Miller, who she played for seven years. Since then she has starred in the likes of Waterloo Road, Casualty, Doctor’s, Criminal Justice, and The Bill. She even had a deal with Sony, releasing a single ‘Little Miss Perfect’ under the name Summer Matthews.

She married her soulmate, Ross – son of ex-Aston Villa and Coventry City footballer Andy Blair and they had two beautiful daughters together. However, in July 2017 Holly’s life changed forever when Ross passed away following three and a half years with brain cancer.

Having always been passionate about helping people see their own potential, she founded The Happy Me Project – a series of online courses and live workshops – and has written two Amazon best-sellers. She’s an award-winning vlogger and her YouTube channel currently boasts over 1.9 million views.


Deborah Mitchell

The winner of more than 25 Stevie Awards and patent owner of Bee Venom ‘Abeetoxin®’ products, formulated for any skin type, Deborah has created products that offer the potent power of nature in perfect harmony with the latest breakthroughs in beauty technology.

Deborah Mitchell began her career as a beauty therapist, creating her own all-natural organic product range to accompany her beauty treatments over 25 years ago. From its roots in local business, Heaven is now a worldwide success, with products and treatments available nationwide and around the world in Hong Kong, South Africa, Australia, Dubai and America to name but a few.

Throughout the years, Heaven’s award-winning skincare has amassed a celebrity following for its range of products and treatments, including Dannii Minogue, Emilia Fox, Michelle Pfeiffer and even royalty who love the products and treatments. Now the winner of more than 25 Stevie Awards and patent owner of Bee Venom ‘Abeetoxin®’ products, formulated for any skin type, Deborah has created products that offer the potent power of nature in perfect harmony with the latest breakthroughs in beauty technology.

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