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Humanists UK Convention 2018

June 22nd, 2018 5:00 PM   --   June 24th, 2018 4:00 PM


Join us in Newcastle over the weekend of 22–24 June 2018 for the most open, most thrilling, and most entertaining Convention ever.

Our Speakers

Andrew Copson

Andrew Copson is the Chief Executive of Humanists UK, and the President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Jay Foreman

Jay Foreman is a comedy singer-songwriter from London. He was a BBC New Talent Pick of the Fringe, and Runner Up in the 2010 Musical Comedy Awards. In 2010 he sold out his debut solo hour Pretend you're happy at the Edinburgh Fringe, and in 2011 sold out his second solo Edinburgh show We're Living in The Future. He co-wrote and starred in cult online spoof documentaries Unfinished London, which have been viewed over three million times between them.

Michael Irwin

Michael Irwin is a retired GP, who was a Medical Director of the United Nations, in New York (1982–1989). He has campaigned for legalised assisted dying since 1994 – having being Chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (1996–1999 and 2001–2003) and President of the World Federation of the Right-to-Die Societies (2002–2004). He founded the Secular Medical Forum and also the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide, which is now renamed as My Death My Decision; this organisation campaigns for all competent adults, suffering unbearably from severe medical conditions to have the option of a doctor-assisted death. Since 2005, Michael has accompanied five determined, suffering individuals to Switzerland to witness their doctor-assisted suicides.

Laura Lacole

Laura Lacole is a Northern Irish model and media personality. She is also a humanist campaigner and regularly speaks out on topics such as legal humanist marriage, freedom of expression, the promotion of science, and women’s rights. Acutely aware of the relative lack of women expressing their sexuality in Northern Ireland media, she decided to pursue a career in modelling to change these attitudes, actively challenging outdated views about how women ‘should’ behave and express themselves. 

Her most recent battle, in 2017, saw her and her fiance Eunan take the Northern Ireland Government to court, in a successful attempt to have their humanist marriage legally recognised. As a result, Laura and her husband are the first and currently only couple to have had a legally recognised humanist marriage conducted in Northern Ireland.

Laura was a founding member of Atheist NI, the first atheist organisation in Northern Ireland. She campaigns for greater respect for science and for it to be seen as a more essential part of our lives, recently working with the British Science Association. Laura has appeared as a guest on This Week, Jeremy Vine, Newsnight, Sky News, BBC News, and on many other outlets.


Steven McQuitty

Steven McQuitty is a judicial review barrister with particular expertise in human rights and immigration work. He is representing Laura Lacole and her husband Eunan O’Kane in their legal challenge against the Northern Ireland Government, seeking to bring about legally-recognised humanist marriage. Steven is currently Junior Counsel for the petitioner in X’s Petition, the first legal challenge to be brought in Northern Ireland by a gay man seeking to have his same-sex marriage (conducted in England) recognised as a marriage under the law of Northern Ireland. Steven has a particular interest in public interest litigation, AND has experience of public interest cases involving integrated education, LGBT rights, and the rights of sex workers in Northern Ireland.


Catherine Nixey

Catherine Nixey is a classicist and historian. For her recent book The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical world, she was presented the Royal Society of Literature's 2015 Jerwood Award. The Darkening Age tells the 'the largely unknown story of how a militant religion deliberately attacked and suppressed the teachings of the Classical world, ushering in centuries of unquestioning adherence to "one true faith"'. She studied Classics at Cambridge, and subsequently worked as a Classics teacher for several years, before becoming a journalist on the arts desk at The Times, where she still works.

Isabel Russo

Isabel worked as an actress in theatre, film, and television for 20 years before becoming a humanist celebrant in 2009. Isabel then worked as a funeral, wedding, and naming celebrant for four years, before taking on Head of Ceremonies at Humanists UK in May 2013. The role of ritual and storytelling in shaping and influencing community has been a central thread throughout her working life.

Adam Rutherford

On radio, Adam is the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship science programme, Inside Science, as well as many documentaries, on the inheritance of intelligence, on MMR and autism, human evolution, astronomy and art, science and cinema, scientific fraud, and the evolution of sex. On TV, Adam presented the award-winning Horizon: Playing God (BBC2, Jan 2012); The Gene Code (BBC4, Apr 2011); and the award-winning The Cell (BBC4, Sept 2009). Adam is a movie geek, and has been scientific advisor to Björk’s movie Biophilia Live, and worked on World War Z, The Secret Service (2014) and Ex Machina (2015). His critically acclaimed first book, Creation – on the origin and future of life – was published in 2013, and was nominated for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize. A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived was published in 2016, and Genetics: A Ladybird Expert Book will be published in June 2018. Adam has a PhD in Genetics, a degree in evolutionary biology, is an honorary Research Fellow at UCL, and is a former Editor at the journal Nature.

Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Francesca Stavrakopoulou is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter. A leading expert in religion’s interpretations of the past and influence on modern attitudes, Francesca’s research is primarily focused on ancient Israelite and Judahite religions, and portrayals of religious history in the Hebrew Bible. She is also interested in biblical traditions and religious practices most at odds with Western cultural values. Francesca presented a three-part BBC documentary series about the Bible and archaeology, called Bible’s Buried Secrets, in March 2011. She also appears regularly on the BBC’s The Big Questions and Sunday Morning Live, and has discussed biblical scholarship on several national and local radio programmes. Her stimulating talks on the history of religion and religious depictions of female sexuality were highlights of the Humanists UK Annual Convention in 2016 and the 2014 World Humanist Congress in Oxford.

Richy Thompson

Richy Thompson is the Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Humanists UK. He works on issues from across Humanists UK's public policy remit. From May 2011 to February 2015 he was the Faith Schools and Education Campaigns Officer, and before that he was the President of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies. Richy is the Treasurer of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, a member of the advisory group of the Sex Education Forum, and on the steering groups of Voice for Choice, the Accord Coalition for inclusive education and the Fair Admissions Campaign.

Tim Whitmarsh

Tim Whitmarsh is a classicist and joined the University of Cambridge as the second Leventis Professor of Greek Culture in October 2014, after holding professorial posts in Oxford and Exeter. He works on all areas of Greek literature and culture, specialising particularly in the world of Greeks under the Roman Empire. He is author of the 2015 book Battling the gods: atheism in the ancient world.

With many, many more speakers to be announced in the coming months.


Humanist UK Convention 2018 is once again the most affordable ever, with tickets priced at just £99, and only £49 for students.

All ticket-holders are entitled to attend all sessions of Convention 2018 from Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon. Those wishing to attend the Humanist Professionals Training Conference can do so with a £25 surcharge to a Convention 2018 ticket. Standalone tickets for Humanist Professionals Training Conference are also available for £50. Lunch, teas, and coffees are included in the price.

  General Student
Standard ticket £99 £49
plus lunch £129 £79
plus lunch and Gala Dinner £189 £139
Humanist Professionals Training Conference surcharge £25 £25
Humanist Professionals Training Conference standalone ticket £50 £50


Please note all times listed below are approximate and subject to change.

Start time End time Session Notes
10:30 17:00 Humanist Professionals Training Conference Add-on required



Pub quiz

19:00 21:00 Comedy evening  
21:00 00:00 Welcome drinks  
09:00 17:00 Saturday day sessions  
19:00 00:00 Drinks reception and Gala Dinner

Add-on required

Dress code: come as you are

10:00 14:00

Sunday day sessions


14:00 16:00 Humanists UK AGM  
16:00   Close  

Humanist Professionals Training Conference

Having been pioneered for 2017, the Humanist Professionals Training Conference will be integrated with Humanists UK Convention 2018. Taking place from 11:00 on Friday 22 June, the conference will provide valuable training, CPD, and networking opportunities for all humanist professionals – celebrants, pastoral carers, school speakers – and those aspiring to become one. Humanists UK Convention ticket-holders may attend the Humanist Professionals Training Conference for a £25 surcharge, by selecting the add-on when purchasing their ticket. Standalone tickets for the Humanist Professionals Training Conference are available for £50.

Please note there are only a limited number of tickets available for the Humanist Professionals Training Conference, and that they will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. More details will be provided at a later date.

Our venue

Our home for the weekend is the vibrant and friendly city of Newcastle. Convention 2018 will be taking place in the Northumbria University Students Union. The space is incredibly flexible, allowing us to offer a great choice of sessions to attend, whilst keeping the Convention close and intimate in the one building.


We have worked with NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau to provide this accommodation portal, allowing you to easily book recommended hotels for Convention 2018.

Please note accommodation is not included in your ticket and Humanists UK cannot assist in recommending hotels or in making any hotel bookings.

When deciding on when to book accommodation, please bear in mind there are two other large events taking place in Newcastle the weekend of Convention 2018, and so hotels may be busier than usual, and rooms may increase in price as the date approaches.

Please read the Humanists UK Convention 2018 event policies, including regarding tickets, cancellations, and recording on the day.

Humanists UK Convention ticket type:
Student ticket: £ 49.00
General ticket: £ 99.00
Food options:
Lunch: £ 30.00
Lunch and gala dinner: £ 90.00
Humanist Professionals Training Conference:
Humanist Professionals Conference (Convention add-on): £ 25.00
Humanist Professionals Conference (Standalone ticket): £ 50.00


Northumbria Students Union
2 Sandyford Road
Newcastle, NE1 8SB
United Kingdom

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