Accountants inspired by astronaut Tim Peake’s out-of-this-world talk at their first gathering in two years

May 6, 2022

Bath accountants gathered with colleagues from across the region last night for their professional organisation’s first annual dinner for two years – with guest speaker British astronaut Major Tim Peake sharing inspirational stories about his six months on board the International Space Station.

The event, staged by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) West of England at Aerospace Bristol, was its first since 2019 due to the pandemic. 

It brought together around 400 representatives from the region’s accountancy and professional services sectors and wider business community in the museum, home to the last Concorde to fly.

Speaking from under the Bristol-built supersonic aircraft’s wings, Major Peake, pictured, drew on his experiences in space and the challenges he overcame to get there to inspire the audience.

Looking up at the iconic aircraft’s powerful Rolls-Royce engines, he pointed out that it had flown at Mach 2 – twice the speed of sound.

In contrast, the Russian-built Soyuz rocket that took him and his fellow astronauts into space travelled at Mach 25 – about 10 times that of a speeding bullet and so fast their capsule, which he described as a tin can”, reached the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere in two minutes.

He also spoke about the many years of training he had to undertake as an Army Air Corps officer before he beat 9,000 other hopefuls to get a place on the European Space Agency’s programme. 

Then there was further specialist training to prepare him for life aboard the space station, including spending 12 days underwater and living in caves.

“It’s a pleasure to visit Aerospace Bristol for the first time and be surrounded by the innovations that have made space flight possible,” he added.

“This setting reminds us how ambition and inspiration allow us to achieve the unexpected – a vision I know ICAEW and the West of England’s financial and professional services sectors share, and champion in the local area.”

ICAEW West of England president Natalie Binstead said: “After two challenging years we’re delighted to have been able to bring the West of England’s business community together at last at this fantastic venue.

“Tim Peake’s speech really chimed with what we’ve been working towards during the past year; diversity and community have been the key themes of my presidency, and so it was great to hear him speak about his experiences.”

Natalie had earlier in the evening been joined on stage by two young people from its charity partner, Grassroot Communities.

Based in South Bristol, the community organisation delivers school, youth and community work projects based on the needs and wants of local people.

Grassroot Communities founder and projects lead Ben Carpenter told the gathering that a lack of opportunities and role models all too often hindered the aspirations of young people from marginalised communities.

“At Grassroot Communities, we have developed the year-long Grassroot Activators Programme (GAP) to prove there is a different way that has the potential to develop future leaders of tomorrow and benefit entire communities, and we need the support from businesses and organisations across Bristol to make it happen.”

Lead sponsors for the evening were advanced engineering group Jacobs and indemnity insurance group Brunel Professions, with additional sponsorship from Aston Martin (Dick Lovett) and Moon Executive Search.


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