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Jon Lawrence

Jon Lawrence

The writer, musician and adventurer who travelled five deserts to deal with depression explains how creativity and taking chances can enable us to help, heal and reveal.

Multi-talented Jon Lawrence is a writer, musician, composer, film producer, playwright, teacher and managing director of his own production company. Born in South Wales but now living in Norfolk, he has released a number of albums, and as a published author has written four novels, four novellas, three full-length plays, a dozen musicals for school children and hundreds of poems and sets of lyrics.

Jon is also an adventurer. In 2018 he trekked five-hundred kilometres on five deserts on five different continents to grief his father, deal with his depression and raise thousands for a cancer charity. His remarkable journey was documented in the book Good Grief: Five Deserts in Search of My Father and I, which was accompanied by a UK tour of theatres and private audiences. Jon has recently produced a play for the London stage which will open next year and released a short film The Beachcombers, featuring Emilia Fox, which is making waves on the film festival circuit. He wrote the music for an award winning play at the National Theatre and has worked with great producers in film, TV and radio.

Jon delivers two talks which can be tailored for all ages;

Good Grief: Five Deserts in Search of My Father and I. In 2018 undertook a series of treks over five deserts on five continents, totalling 500 kilometres, to grieve the death of his father, deal with depression and to raise money for a cancer charity. Good Grief is a story of determination, revelation and understanding. Along the way Jon discusses his difficult relationship with his father and how time and space helped him come to terms with his loss, and how seeing the world from a different perspective made him see his own life and mental health differently. Join Jon for tales of altitude sickness in the Atacama, finding human skeletons in the Sahara, encounters with wildlife in the Wadi Rum, personal moments of revelations in the Rangipo and dealing with depression in the middle of the Mojave… Oh and there is a Japanese astronaut in there too! The talk includes photos, film and original music. Good Grief aims to help young people understand mental illness by exploring what it is to have depression, why it is nothing to ashamed of, and how we can deal with it. The talk also promotes the idea of taking chances and finding adventures. “When all you see is an ocean of sand, you start to look inwards.”

The Spark That Sets You Free: Creativity – The key to happiness. In this talk, Jon talks about his life as a writer, musician and producer and how it has helped him to deal with mental health problems (depression). He talks to pupils about how he overcame his poor reading and literacy skills – even failing English Literature A-Level – and his general lack of academic prowess to write four novels, four novella, write plays for the London stage, write short films with famous actors (Martin Shaw, Emilia Fox), have his poetry read by the likes of Maxine Peake, Claire Goose, Steven Berkoff, Hugh Quarshie and James Wilby) and a number of other achievements. The crux of the talk is to encourage pupils to be creative in whatever way they can. Write, regardless of the quality, paint without worrying about talent. Why do we sing in the shower even though we sound awful? Because it is good for our wellbeing, it’s a way to express ourselves. It is something that we can do in private, just for ourselves. The outcome is not important, it is the process that brings us rewards.

Watch Jon in action here.

Testimonials from Teachers

An inspirational speaker. Had the pupils grpped right from the start. Engaging and entertaining, Jon is passionate about creativity and its importance with regard to a happy life. Strongly reccomended!

– Vicki Austen , Head of English, Abberly Hall School

Jon has a wonderful way with children. He manages to create a rapport with them instantly, thanks to his humour and knowledge. He also had an impact on our staff. He was inspirational and his talk sparked lots of additional discussion in the classroom about mental health and creativity. Fantastic.

– Louise Jones , Head, Denver Primary

Jon has great knowledge and appreciation of the world and its cultures. While telling us about his remarkable treks through the deserts, he showed the children instruments from the different parts of the world he had visited. The pupils were hooked on his every word. It wasn't a talk to children, it was a talk WITH children, as he was open to questions and contributions . Thoroughly inspiring.

– Alicia Rickard , Teacher, Hockwold Primary

Speaker File




  • Primary
  • Creative
  • New Speakers
  • Well-being
  • Music
  • Teacher CPD
  • Literacy
  • Media
  • Anti-Bullying
  • Mental Health
  • Humanities
  • Adventure
  • Happiness

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