Sandy Leong - Speaker

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing to life the sort of history that doesn’t normally get into mainstream history books and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She specializes in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets.

She is a professional speaker, and published author, married to a Malaysian, spending time living and working in the UK & Malaysia. She has had a lifelong career as an educator and developer of people; she is a qualified teacher, past CEO of a Racial Equality Council; Guest Lecturer at Universities and Colleges of Further Education; a regular speaker at conferences; guest speaker with P & O, Fred Olsen and Thomson’s cruise ships; and sought after speaker for U3A’s, WI’s, Historical Societies and other groups.

Other interests include, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for a large Charity and Immediate Past President of Loughborough Speakers Club, and an active member of the National Association of Speakers Clubs, holding the Advanced Speaker Award. She is also a member of a Storytellers group, performing locally.

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Talks
Speaking off coast of Brazil

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The Tudors 

Introducing the Tudors with Nursery Rhymes 
Nursery rhymes, a traditional poem or song for children, or political parody? Many were written during the Tudor times and give us an insight to what was in the minds of the ordinary people. Come and meet the Tudors via the medium of nursery rhymes. 

Henry VIII – the Highs & Lows  
A charismatic young man comes to the throne but leaves it a tyrant. Best remembered for his six marriages, what else did Henry do in his reign? He ran a splendid court, built a navy, invaded France, quashed Scotland and also held the first European ‘summit’ meeting at great expense.

Elizabeth I – Ultimate PR & Pragmatism? 
Elizabeth’s long reign is always marked as a success. As a women she had to be particularly astute to hold on to her power and enforce her will. She was a great image maker and probably invented PR. The age of exploration began in her reign and the setting up of the East India Company. She was one clever lady! 

Spicing up a Tudor Life 
England caught up with Spain and Portugal’s quest for exotic spices and land during the reign of Elizabeth I, although Henry VII had been interested his son Henry VIII wasn’t. Edward VI wasn’t around very long and Mary I was involved in her struggles at home. But during Elizabeth’s reign England started to become a power to be reckoned with.

What the Tudor’s Did for Us 
During Tudor times a new way of thinking was created; Henry VIII redefined the Church; the printing press brought a revolution in mass communication; the foundations of modern science were being laid; better maps being drawn aiding the navigation of ships to new lands. By the time Elizabeth I died people were exploring and settling in new lands and all manner of new things had reached England.

Lady Jane Grey – the Forgotten Tudor 
In Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, stands the ruins of Bradgate Manor, the birthplace & home of Lady Jane Grey, born into the Tudor family and dubbed the Nine Day Queen. This is a story of a girl with outstanding natural ability, whose strength of character & remarkable faith shine out, despite the darkness that often surrounded her. She paid the ultimate price for a throne she didn’t seek.

Witches in Tudor Times 
Behind the stereotypical image of the witch flying on a broomstick wearing a back pointy hat lies a long history of trials, persecution & torture that claimed the lives of hundreds of women & men. The first English Statute was brought in by Henry VIII in 1542 when no one was safe from the accusation of witchcraft that took hold in Tudor times.

 The Viking Collection 

From the Fury of the Norsemen Deliver Us  
For 300 years the Vikings took the northern world by storm. In search of land, slaves, gold and silver, brave warriors and explorers set sail from Scandinavia. The speed and daring of the Vikings was legendary and Christian monks wrote with horror about violent raids on monasteries and towns. Come and find out about when the Vikings came to the England and what they got up to. The Viking story is one of raiding, trading, exploring and settling.

Bitter is the Wind Tonight 
This is the first line of an old Irish poem hoping that the wind is too strong for a Viking attack… it probably sums up the hopes of others living on the islands around the British coast. However it wasn’t all about raiding it was also about trading and settling. Dublin was founded as a Viking centre for trade, and Orkney, Shetland and the Isle of Man became desirable real estate for Vikings.

Beyond the Edge of the World 
The Vikings were great sailors and reached far flung places. They reached Iceland and settled there; they did the same in Greenland and even travelled to the east coast of America, naming it Vinland, beating Columbus by about 500 years. The famous Vikings Eric the Red and Leif the Lucky feature in these tales of adventure.

The Power of Word Fame - The Viking Way of Life 
The Vikings have a reputation for their violent raids upon other countries, but is this the full picture?  Viking life was harsh, men were expected to be tough and the best way to die, was young and in battle. Come and find out who the Vikings really were and how they lived.

Valhalla – The Ultimate Destination 
Viking Mythology gives us an insight into what the pagan Vikings believed. They are supremely beautiful and explain in a way that only people living in such a dramatic wilderness of contrasts could conceive of how we came to be. The Viking gods were subject to Fate represented by the Norns and were doomed to eventual destruction at Ragnorok, the final battle.

Histories of Stuff We Couldn’t Do Without 

A Nice Cup of Tea - A  Potted History of Tea. 
The British answer to any problem or crisis is often a cup of tea! If you have had a shock or an upset someone will make you a nice cup of tea. But how did the British love affair with tea start? It is a fascinating tale of adventure, taxes, criminality, temperance, rationing and a morale booster in World War 1 and 2 and of a Duchess who established the ritual of afternoon tea.

The Great Tea Robbery 
Perhaps the greatest theft of trade secrets in the history of mankind. Robert Fortune, a young Scotsman went to China to steal their secrets of tea. Travelling disguised as a Chinese merchant by the name of Sing Wa, he went where no westerner had been before, into the interior of China. An amazing tale of 19th Century industrial espionage to bring the best tea to Britain. 

Mocha, Latte & the Wine of Araby – A Short History of our Love Affair with Coffee 
In the 17th century it was believed that coffee had medicinal properties; Pope Clement in 1600 gave his permission for Catholics to drink it; the first Coffee House opened in England in the mid 1600’s.;  Our love affair with the coffee bean goes back several centuries, before becoming a popular drink on the high street.

The Golden Age of Coffee Houses   
Coffee Houses in the 17th and 18th centuries played a central role in life in the cities; they were where men met to discuss the new ideas of the time and conduct business with wits sharpened by caffeine instead of being dulled by alcohol. Coffee Houses served coffee, chocolate and tea, provided their customers with newspapers and were where many of our national institutions began. It is said that they fueled the Enlightenment.

Food of the Gods – When Chocolate was Worth More than Silver   
The Aztecs believed that cocoa seeds were a gift from the god of wisdom. The Spanish took the bean back to Spain in 1528 and kept its’ source a secret. But 1520 chocolate arrived in England and the first Chocolate House opened in 1657. The Quakers were instrumental in making it popular, the Swiss refined it; and now we can’t seem to do without it! The God of wisdom gave us chocolate – I’m not sure if it was a wise move!

All for the Love of Sugar  
Sugar influenced the slave trade and was used as a medicine; it was a luxury for the rich and now has the reputation as a comfort food and many people crave it. Elizabeth I was so fond of it her teeth turned black. Few foodstuffs have had such an impact on human beings as sugar.

Spicing Up Our Lives – A History of our Passion for Spices 
Spices have been important to mankind for a long time, they have been used for culinary purposes, as preservatives and as medicine. At times they served as a currency - you could pay your rent in peppercorns; the quest for them caused wars and made men fortunes.

Quirky History – Origins of… 

Hey Diddle Diddle – History & Meaning of Nursery Rhymes 
Passed on down through the generations from parents to children, nursery rhymes have been part of our childhood. Many are veiled commentaries on political events and people in power, using subtle references and clever word play. Some nursery rhymes have it all, like a good film, royal scandal, illicit love affairs and bloodshed. 

Mad as a Hatter – Origins & Meanings of Sayings 
Some people could say that I’m as mad as a hatter because I’m fascinated by the origins of the sayings we use in everyday conversation. There are more sayings than you can shake a stick at.  For any doubting Thomas' out there I'll let the cat out of the bag and pull out all the stops to entertain you, with stories of how the sayings we use all the time, came about.

Black Cats, New Moons & Ladders - The Origins of Superstitions 
A belief in luck and fate are the key components of superstitions and that they can be controlled by various actions of human beings. Do you throw salt over your shoulder if you spill it? Know that it's good luck if you see two magpies together; wonder if things didn't go as planned because it was Friday 13th and touch wood for good luck? But where did these beliefs originate?

What’s in a Name? – The Origins & Meanings of Surnames 
Your surname links your family across generations and each has a story to tell. It may tell you where your forbears originated from, what their work was or social status or even if they had a distinguishing feature. It was the Normans who insisted we had one and Henry VIII who insisted the fathers surname went on a child’s birth certificate. We use them every day, take them for granted and yet they are one of our most personal and interesting possessions.

Hidden Meanings of Place Names 
The origins of place names gives a fascinating insight into Britain’s past history. Some place names come from the earliest inhabitants of Britain but many are associated with our invaders who have left their mark. Did you know that Nottingham used to be called Snotts Settlement?  Some place names have evolved over the centuries and others have stayed the same and some aren’t what they seem.

The Bishop’s Finger – A History of the Public House 
The British public house started life as a Roman Wine Bar and dates back over 2000 years. Ale was central to the Anglo Saxon sense of community, the place to get drink often marked by using a bush as a sign; by 1577 it is thought that there were 17,000 alehouse, 2000 inns and 400 taverns in England many with really interesting names that are still with us today and can trace back their origins.

Malaya & Singapore 

A Potted History of Malaya & Singapore 
Malaya and Singapore held important strategic advantages from the 1700’s enabling Britain to take part in the trade of spices. They later claimed Malaya & Singapore for the British Crown. This talks takes you through the history of Malaya and Singapore up to the end of World War II.

Francis Light – from Illegitimate Boy to Founder of Penang 
The age of exploration gave men a chance of an interesting life. Francis Light, born in Suffolk rose through the ranks of the British East India Company to become the founder of Penang. An interesting tale of a determined young man. 

Stamford Raffles and Singapore 
Stamford Raffles, a boy with little formal education and humble beginnings but with a thirst for knowledge and an adventurous spirit; he worked for the East India Company as a clerk from a young age before travelling to the East and went on to be the founder of Singapore.

Behind Every Man… Colonial Women in Malaya & Singapore 
The early explorers were mainly men, however some women did travel with their husbands, suffering difficult sea journeys and uncertain living conditions; later on more women went to Malaya & Singapore and colonial society started. These women who are almost invisible in history must have been a special type of woman. 

Making the Map Pink – Malaya & Singapore 
The East India Company set up was in 1600 to aid the quest for trade. At first spices were enough but later on land acquisition became desirable, leading the British to colonise parts of the world; and wherever the British went in the world they left their mark with not only in trade and buildings but with Botanic Gardens and Hill Stations.  

Malaysia & My Chinese Family – from a Western Wife’s Perspective

Living across two cultures is sometimes not easy but it is always interesting. This talk is a mixture of a travelogue and tales of living with a Chinese family highlighting special occasions and just normal life.

 

Stories for Christmas

No matter whether we are young or old or somewhere in the middle we all love a good story. Be entertained with stories especially chosen for the Christmas season. Listen to folktales from Russia and Italy; a true and poignant story of how a well-known Christmas classic song came about and the funny tale of how the tradition of a fairy on top of the Christmas tree started.

Miscellaneous

Malaysia & My Chinese Family – from a Western Wife’s Perspective 
Living across two cultures is sometimes not easy but it is always interesting. This talk is a mixture of a travelogue and tales of living with a Chinese family highlighting special occasions and just normal life.

Stories for Christmas 
No matter whether we are young or old or somewhere in the middle we all love a good story. Be entertained with stories especially chosen for the Christmas season. Listen to folktales from Russia and Italy; a true and poignant story of how a well-known Christmas classic song came about and the funny tale of how the tradition of a fairy on top of the Christmas tree started.

Santa Claus – The Story 
Christmas is celebrated all over the world. A Christian festival that is enjoyed with traditions and stories. But who was St Nicolas; and how did Santa Claus come about; and who developed the story of Santa’s reindeers? Come and listen to the history behind Father Christmas, some Christmas Stories and fictitious and humorous news about possible cuts to Christmas

Sandy Leong  August 2017

LIST OF TALKS (451kb)

Contact Sandy Leong to book a talk for your group / after dinner function

All talks are delivered with a powerpoint illustration.
To book: 
Telephone 07914082109 or email sandyleong1@hotmail.com
Fee: Depends on your location in relation to Loughborough Leicestershire. 
        Please contact with details of dates, which talk you require and your location.



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