McInroy & Wood Lectures

Since 2018, the McInroy & Wood Lecture has been bringing global issues to the fore, provoking both intelligent debate and standing ovations at the Borders Book Festival. Last year’s lecture took place within the festival online programme, and the topic was equally profound and moving.

The 2021 McInroy & Wood Lecture features author and journalist Joe Shute as he discusses his new book, Forecast: A Diary of the Lost Seasons, a fascinating blend of nature writing and journalism that investigates the history, folklore and mythology associated with the weather.

The 2020 McInroy & Wood Lecture with Martin Bell: War and Peacekeeping

Martin Bell’s experience of war is peerless. As a reporter, he has covered conflicts in no fewer than eighteen war zones. In 1992 television viewers saw exactly how dangerous his work could be. While recording a piece to camera in Sarajevo, Martin was seriously wounded by shrapnel, some of which he still carries around.

He is uniquely qualified to meditate on the cycle of war across the world as conflicts flare in an apparently ceaseless cycle. What can be done? How can this cycle be broken? His book, War and Peacekeeping, reflects on these questions.

Martin also reflects on the decline in the objective quality of news reporting, the rise of bias, the promulgation of lies and what are labelled ‘alternative facts’. His passion and integrity are fabled and War and Peacekeeping has already been hailed as ‘thought-provoking and hard-hitting’, just like the author himself.

Martin talks to Allan Little, another distinguished reporter who has found himself in the chaos of the world’s war zones.

The 2019 McInroy & Wood Lecture with David Nott: War Doctor

This is a remarkable story and one that will move many, even to tears. For more than twenty-five years, David Nott has taken unpaid leave from his job as a general and vascular surgeon with the NHS to volunteer in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones. From Sarajevo under siege in 1993, to clandestine hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, he has carried out life-saving operations and field surgery in the most challenging conditions, and with none of the resources of a major London teaching hospital. Driven both by compassion and passion, the desire to help others and also the thrill of extreme personal danger, he is now acknowledged to be the most experienced trauma surgeon in the world.

But slowly David began to realise that flying into a catastrophe – whether war or natural disaster – was not enough. Local doctors needed to learn how to treat the appalling injuries that war inflicts upon its victims. Since 2015, his foundation has trained other doctors in the art of saving lives threatened by bombs and bullets. War Doctor is his extraordinary story.

The 2018 McInroy & Wood Lecture with Robert Peston

ITV’s political editor and presenter of Peston on Sunday, Robert Peston, talks about the mess facing liberal democracy and what can be done to mend the terrible fractures in our society. He looks at what must happen to prevent democracy being subverted by technocratic geniuses with the ability to manipulate social media, what can be done to staunch the widening gap between rich and poor and how to raise living standards for all. Based on his book WTF, this lecture is personal, angry and funny.