WBD hosted its Business Leaders' Dinner this week (7 November) at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth organised in collaboration with Mayflower 400, an initiative to commemorate the 400th anniversary in 2020 of the Mayflower’s historic sailing from Plymouth to America.

Clients and guests of WBD heard from a range of speakers and discussed the opportunities the anniversary brings – to Plymouth and beyond – in areas of education, business, tourism and transatlantic and international relations as the UK looks to redefine its position in the world. 

The event was the first in the Mayflower 400 speaker series which explore the key themes of the Mayflower 400 commemoration. Debra Searle, MVO, MBE, who shot to fame after rowing the Atlantic solo, headlined the dinner and told the story of her amazing and gruelling three months journey across the ocean, which is reminiscent of the momentous voyage of the Mayflower ship. 

Debra, who was born and bred in Plymouth, gave an inspiring tale of her journey, describing her adventure with passion and nostalgia and recounting how she battled against hurricanes, exhaustion, loneliness and fear. She explained how her solo journey, which lasted 111 days at sea, taught her a great deal about the importance of attitude, mind-set and how mental strength can take you so much further than what you ever thought possible. 

Also speaking at the event was Charles Hackett, CEO of Mayflower 400. He explained how the anniversary is of historical significance and provides a special opportunity to inspire people across nations and across generations, with the stories of that iconic voyage that underpins the key themes of migration, tolerance, freedom and democracy. 

The audience also heard from Melinda Davis Lux, Partner and Head of Manufacturing at WBD in the US. Originally from a small town near Plymouth, Massachusetts, Melinda provided a new perspective on the Mayflower commemoration, one from the other side of the pond. 

Partner and Head of WBD's Plymouth office, Craig Moore, gave the opening speech at the event. He commented:

"We had a fantastic evening with guests and clients at the National Marine Aquarium, a really superb venue and the largest aquarium in the UK. As national supporters of the Mayflower 400, we were delighted to host the inaugural event in the speaker series, with Debra offering us all an enthralling account of her journey across the Atlantic, which left us all feeling moved and inspired.

We're proud to be involved in the Mayflower commemoration. The iconic ship is an integral part of our city’s heritage and recognition of a voyage that shaped the history of the world. The anniversary is a reminder of Plymouth’s strong ties with North America, something that we are passionate about as a transatlantic firm. 400 years ago The Mayflower sailed from Plymouth where we have a large office and landed in Boston where we opened in the US last year, so it couldn’t be more appropriate for us to be supporting this excellent initiative celebrating the ties between the US and the UK.

The dinner presented the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate our first year as WBD, which enables us to increase our intellectual capital and innovate more readily. WBD provides our regional market with a unique geographical footprint, expanded capability and greater commercial opportunities that help showcase Plymouth on the transatlantic stage."