Geoff Holt MBE: Keynote Speaker, After Dinner, Awards, Motivational, Business
#WorldRecords #FacingAdversity #Teamwork #Leadership #Entrepreneur
Geoff Holt is a record-setting yachtsman & inspirational disability business and sports ambassador. A popular winner of the revered Yachtsman of the Year award, Geoff is a memorable, powerful and entertaining speaker with vital messages to share about ability, achieving difficult goals against the odds, inspiring leadership, effective teamwork and building a successful value-centred business. In November 2015, Geoff's entrepreneurial skill as CEO of Wetwheels, a Community Interest Company (CIC) operating fully accessible boats, was recognized in winning the prestigious Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs in the UK.
Geoff entered the history books in 2007 when he sailed solo around Great Britain. Paralysed from the neck down in an accident at the age of 18, Geoff’s achievement was both groundbreaking and courageous. Geoff lives by the mantra of ‘no excuses’ and continues to challenge what seems impossible. Indeed, another world-record was to follow. In 2010, Geoff became the first quadriplegic to sail unassisted across the Atlantic. The 3,000mile journey took four weeks to complete sailing a purpose-built 60ft catamaran ‘Impossible Dream’.
‘What Geoff achieved was quite extraordinary and took an awful amount of courage.’
HRH Princess Anne
Recognition of Geoff’s achievements came swiftly. He was voted BBC South Sports Personality of the Year (2007); short-listed for Yachtsman of the Year (2008); received a British Airways Great Briton Award and the RYA Francis Elkin Award (2009). In June 2010, Geoff was awarded an MBE for services to disabled sailing and then in early 2011, Geoff received the coveted YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year that Geoff considers the ‘Knighthood of Yachting.’ As an entrepreneur commited to ensuring business gives back to the community, Geoff was proud to win the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs in the UK.
Geoff has a very inspirational view of life and the opportunities it holds. His positive outlook is infectious and it comes across strongly in every speaking engagement.
Although sailing is a key thread in Geoff’s life, Geoff’s story is not about sailing. His life demonstrates the power of the human spirit and it captivates audiences every time he tells it. It is journey through life of an amazing man told with passion and humour. He engages audiences by making them feel involved in every step of that journey and he demonstrates, with great sensitivity, our ability to deal with challenges when they present themselves in life. Above all, it is a “feel good” story leaving audiences up-beat and inspired to do something positive within their own lives.
‘Your voyage was nothing short of exceptional, but to me that journey is simply a reflection of you.’
Dame Ellen Macarthur
Geoff's story is highly motivational and feedback consistently demonstrates that Geoff's talks are delivered with humour, thoughtful insights, authenticity and powerful messages. Geoff has faced adversity, challenged perceived limits and he continues to inspire others to maintain a positive attitude no matter what challenges lie ahead - in business, in sport, in life.
What Clients Say
‘My sincere thanks to Geoff for an incredible presentation at our event. His story is truly inspirational and really caught the imagination of the whole room. His drive, spirit and determination had the whole audience mesmerised for the whole session. The talk fitted in very well with the context of the day and please let Geoff know that the feedback was fantastic.’ M&S Money
‘Thank you for delivering a fantastic talk. We have had some excellent feedback from dealers who have been using words such as "epic" and "inspirational" with regard to your talk, so I think we can safely say that it was very well received!’ Suzuki
‘10/10. Lots of positive feedback about Geoff’s speech. Very engaging. Self-effacing. Entertaining and inspiring at the same time and pitched at exactly the right level for the audience. From a personal point of view as the event organiser, Geoff was great to work with and really added something special to the gala dinner.’ The Environment Agency
‘Geoff had the whole audience fully engaged – he was highly professional and motivating and we would recommend him to anyone looking for a fantastic speaker.’ J.P. Morgan
‘Exposing our R&D staff to new ideas and challenging accepted thinking is part of our continuing commitment to be innovation leaders. Your insights and personal story were an inspiration to all who attended.’ Syngenta
‘Your speech was motivating, emotional and inspirational. I have worked for the WI for 4 years and have never seen a standing ovation for a Guest Speaker so please be encouraged that your speech was truly excellent.’ Federation of Women’s Institutes (Hampshire)
‘Excellent. Geoff’s commitment and interest in us and our event helped make it a relaxed, funny and interactive talk. Very down-to-earth, funny, interesting and approachable. Outstanding.’ Mace Group
‘Following on from the feedback survey 97% of respondents rated Geoff as ‘Excellent’ with 3% rating his as ‘Good’. No one rated Geoff below this. Please see below a selection of the quotes/feedback we have received from fellow employees – all of which were overwhelmingly positive!
• Geoff was brilliant - very moving, very admirable and very inspiring.
• Truly inspirational, his positivity & humour kept the audience engaged
• Inspirational & motivational
• Geoff Holt was the main reason I attended the event as I really wanted to hear more about his achievements. I thought he was brilliant, very inspiring and a real pleasure to listen to. He was down to earth and managed to keep all the audience engaged, one of best speakers I have heard in a long time, I was very impressed by him and quite humbled by his determination and honesty.
• Excellent, inspiring, humbling and absolutely worth taking the time to hear his story - when you hear someone present in an engaging and entertaining way on how their spirit and perspective has enabled them to achieve great things with a broken neck, such as navigating around Britain… and changing the lives of many with his example of perseverance and leadership, then you realise your own limiting beliefs or minor complaints need to be cast aside!
• Of the dozens of inspirational speakers on disabilities that I have seen, Geoff is the best,
• Truly excellent speaker. Genuinely inspiring. Simply one of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
• Truly inspirational and authentic.
It was an excellent evening and one that I think will be remember here for years to come.’
‘The conference went well and was hugely enriched by your presence and wonderful presentation. Throughout my (long!) career, I have run many events and had to evaluate them and their impact. Never before have I recorded a 100% ‘excellent’ for the keynote speaker.
‘The place is buzzing today with people sharing their response/feelings to what you had to say. The words ‘Inspirational’ ‘motivating’ ‘emotional’ have been used over and over in the evaluation forms along with comments as to how staff will now respond to the challenges that they face.’
Shropshire NHS PCT
Geoff’s story is highly motivational and told with humour, thoughtful insight and great photographs and film footage. He has faced adversity, challenged limits and continues to inspire others to maintain a positive attitude no matter what the challenges ahead.
Key themes are:
• Courage in tough times
• No excuses
• The right attitude makes high performance possible
• Overcoming adversity & facing a challenge
• Working alone in a hostile environment
• Appreciating the importance of your team
• Embracing diversity
• Taking opportunities
Geoff’s marketing background ensures his business messages are rooted in his experiences both on and off the water – a powerful combination. Feedback from clients across all sectors is consistently positive whether for after dinner (or lunch) talks, personal appearances or conference keynotes.
Geoff is a disability sports ambassador who has inspired countless others. Geoff’s personal philosophy of ‘no excuses’ lies at the heart of his story: motivating others to live life to the full and conquer challenges no matter what they may be. He hopes that his voyages will inspire others to push their own personal boundaries.
Geoff Holt had already accomplished much by the time he was eighteen years old. Geoff had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean three times, completed several solo voyages and sailed over 30,000 nautical miles. And then his life changed. All hopes, dreams and expectations of earning his livelihood as a professional yachtsman were destroyed after diving into the Caribbean Sea and breaking his neck. Geoff spent a year in hospital and then, with characteristic spirit, he retrained in a different career and went on to lead the marketing department of an international firm of chartered accountants for 12 years. Geoff later became a qualified auctioneer and valuer (specializing in early European ceramics) but eventually returned to his first love of sailing.
Geoff entered the history books in 2007 when he sailed solo around Great Britain.
In January 2010, Geoff became the first quadriplegic to sail unassisted across the Atlantic. The 3,000mile journey took four weeks to complete sailing a purpose-built 60ft catamaran ‘Impossible Dream’.
Recognition of Geoff’s achievements came swiftly. He was voted BBC South Sports Personality of the Year (2007); short-listed for Yachtsman of the Year (2008); received a British Airways Great Briton Award and the RYA Francis Elkin Award (2009). In June 2010, Geoff was awarded an MBE for services to disabled sailing and then in early 2011, Geoff received the coveted YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year that Geoff considers the ‘Knighthood of Yachting.’ In November 2015, Geoff won the presitigous business award in recognition of his work as founder and CEO of Wetwheels - the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs in the UK.
Geoff is passionate about creating opportunities for others facing their own challenges in life through a long association with the Paralympics and the charity RYA Sailability of which he was the inaugural Chairman and Trustee commencing in 1995.
Geoff represented the UK on the International Disabled Sailing Committee and was Chairman of the RYA’s Paralympic Steering Committee that selected the Gold medal winning team in the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics. He was a member of the current Paralympic Steering Committee who selected athletes for the 2012 Paralympic sailing competition. Geoff is a member of the RYA Council as voted for by the membership and he is also a member of the RYA’s Board. He has competed in sailing events successfully himself too representing Great Britain in Australia and America winning a bronze medal on both occasions. Geoff was also the first person to gain a powerboat licence while using a wheelchair.
Geoff’s autobiography ‘Walking on Water’ was published in 2008 to wide acclaim. He also writes monthly columns in sailing journals and is a presenter on BBC Radio Solent’s H2O Show alongside Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
Most recently Geoff has designed and built Wetwheels, the world’s first wheelchair accessible powerboat so disabled people can have an opportunity to try powerboating. Based at Portsmouth, the 30ft catamaran regularly takes groups of disabled people for rides in the Solent though the Wetwheels Charitable Fund. In June 2012, Wetwheels and Geoff took part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames. Geoff instigated the formation of a new charity, the Disabled Powerboating Trust that funds powerboating opportunities for disabled people and he has become its first Ambassador. Geoff is passionate about “giving back” and supporting community and charitable initiatives where possible. He is also Patron of Southern Spinal Injuries Trust; Rose Road Association; Lymington Sailability; New Forest Sailability; Cowes Sailability and Le Tournoi (Jersey).
The WetWheels Foundation was founded by Geoff Holt.
Each WetWheels is a fully-accessible, inclusive-designed powerboat.
'Life should be more about what we can do, not what we can't.'
Accolades from within Sailing
‘It was a tremendous effort and we are all very proud of you. You have set up a great marker for others. Well done.’
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
‘I am really excited about your accomplishment of your personal Everest. Congratulations! You have proved to the world, in true British style, that sailing is a sport open to all.’
'Geoff was our most popular winner of the YOTY trophy, ever'.
Chairman of the YJA and judge for the Yachtsman of the Year trophy
‘Just to say a big AWESOME!!’
Dame Ellen Macarther
In the Press
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