Veteran Speaker to give her last talk

Veteran Speaker to give her last talk

A grandmother of five who had a fear of public speaking is standing down from the lectern after raising £76,000 delivering more than 270 speeches about Mercy Ships.

Retired nurse Frances King, 75, from Lancashire – who worked in the NHS for 48 years – has volunteered onboard the Africa Mercy three times, helping deliver healthcare to the world’s poorest nations.

Here she became increasingly passionate about the work of Mercy Ships as she witnessed first-hand how lives were transformed through free surgery and care as she served as a nurse.

Frances first heard of the charity in the early 2000s from another speaker, and it inspired her to volunteer onboard and eventually become a speaker herself.

The mum of two, who has been married to her husband Michael for 53 years, said: “I was so inspired by this talk that I wanted to give something back as my career had given me such a good life.”

Frances said: “My first time was to Ghana in 2006. I was so moved by what I saw and the work being performed by all on board that I wanted to return again and I did. Next time to Liberia in 2008 and finally to Togo in 2010, after which my nursing registration expired.

“Working on and off the ship I was quite overcome when seeing hundreds waiting to be seen in the heat on their feet for hours, they would sing and smile, never complaining waiting to be seen – not like here in the UK. It was like being part of a large family.”

In 2007, she was asked to do a speech about her experience onboard and the thought terrified her.

Frances said: “I was so scared of talking in front of people! Having never spoken in public in my life, I dreaded the thought when my local Mothers’ Union asked me to share my experiences. It was whilst we were in our caravan on holiday, that Michael persuaded me to do it and he helped in putting a presentation together one evening. I thought I would only do it once!”

But the impact of Frances’ talks was phenomenal, and the donations kept rolling in, so she agreed to do more. Only after 10 talks did she feel slightly more comfortable with public speaking.

Mercy Ships UK Chief Executive Officer Joanne Balaam said: “We are so incredibly grateful for the astounding effort and impact Frances has had on fundraising and spreading the word of Mercy Ships from her first-hand experiences. Every talk that Frances has given has inspired remarkable donations as she travelled over eight counties to deliver them.

“Her talks have helped make a vital difference to countries in West and Central Africa through ensuring surgery to those who need it most and delivering ongoing training and expertise to local medics to guarantee a lasting legacy.”

In April, she will retire from the Mercy Ships speaker network after an incredible 273 presentations.

Mercy Ships Community Partnership Manager Christine Brown said: “If anyone knows of someone who could try to follow in Frances’ spectacular footsteps we would be extremely grateful. If you are an inspiring speaker, or perhaps like Frances you want to take on a new challenge for Mercy Ships, we would love to hear from you!”

If you’re interested in becoming a Mercy Ships speaker, please send us an email. 

Frances’ Top Talk Tips

  1. Speaking from the heart is the key. This can be from the Mercy Ships own resources and/or your own experience/stories. Content should have emotion and there are lots of moving stories to tell!
  2. Content and variety are vital. For example, don’t just use show the slide show without breaking it up a bit. A Mercy Ships video introduction to set the scene and grab their attention helps. Use photos of your own experiences where appropriate.
  3. Don’t talk all the time, let the audience watch for short periods and let them imagine.
  4. Position the screen so everyone can see it well – the larger the better! Make sure equipment does not block the speaker enabling the speaker to face the audience with clarity.
  5. I always ensure everyone can hear and see the screen before I start.
  6. I always invite questions at the end and whilst a donation would be given I do ask in advance to have my Mercy Ships collection bucket placed on a table with leaflets/information.
  7. Have fun and keep smiling!


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