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In conversation with Elspeth Beard: St John’s school talks to the intrepid motorcyclist and architect on 1 June

15:09 11/05/2023

Round-the-world solo motorcyclist and award-winning architect Elspeth Beard is the guest of honour at St John's International School in Waterloo on 1 June.

The British personality will appear in the school’s Speaker Series ‘In conversation with’ that’s open to the public and free. It’s described as an “inspiring programme” that invites leading authors to share their stories from around the world.

As the series’ final event in the school year, Elspeth Beard will recount her extraordinary solo adventure and subsequent career as an architect.

In 1982, at the age of 23 and halfway through her architecture studies, Beard left her family and friends in London and set off on a 35,000-mile solo global trip on her 1974 BMW R60/6.

A school spokesperson takes up the story: “With only limited savings from her pub job, a tent, a few clothes and some tools, all packed on the back of her bike, she was determined to prove herself.”

When Beard returned to London nearly two and a half years later, she was many kilos lighter and decades wiser.

Elspeth Beard

“She’d ridden through unforgiving landscapes and countries ravaged by war, witnessed civil uprisings that forced her to fake documents, and fended off biker gangs and corrupt police convinced she was trafficking drugs.”

The motorcyclist had survived life-threatening illnesses, personal loss and brutal accidents that left permanent scars and a black hole in her memory.

In an age before email, the internet, mobile phones, satnavs and, in some parts of the world, readily available and reliable maps, her achievements would still be remarkable today, said the spokesperson.

Beard’s autobiography Lone Rider: The First British Woman to Motorcycle Around the World, recounts her remarkable journey.

She also won acclaim for her restoration and redesign of the historic Munstead Tower in Godalming. In 1994, she won the Royal Institute of British Architects award for South East England and now owns an architectural firm based in a converted stable in the Surrey town.

Although this is a free event, registration is required. More information from:; telephone: 02.352.06.10.

In conversation with Elspeth Beard
1 June, 19.00
Arts Centre Theatre
St John’s International School
146 Drève Richelle

Written by The Bulletin