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Born in 1965 in Bangor, Northern Ireland to Estonian parents, Lembit Öpik is one of the most characterful and recognised politicians of his generation. Having grown up in Belfast, Lembit graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in Philosophy.
In 1988, after some dramatic years in student politics, Lembit joined American multi-national giant Procter & Gamble, where he worked on a number of household brands in the Advertising Department. Then he moved into Human Resources, rising to the role of Global Human Resources Training & Development Manager in 1995. Lembit designed and trained courses on 4 continents, and his courses are used to this day. Recently, he has increased his training work again and is set to launch a nationwide programme for core skills that count in industry and the voluntary sector.
In 1997, Lembit was elected to Parliament as the MP for Montgomeryshire in Wales. Very quickly he began to be recognised as one of the more energetic and entertaining MPs in the country, with regular appearances on everything from Question Time to ‘Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway,’ and most of the major entertainment shows in between.
In April 1998, Lembit was involved in a near fatal paragliding crash, which broke his back in 12 places. Without any immediate help in the vicinity, Lembit had to walk a mile in agony before he was picked up. It was a case of walk or die and he survived with a greater gratitude for life than he's previously had. To this day he considers it an act of grace that he was spared.
In 2010, Lembit lost his seat in one of the most surprising results of the General Election. Despite this blow, 5 hours later he kept his promise to appear on the election special edition of ‘Have I Got News for You’ in what was regarded as one of the strongest performances for any politician on the show. As Lembit said ‘I lost my seat, not my resolve. The show had to go on.’
Since then, contrary to expectations, Lembit has continued to increase his profile and in 2010 appeared on the blockbusting reality show ‘I’m a celebrity – get me out of here!’ This has led to many other appearances, and his celebrity stock seems to have gone from strength to strength. However, he’s also been busy with other more academic endeavours. Following a collaborative book on Estonia, Lembit has also written an academic volume about the Liberal Democrats and the British coalition, scheduled to be published in 2012. He is also completing other books on subjects as diverse as astronomy, training and the nature of consciousness. Few people embrace such an eclectic portfolio of interests to this level of knowledge.
Since 1990, Lembit has made over 900 after dinner speeches. The smallest audience he has addressed was in Middlesborough in 1991, when two peple showed up… eventually. The largest was in Hyde Park – a crowd of 120,000. In 1009, Lembit was the most frequent speaker in the Commons from any constituency in Wales. He’s still involved in politics – attending the SNP conference as well as enjoying good relations with people in UKIP, the Tories and Labour, as well as some in his own party! As recently as December, 2011, he was seen discussing matters with Prime Minister David Cameron in ITV’s This Morning studios.
Lembit’s great talent is to discuss serious and weighty issues, such as politics, science and business, in an utterly engaging and entertaining way. His work as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and as shadow minister for Housing, Youth Issues, Energy and Wales means he is well versed in many fields. But his greatest talent is engaging with people. He cares about his audience and never leaves without having shared insights which really mean something. Parliament’s loss is public speaking’s gain, as anyone who has heard him speak will confirm.
Find out how to book Lembit Opik as the male host speaker for your next event by calling Speak Out on 0131 440 9226 or clicking here.
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