Colin-van Geffen

Location: New Forest, Hampshire
About Colin van Geffen...

I have been presenting Illustrated Talks since 1988 – originally locally for charity but now as part of my self-employed work – I am an artist / illustrator but in these continuing difficult times people have less disposable cash and seek more interesting ‘entertainment’. I am happy to offer my growing list of titles to groups of any size, where-ever they may be located. As a local historian & aviation enthusiast living in the New Forest, I am surrounded by a rich backdrop of historical opportunities. I research and write all of my presentations and presentation of the facts is my priority, sometimes exploding myths but always offering an informative, interesting and educational presentation. I have given talks to U3A, WI, Probus, , RAeS, 41Club, local history societies, community groups and many other organisations across England as well as on board a number of cruise ships.

About my talks...

All of my Illustrated Talks are aimed at ‘family audiences’ so are not too technical, but examine subjects which are in the public consciousness whilst focussing on some of the less-well-known facts. All of those on the list are PowerPoint: I have all the equipment I need (although I am always delighted if groups have their own screen / suitable blank wall, as this saves me a lot of extra effort). I prefer to use my own laptop, but always carry my talks on a flash-drive where organisations prefer to offer their own equipment (although I have encountered technical or compatibility probs on more than one occasion).
Most of my titles are prepared in ‘short’ (40-50 mins) ‘medium’ (55-65 mins) or ‘long’ (70 – 80 mins)  to suit groups’ requirements, and breaks can be included if required. I am always happy to take questions at the end.


My fee is £85.00 plus mileage at cost. I am prepared to be flexible for smaller groups with an ‘introductory fee’ (within reason).

Although based in the New Forest (SO45) I am happy to travel to your venue for additional cost of fuel, plus accommodation if necessary. I have been invited to give Talks in London (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich), RRHT Bristol, University-based groups in  Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton & Guildford; military-based groups in Shrivenham (Wiltshire) and Cranwell (Lincolnshire) and many other small, medium & large groups from Coventry & Rugby to the New Forest. Please feel welcome to ask.

My Contact Details:

02380 897793

07801 817928

The Lady who Saved the Nation

When Lucy Houston died, on 29th December 1936, so ended the life of one of Britain’s wealthiest, most powerful, steadfastly passionate, charismatic, eccentric, militant, forward-thinking political activist, campaigner, publicist, philanthropist, socialite, suffragist and romantic of her time. Yet today she has all but disappeared into obscurity, largely forgotten or unknown by the world she helped to save.

Note from Dianne Mannering – Creator of the Public Speaker’s Corner website:
I gave a talk at Hedge End WI in October 2018 and whilst I was chatting with the Speaker-secretary and another member of the committee one of them said ‘We booked Colin van Geffen through your Public Speakers Corner website, he came in August to do ‘The Lady Who Saved the Nation’ then both of them said in unison ‘He was fantastic!

THE RED ARROWS : Selection & Training

‘THE RED ARROWS : Selection & Training’ looks at the introduction and development of formation and display flying, then focuses on the selection and training of the pilots of the Red Arrows

‘The Red Arrows’ Behind the Scenes

‘THE RED ARROWS : Behind the Scenes’  takes a look at some of the additional activities carried out by the pilots and ground crews (the Blues), including an unusual experience of an ’In Season Practice’.

This talk is best suited to a room / hall with built-in sound facilities.

The FLYING BOATS of Southampton (Ships of the Sky)

The FLYING BOATS of Southampton (Ships of the Sky) recalls the Golden Years of the commercial flying boat era, when Southampton and its Empire flying boats led the world. From the beginnings in 1913 to the swansong in the 50s and later

The Story of the Schneider Air Races

‘The Story of the Schneider Air Races’ covers the history of the Schneider Trophy from its inception in 1912, to the last race in 1931 and beyond….. A time when Britain led the world in aviation design and technology, and took pride in its achievements.

Schneider Trophy to Spitfire : the struggles for success

A closer look at some of the key figures and participants, their successes and failures alongside contemporary and world events & developments within the Supermarine Aviation Company leading to the birth of the Spitfire.

‘Calshot : a place in time’

‘Calshot : a place in time’ examines the history of Calshot Castle and the Spit, from Saxon times to the present including its use by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coastguard in peacetime and at war. Pirates, smugglers, ship-wrecks, submarines and much more… Do you think you know about Calshot? You’ll be surprised!!

‘Calshot : the flying years’

‘Calshot : the flying years’ – a look at the history of one of Britain’s few military flying-boat bases. How many different aircraft types do you think might have been seen here? Most people are surprised by the answer when they see the evidence.

Strange Planes

We’ve all seen some of the modern wonders of aviation – but nothing is new in the world of flight and some things are very strange indeed…….


An examination of the world’s best-known fighter from World War 2, looking at its origins, production, manufacturing problems and development, set against the Blitz in Southampton and the Battle of Britain. This talk also examine some of the myths that surround RJ Mitchell’s masterpiece and replaces them with the facts.

BEACHCOMBER : the Secret Sunderland

Over 760 Sunderland long-range patrol flying boats were built – fewer than 10 survive world-wide, and Beachcomber’s amazing story of survival against the odds holds many surprises

LAWRENCE : 'before & after Arabia'

The Legend of Lawrence of Arabia is well documented in books and film, but what of his life before and after the Desert War?. Described as one of the most influential Englishmen of the 20th Century – but he wasn’t English! There are many myths, but the truth is far more fascinating. A man of many lives . . .

Airfields of the New Forest

 An overview of the military and civil airfields of the New Forest from the early years of the 20th century and coming up to date. Includes many different aircraft types and flying units from the RFC, RNAS, RAF and Commonwealth squadrons, and USAAF.

Sign of the Times’ (1, 2, 3 or 4)

Sign of the Times’ (1, 2, 3 or 4) is a series of Talks taking amusing looks at things around us in everyday life. Offering a little ‘educational interest’ and lots of amusement looking at accidental, as well as intentional curiosities, and some everyday things we ‘see’ but don’t notice….

‘The Census: did I count?’

‘The Census: did I count?’ is an amusing recollection of my experiences as an enumerator during the 2001 National Census. No slides for this one, but I have some ‘bits and pieces’ to show. Please note this presentation does not require any projection equipment.

CALSHOT : the RNAS Years

CALSHOT : the RNAS Years  takes a closer look at the earliest flying history of this former flying boat station from an initial interest in the use of seaplanes and flying boats by the RNAS; the trials involving air dropping of bombs and torpedoes, and training of aircrews from pilots, navigators, gunners and radio operators, by day and by night. (pic – ‘CALSHOT the RNAS Years)

Nelson & HMS Victory : Their Lives and Times

Nelson & HMS Victory : Their Lives and Times  examines the key events – successes and failures – of two of our best-known historical icons and how their separate stories came together on more than one occasion, culminating in their pyrrhic victories at Trafalgar – and after. (pic – ‘Nelson & HMS Victory title pic)


‘TALKING PICTURES : About My Art’  showcases my range of subjects, styles and working media, from Animals, Architecture, Aviation, Christmas Cards, Greetings Cards, special Occasions, Maritime, Portraits, Pets, Road, Rail, Steam, and more, in Acrylic, Graphite, Pen & Wash or Watercolour. Also featured are some of the corporate commissions and examples of work and projects delivered around the world from Australia to Zambia PLUS a short tutorial on how to ‘create a masterpiece’. (pic – ‘Art of the Matter’)

Colin-van Geffen Contact Details:

02380 897793

07801 817928

Send a message to Colin-van Geffen