Melanie Gibson-Barton

Location: Dymchurch, Kent
About me...

From being an enjoyable part-time ‘hobby’ the repeat bookings for my talks grew to such an extent that I gave up a stressful job to become a full-time speaker.  I give talks in the mornings, afternoons and evenings.  Over the years I have increased the number of subjects that I offer to reflect my expanding interests.  You can be confident of a high quality presentation.
In October 2016 I was delighted to be the guest speaker at the Annual Council Meeting of the West Sussex Federation of Women’s Institutes.
Many organisations including Women’s Institutes (I’m ‘in the book’), history, retirement, family history, church, horticultural, and social groups such as the U3A, Civil Service, National Trust, Rotary, Probus, Trefoil, ARA, NHS and CSMA have heard and subsequently re-booked me.  I have passed auditions to become a registered public speaker and regularly speak at AGMs and Group meetings.  I give my talks without reading from notes.
My talks cover a wide variety of interests, including Belgian and historical themes.  Rest assured that your audience will feel entertained and informed.

About my talks...

My talks are illustrated with colourful slides using a lap-top and projector, and I bring all my own equipment, including a screen – along with a natty sound system so your audience will hear me – so you can sit back and relax.  An electric wall socket and parking is all I need.
I am delighted to accept bookings in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Essex, London and beyond for a competitive, fully inclusive, fee – I don’t charge per mile – and I can often step in at short notice.

There’s more information about my talks on my website – scroll to the bottom of my talks and click through on the link.


I charge an inclusive fee of £115 within a 20-mile radius of my home which is in Kent. Further afield, I would require a contribution towards travel – but I don’t charge per mile.

For my regular clubs and organisations – I value your loyalty and enjoy meeting audiences I have got to know over the years, so if you are booking me for a return visit and the previous visit was within the last two years, you pay only the fee that you paid previously.

My Contact Details:

07900 637171

Elizabeth Barton – the Maid of Kent - 1506 - 1534

This young visionary of Aldington in Kent was so dangerous to Henry VIII, Ann Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon that she had to be executed.  Hear why in this commissioned talk.  The talk includes the work of artist Lauren McMahan.

The Belgian Royal Family – murder, madness and mayhem?

For a monarchy that has only been in existence since independence in 1830, be assured there’s lots to tell.  Explore, too, their links with the British Royal Family.

“Prima!” said a Belgian audience member in East Grinstead.  “Brilliant!” St Lukes Ladies, Rochester.

The Suffragettes and the Suffragists - Votes for Women

A popular, thought-provoking talk. Originally commissioned for the centenary of Leigh WI.

“Tremendous research and local stories too!”

“Delighted!” – members of Leigh WI

Ostend – more than just fish and flip-flops

Explore the many features of this popular town of sandcastles, sails, royalty, artists, architecture, wars and herring.

The Story of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

A talk commissioned by a London Family History Society keen to inform their visits to CWGC war graves in France and Belgium.  Both well-known and less well-known sites are illustrated described using personal knowledge from extensive field work.

Paaschendaele To Peace? Did the war end in 1918?

An illustrated talk providing an overview of the events of the final months of The Great War and into the 1920s. From the Battle of Passchendaele, the Russian Revolution, the Germans’ Spring Offensive, the arrival of the Americans, the Last Hundred Days, the Armistice in 1918, the rebuilding, the Treaty of Versailles and the aftermath in Germany. Did the war end in 1918 or did it only pause?

‘Really interesting’. ‘Lots to make us think’ Canterbury Cathedral Friends Society

Curious Flanders – off the beaten track

The tiny country of Belgium, and especially Flanders, has lots of quirky sights to offer.  A colourfully illustrated talk to entertain your audience and provide ideas of places to visit in Flanders – including further parks and gardens to enjoy.

Bruges – it’s more than just chocolate!

This talk presents an insider’s view so that even those who know Bruges well will feel inspired to visit again. “Our members are booking their Tunnel crossings already!” reported a delighted host.

“Thank you for your interesting talk, we were very keen to learn about Bruges. Our members were impressed with your talk without notes – something very few speakers seem able to do these days. On behalf of our WI members: thank you very much.”

Wandering in Flanders Fields

This talk brings to life the well-known and certainly the less well known First World War sites in Flanders in a themed way that will appeal to all elements of the audience. “Each time you told us something new you then came again with an entirely different angle. Fantastic”

“It’s great for family history background. Research so often touches on the First World War”. “This will really help us plan our touring holiday.”

“The topic was very well researched, Melanie had good quality photographs and delivered her talk in a meaningful, well-spoken and poignant manner” – Lyminge History Society

Parks and Gardens of Flanders

A wide-ranging talk appealing to garden lovers, walkers and armchair gardeners. “Lots of ideas for our garden society to visit”.  “First Class!”- a member of Sutton-at-Hone Horticultural Society.

Uncovering the Treasures of Bruges

A talk especially designed for audiences interested in the arts.

“This is just to say how good it was to meet you last evening and how much we all appreciated your talk. You spoke so naturally and with an obvious love of somewhere very special. Lots of tempting reasons to visit Bruges! You inspired us with your enthusiasm for the place – “Uncovering the Treasures of Bruges” couldn’t have been a better title.” Wye Arts Association

Favourite Museums and Galleries of Flanders

A wide selection of the very best that Flanders can offer. Lots of ideas of places to visit.

Ten and More Famous Belgians

There’s some surprises in store with this wide ranging talk – and way more than just ten famous Belgians!
“If someone says Belgium to me, I tend to think Art, chocolates and beer, so it was interesting to hear Melanie’s Famous Belgians talk and realise there are many more reasons to be grateful to this country.” – U3A.  “Plenty of ‘well I didn’t know that’ moments!” – Probus

The Life and Times of Edith Cavell

Exploring the story of the British heroine who died in Brussels in 1915.  Presenting the experience of regular visits to Brussels to research the hospitals and homes where Edith worked in her nursing career, as well as the place of her execution – a humbling experience.  The Life and Times of Edith Cavell talk tells her story supported by photographs of existing artefacts of her life.  “Her story needed to be told and you told it!” – Hythe Civic Society.

I have been delighted by the comments of members of Edith’s family and relatives of the key players who have attended the talk.

Wandering on the Somme

A companion talk to my Wandering in Flanders Fields talk, visiting the known and less well-known sites of The Somme.  Be inspired by today’s beautifully restored landscape that witnessed momentous days during the First World War.  The talk contains other sights to see in the beautiful Somme area of France – be assured it’s “way more than the usual mud and trenches”.


Third Reich Sites Today for the Curious Traveler

A wide ranging talk, visiting what remains in the landscape from this regime that affected the lives of millions. The material of the talk is sensitively presented in order to appeal to a wide audience.  Currently booking this talk for Autumn 2016 onwards.

Eva Braun – Victim or Contriver?


Hear the story of the woman who devoted her life to Hitler. The material of the talk is sensitively presented in order to appeal to a wide audience.

“Fascinating” – member of West Pevensey Historical Society, Sussex.

Three women, One Man – Glamour, Wealth and Heartbreak

A thought-provoking talk revealing how the lives of four mystery icons intertwine in their pursuit of wealth, status and power.  Can money ever buy love and happiness?

“I joined the Rotary to hear intelligent, well-researched talks – and you just gave one!”

The History of Morris Dancing – with a chance to try!

Hear about the history of the most English of dances … or is it? A fun talk giving the story of the many different style of Morris to be seen at the Rochester Sweeps Festival, Tenterden Folk Festival and Faversham Hop Festival – and a pub near you !

And so to Ted ... a History of Teddies and Other Bears

A wide-ranging, fun talk of Bear Essentials to appeal to arctophiles and bear lovers!  Be sure to bring your bears along to hear the talk!

Melanie Gibson-Barton Contact Details:

07900 637171

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