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Overwhelming interest in Westwood visit

Staff at the University of Cumbria have been inundated with requests for tickets to see the iconic fashion designer and environmental activist Vivienne Westwood when she speaks at the university’s Ambleside campus next month.

At one point applications for free tickets for the event, called ‘Exploring and Challenging Ideas on Sustainable Leadership, Climate and Social Change’ were coming in at the rate of one a minute.

The designer will be talking about steps she believes everyone can take to help make a difference to life and the future of locations such as the Lake District.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the level of interest in Vivienne’s talk which will take place in the heart of the Lake District,” Caroline Rouncefield, head of business, law, policing and social sciences at the university said. “We hoped the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) would be the ideal place for the talk to take place and hundreds of people seem to agree.”

IFLAS lecturer Jo Chaffer will host the event which will be opened by the University of Cumbria’s Vice Chancellor Prof Julie Mennell.

Extra capacity for the event has had to be created in order to cope with demand.

No more applications for tickets can be accepted by the university and those who have successfully applied will hear news shortly.

The talk will also be recorded and shared via social media to allow it to be enjoyed by those unable to get tickets.

“It’s amazing to see the response – we really have been inundated,” Gill Haigh, director of marketing and recruitment for the University of Cumbria said. “Vivienne is exactly the kind of thought-provoking guest we love to welcome at our university. This is one of a series of flagship events we have coming up in 10 anniversary year.”


Vivienne Westwood was born in 1941 and moved to London 17 years later. She began designing in 1971 along with her then partner, Malcolm McLaren, when London was at the forefront of cultural trends. In 1984 she launched her own fashion line and in 2004 the V&A hosted a Vivienne Westwood retrospective exhibition to celebrate her 34 years in fashion – the largest exhibition ever devoted to a living British fashion designer. In 2006, her contribution to British Fashion was officially recognized when she was appointed Dame of the British Empire by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Vivienne Westwood has always used her collections and catwalk shows as a platform to campaign for positive activism. She has spent many years tirelessly speaking out about the effects of climate change and overconsumption, and has mobilised international attention around ecological crusading. Vivienne compares the dire situation to battle:

“It’s a war for the very existence of the human race. And that of the planet. The most important weapon we have is public opinion: go to art galleries, start to understand the world you live in. You're a freedom fighter as soon as you start doing that.” 

Vivienne is a Trustee of human rights organization Liberty and Patron of Reprieve. She has continually campaigned for the release of Leonard Peltier for many years and is also a campaigner for Amnesty International.

As well as Human rights, Vivienne is passionate about the environment and actively supports the charity, Cool Earth, in their efforts to save the rainforest and stop climate change, as well as supporting the Environmental Justice Foundation and Friends of the Earth- amongst others. Vivienne is also an ambassador for Greenpeace and in 2013 designed their official ‘Save the Artic’ logo and in 2015 launched a global campaign to stop drilling and industrial fishing in the area.

Vivienne has worked with the United Nations, Environmental Protection Agency to re-establish the fragmented forests of Europe, and has also joined forces with the International Trade Centre- a joint body of the UN, since 2011 to produce bags through their Ethical Fashion Initiative. The programme currently supports the work of thousands of women from marginalized African communities and empowers informal manufacturers and craftspeople to enter the international value chain - providing an income for some of the poorest people in the world. The collections are created using recycled materials from slums and land fill and the income helps to stop the need to continue deforestation in the area.

Vivienne inaugurated the 'Climate Revolution' at the 2012 London Paralympics closing ceremony and continues to rally charities, NGO’s and individuals to join forces and to take action against disengaged political leaders and big business.

Vivienne has also written her ideas in a Manifesto called “Active Resistance to Propaganda”. The AR Manifesto evolved through her fashion shows which she uses as a platform for her cultural and environmental concerns.  It is a call to become more cultivated and in doing so gain the strength and wisdom needed to live life well now and to save the planet for the future.  Vivienne’s monthly diary and more information on her concerns, passions and campaigns can be found at


Pictured: University of Cumbria Ambleside campus