Chris Hadfield at Usher Hall

chris-hadfeild-2“Inspiring”.  “Uplifting”.  “Brilliant”.

These were just some of the words used by the 12 staff and pupils to describe our recent trip to The Usher Hall in Edinburgh to hear retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield speak about his experiences in space.

Hadfield’s main message was that we should “dream the impossible.”  He spoke about his own experiences as a child in Canada, idolising famous astronauts, and his determination to become like them.  He told us about the power of imagination and of co-operation, and encouraged us to keep curious about the world around us.

We were treated to a selection of his extraordinary photographs and videos, taken from the International Space Station which he commanded.  These were a poignant reminder about the impact we have on our planet.  He also furnished us with incredible facts about space, about how it feels to take off and land, to float free of gravity, and the great feats of engineering which are required to allow an aircraft to orbit around the earth.  And he told several anecdotes about life on board a multi-national space station.

He ended his talk with music – solo guitar performances of a song he’d written for all Canadian schoolchildren to sing in unison, accompanying him when he was still in space, as well as a powerful rendition of David Bowie’s A Space Oddity.

His advice to follow your passions, persevere, show commitment, and work hard resonated with the whole audience and earned him a standing ovation at the end of the night.  This was a wonderful opportunity to hear a quite remarkable and inspiring man, and we all left The Usher Hall just that little bit more lifted and enthused, and very, very glad we’d gone.