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Science Speakeasy: Fitting into our Genes

Separate admission fees apply
Adults (18+)
Thursday 5 October, 8:00pm - 9:45pm
Science Speakeasy on fitting into our genes

It’s 25 years since the NHS Fertility Clinic at Life opened its doors and the whole area of fertility remains complex, sensitive – and fascinating.  

  • In 2005, UK law changed so that sperm and egg donors could no longer do so anonymously. The first children born after this change turn 18 this year and will have the right to discover their true genetic heritage.
  • Case studies from Sweden and the Netherlands, whose law changed earlier than ours, have shown that far fewer than expected people sought their genetic parents’ identity when they were legally allowed to.

At this Science Speakeasy we’ll be joined by a panel that includes fertility experts and those with lived experience to discuss their own perspectives and expertise.

Terms and conditions

Does genetic heritage really matter in the modern family?

Ticket prices

Adult (aged 18 and over) £8.00
Carer (please bring proof) FREE

The conversations at Speakeasy events are shaped by audience interaction, but we expect the discussion to cover:

Law icon.

Should children conceived through donation have a legal right to know this?

Family icon.

Does genetic heritage matter in a society with changing values on what makes a family?

Self identity icon.

How does discovering your true genetic heritage as an adult affect your sense of self?


Alistair Ford

Dr Alistair Ford (Chair)

Alistair is a lecturer in Geospatial Engineering at Newcastle University, using mapping data and computer models to explore sustainable and resilience cities. He’s particularly interested in the way that land-use and transport planning can be used to adapt our urban areas to climate change. He loves chairing the Science Speakeasy events because he gets to have fascinating discussions with knowledgeable people about subjects he knows nothing about! Alistair’s twitter.

Nina Barnsley is a panelist at Life Science Centre's Speakeasy on fertility.

Nina Barnsley

Nina is the director of the Donor Conception Network, a support organisation for people considering donor conception and parents who have donor conceived children. The charity was founded 30 years ago and Nina has been leading the team for the last 8 years. She has a deep understanding of the particular issues affecting families created through donor conception and regularly speaks and writes on the subject. The charity also publishes a range of books for both parents and children. It is a resource for academics and policy-makers, as well as a much-needed voice for donor conception families more widely.

Hayley King is a panellist at Life Science Centre's Fertility Speakeasy.

Hayley King

Hayley is both a donor conceived adult and a Mum to six year old twins with her wife thanks to sperm donation. Hayley found out in her 30’s that she was donor conceived, and in 2019 was able to locate her parent’s (previously) anonymous sperm donor and several of her half siblings thanks to commercial DNA testing.​


Once a family secret, Hayley has now made the decision to speak publicly about her story, and has become more involved in educational and advocacy work around the subject of donor conception. Specifically, in January 2023 Hayley became the LGBTQ+ Director at Paths to Parenthub, an online support platform for parents via donor conception, and more recently launched her own website All Things Donor Conception. Both of these roles see Hayley supporting parents, donors and donor conceived adults on a daily basis.

Dr Meenakshi Choudhary is a panellist at Life Science Centre's Fertility Speakeasy.

Dr Meenakshi Choudhary

Dr Meenakshi Choudhary is a leading Clinician in Reproductive Medicine at the internationally renowned Newcastle Fertility Centre (operating at Life) and clinical lead for the Newcastle Fertility Centre’s egg donor program.


She is passionate about empowering women who volunteer to be donors and give a ‘gift of life’ to several women who suffer from infertility or deadly inheritable diseases. She believes in a ‘donor-centric’ approach keeping the best interests of the donors at heart without compromising the chance of a baby for the women needing these eggs.

Gillian Redhead is a panellist at Life Science Centre's Fertility Speakeasy.

Gillian Redhead

Gillian has worked at the internationally renowned Newcastle Fertility Centre since 1997 (before it moved to Life). Prior to that, she was a midwife at Newcastle Hospital.


In 2004, Gillian took over as coordinator for patients having sperm donation treatment. This role involves managing the waiting list for sperm donors as well as changes in legislation (including the change of anonymity law in 2005).


Now a Fertility Nurse Specialist, Gillian offers patient care in all aspects of fertility treatment, whilst continuing to lead the sperm donor treatment pathway.

Additional information

This event is in partnership with the NHS Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, which celebrates its 25th birthday this year. 

It is part of Life’s Science Speakeasy’s programme – a series in which important and often controversial topics are debated in a quirky and often irreverent way. No topic is taboo, so these events are not suitable for anyone who is easily offended!


We do, however, ensure that all discussion is based on correct science to avoid the spread of misinformation. Questions to the panel are encouraged, or you can just sit back and enjoy the event. Limited tickets available. Pay bar available on the evening.

‘The speakers were excellent and their collective knowledge of the topic was great. The debate was lively and interesting- enough to keep a non-science novice engaged. The atmosphere was relaxed and there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions.’

‘A very enjoyable event in a relaxed atmosphere. A well informed debate from very knowledgeable guests covering separate but related areas of expertise, without getting too “heavy”. A wide range of audience members provided a number of interesting questions.

‘The whole setup is excellent, and it’s lovely to be able to enjoy a night out that is original and not just another sweaty bar or expensive restaurant. It’s nice to connect with culture and knowledge.’

Getting here

Life is located in Times Square, just a two minute walk from Newcastle Central train and Metro station.

Driving? Times Square Car Park is just around the corner. The sat nav reference for the car park is NE1 4AD (opposite Jurys Inn hotel). Look out for Centre for Life and/or Times Square Car Park signage to direct you.

Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP