A Sussex lawyer has swapped the courtroom for the stage after a serious eye condition made him re-think his life and follow his passion for entertaining people.
Tim Crook AKA Tim B’vard, from Battle, is fast gathering an audience of loyal fans who come to see him and the regular people who give 15-minute talks about their passions.
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Topics have included meteorites, Edwardian drunks, crop circles, bizarre Sussex sports and circuit bending.
The slots have become so popular that Tim is now taking bookings for speakers four months ahead in St Leonards.
The unique thing about the events is that no one apart from Tim and his Piano Man Dan knows in advance what the speakers will be talking about.
There are also opportunities for audience members to take part in improv games such as talking to mystery slides.
Tim hosts what his daughter named the Bavard Bar on the first Thursday of every month at Printers Playhouse in Eastbourne and the third Wednesday of every month at Kino-teatr in Norman Road St Leonards.
Tim explains: “The Bavard Bar is kind of a cross between TED talks and a comedy night.
The name Bavard Bar comes from ‘bavarder’ meaning ‘to chat’ in French. It’s a place for people to come together, connect and share their passions.
“People seem to like not knowing what they are going to hear about and that they might discover something amazing - the topics are kept a complete secret.”
Tim has macular degeneration and lost the vision in one eye in 1996 aged just 28.
The disease can strike quickly and if treatment is not sought within hours there’s a possibility of complete vision loss. Unfortunately the treatment he received at that time did not work.
In 2011, while a single dad to his young daughter and juggling his work as a lawyer with childcare, Tim had another sudden onset of the disease in his remaining eye while reading his daughter a bed-time story.
Tim was within hours of totally losing his remaining sight. Fortunately he took immediate action by going to Moorfields Hospital in London where a specialist consultant offered him a drug that worked.
Since then Tim has had a recurrence but his sight is now recovering in that eye.
“Before I had problems with my eyes I knew that being a lawyer wasn’t really ‘me’ and what I wanted to do with my life. The condition pushed me towards my new calling,” he said.
With over 10,000 hours on his feet as a courtroom lawyer, Tim finds speaking in front of an audience comfortable and he is able to cope well with any surprises these ‘live’ events throw up.
“As a criminal lawyer I was sometimes handed a case and had little time to prepare but if you exposed a weakness you would lose the confidence of the judge.
“So the court-room tactics of knowing what to say and when to say it are invaluable at the Bavard Bar.
“The skills of balancing clients with witnesses and putting people at ease are also handy.
“And at the Bavard Bar the more I make things up on the spot the more people seem to enjoy the show.
“I just love the spontaneity of the events and the fact that nothing is rehearsed,” explains Tim.
As well as an accomplished and skilled public speaker, Tim is an acknowledged expert on social housing law including disrepair, policies and procedures, anti-social behaviour, gas safety and landlord and tenancy disputes.
A specialist property solicitor, Tim founded Housing Law Services in September 2003 focusing on social housing and housing management.