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Looking back - it’s all been about communication...
Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2022

Born a very long time ago in Bristol and raised in Weston-super-Mare.

Weston beach with brother Geoffrey.

Went – or perhaps was taken pretty firmly – to dancing classes, and it kind of took a hold.

4 Years old

8 years old

Acted a bit

Peter Pan – shades of Edmund Kean…

Catching Polio proved a bit of a blow while at the Rambert School, but recovered enough to do a lot more dancing here and there, and finally in Paris.

Cabaret at the Drap d’Or.

Returned to teach drama and dance in state schools, then took the chance to become Head of Dance (students) and Theatre Training (schoolchildren)at Arts Ed., London. 23 years of dealing with sore feet, anorexia, broken hearts and soaring ambitions – wonderful!

Rehearsal for a show.

Enjoyed teaching actors’ movement in the Drama Department and writing Theatre in Education plays for the students.

The Two Golden Giants of the West – or was it East? But which one grew up to be Doc Martin?

Founded Dancers Anonymous – probably the first small company to provide students with the opportunity to test out professional life in the theatre. Over the fifteen years of its existence, what disasters there were, but what fun we had and how much we all learnt!

A different poster pic for each year was a big decision.

In between, managed to gain the Gold Medal of the Poetry Society in the speaking of Verse. Just might be prouder of this than anything – it was so difficult and took several shots to attain it. Lesson – don’t give up!

Chaperoned children singing at the English National Opera including (in better times than now) taking eight of them to Russia – what an adventure that was!

You can’t sing all day! On the banks of the Neva, Leningrad (now St Petersburg)

During this time the first of the four children’s books were written. Hodder, the publishers, took me on, and Step Into the Dark took its first step out into the world. The other books followed in quick succession and – very exciting – Feast of Fools was nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe Award for mystery writers in America.

You can find out more about them and how to get to read them on the ‘Coming Soon’ page.

Why no more books till now? Life took a different turn. A part-time BA in the History of Art at brilliant Birkbeck was quickly followed by an MA, and the discovery was made that at over 50 years old – it’s never too late to launch a second career. This one was at the National Gallery, first as a freelance educator, working with schoolchildren discussing pictures, how to look at, think about and delight in them. Then Outreach Officer, reaching hospital schools, young offenders’ units, children with anxiety-based absence, care homes and other places where people can’t get to visit the Gallery. Gave the first of many audio-descriptions for visitors with a visual impairment in London.

Official retirement at 65 was supposed to be the end of that career, but no. An exciting time followed, becoming an audio-describer at the National Theatre and for VocalEyes. Introduced audio-description at other galleries, and at the wonderful Wallace Collection.

Audio-describing pictures at the Wallace Collection.
The Wallace Collection Archive

Young Cultural Creators’ great scheme for creative writing workshops came next. Working with schools in museums and galleries all over the south and west of England sparked off a passion for helping to give young people the urge to write.

Delving into the past at Devon Archives in Exeter

This really took off at the Wallace Collection. Students of all ages come to enjoy the paintings and other art works in the amazing collection and then enjoy writing their thoughts and ideas and sharing them in an informal and positive way.  Over twenty years, a great team of facilitators has been built up and is now also at the Royal Collection, working at the Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Palaces, doing exciting and innovative creative writing sessions with schools.

Teamwork at Buckingham Palace.
Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2022

But then, just when second retirement beckoned with its crooked finger – back to the National Gallery to write accessible interpretations for the website – no photos of that – all the pictures you need are in the Gallery. Go and have a look, why not?

Still writing programmes for new exhibition creative writing workshops and very occasionally (and luckily) with a gaggle of lovely children at the Queen’s Gallery, at Buckingham Palace and at the Morrab Library in Penzance.

Not all pictures tell stories pictures in paint.
The Queen’s Gallery Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2022
Words make pictures too.
The Morrab Library, Penzance. Courtesy of the Morrab Library, Penzance.

Apart from two children, five grand and four great-grandchildren (all well-nigh perfect of course!), that’s about it. Except that now – now there’s Wake up Mr Kean!

Edmund Kean – now there’s someone who knew how to communicate… hope you like his story.

There will be more stories about these adventures as the website, like the writer, gets older and older! If there’s anything you’d especially like to know about – let me know: [email protected]  WATCH THIS SPACE…

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