Who we are
Helen Nugent is the Founder and Editor of Northern Soul. A Northern lass, born and bred in Manchester, Helen is back in her home town for good after working in London for The Times and a number of other national newspapers. When she’s not writing, her time is spent exploring the North’s nooks and crannies. You can find articles by Helen in The Guardian, The Mail on Sunday, The Times, the i newspaper, The Observer, The Big Issue in the North, the Yorkshire Post, The Spectator, the Daily Star, Creative Tourist, Manchester Salon, the British Theatre Guide, Amateur Gardening, Contributoria, MCR and various in-flight magazines.
During ten years at The Times, she won a series of awards and had a number of roles including News Reporter, News Editor, Lobby Correspondent in the House of Commons, Business Reporter and Financial Writer. In addition, Helen runs her own media training and consultancy firm. She is currently a Media Consultant and Corporate Writer for a number of high-profile businesses including two Manchester-based digital agencies, a London PR firm, a global property company, and a leading trade body.
Helen has also appeared on Sky News, The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Merseyside, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC World Service and talkRadio. She regularly chairs arts conferences in the North West including events for HOME, CityCo, The Lowry and 24:7 Theatre Festival. She also took part in the Manchester Literature Festival. Helen is a regular panellist at events around Manchester and regularly hosts Google Hangouts for arts companies.
Most recently, Helen has become a Business Presenter on BBC local radio across the country and on BBC Radio 5 Live. She is also a Guest Lecturer at Westminster University in the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication.
Last year Helen became Online Money Editor of The Spectator.
Feel free to drop her a line at email@example.com or via the contacts page. All correspondence is welcome, particularly if you would like to share a magical Northern experience.
Emma Yates-Badley is Northern Soul’s Deputy Editor. She was born and raised in Warwickshire but has lived in Manchester, on and off, for the past decade. A keen writer, she has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University and is currently working on a Young Adult novel.
As well as writing Northern Soul‘s It’s Not Grim up North column, she regularly blogs – with a particular penchant for chatting about travelling solo, Northern life and being single – over at Emma is Writing.
Sarah Ainsworth is Northern Soul’s Events Manager. Her background as a PA has set her in good stead to make the change to a freelance events manager and she is loving every minute of it. She’s a straight-talking Northern girl as well as a USA sitcom junkie and bookworm.
A proud Northerner and even prouder Geordie, Stephanie Alderson graduated with a degree in Writing and English Literature from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge and considers that her finest moment there was amusing and confusing the Southerners with a poem she had written entirely in Geordie slang. Still a bit of a newbie to Manchester, she enjoys exploring the city and sampling the food in the ever-changing restaurant scene. In her spare time, Stephanie is trying her best to write short fiction, getting too emotionally invested in video games and eating sweets at the cinema.
Lynne Bateson is Northern Soul‘s US Correspondent. An award-winning British journalist and former national newspaper executive, Lynne is a journalist, writer, and media consultant near Los Angeles. She was raised near Leeds and started her career on the Pudsey News and then the Yorkshire Evening Post.
She moved to the US as a permanent resident under the Department of Homeland Security’s classification ‘alien of extraordinary ability’ and now has both UK and US citizenship. She enjoys observing the differences and similarities between her two countries.
Lynne has worked for many UK national Fleet Street titles, often managing intense and fast change. She has been an assistant editor, managing editor, leader writer, columnist, section head, and reporter. She has done most kinds of journalism, including financial and consumer.
Latterly, Lynne has freelanced for British national newspapers, co-written a screenplay for an animated TV cartoon, collaborated on books about comedy and psychotherapy, given strategic advice to international companies and consultancies, conducted corporate brainstorming, and media-trained leaders.
Lynne takes pride in explaining complicated concepts simply, without patronising the ignorant, or irritating the informed. She relishes discovering what people want to say and helping them say it clearly with punch and passion. She is also an occasional writer and performer of stand-up comedy. And she knows lots about the paranormal!
Simon Belt is Northern Soul‘s IT Consultant. He is the coordinator of Manchester Salon, a forum that engages individuals through discussion and debate, using web and social media techniques to reach audiences in innovative ways. In addition, Simon helps businesses make better use of technology through his company, Simply Better IT. Simon is keen to ensure that technology isn’t fetishised and doesn’t become a barrier to productive human relations.
While Simon has always had an irreverent passion for challenging ideas, he tries to write reviews and organise public discussions in ways that draw out wider social trends. Simon moved to Manchester during the miners’ strike in the 1980s amidst widespread opposition to austerity in Thatcher’s Britain. He thinks that politicos and businesses alike can learn much from picking up on the spirit of the times – and reacting in a proactive way. Perhaps his return to his childhood joy of playing golf may reflect the trend for more social sports? Or maybe not. Either way he would love to have a game with you in the delightful surroundings of New Mills where he plays golf at probably the friendliest golf club in Derbyshire.
Kevin Bourke is Northern Soul‘s Theatre Editor. A writer and broadcaster, he is a freelance ‘art blokey’ who can be seen pontificating about theatre, film, and almost any vaguely artistic topic on the BBC Breakfast sofa, or heard on local and national BBC Radio. He’s a regular contributor to The Big Issue In The North, Songlines, the roots music magazines R2 and No Depression and many other magazines and websites here and in the US, as well as chairing the fearlessly-independent Manchester Theatre Awards. For many years he wrote about film and theatre for the Manchester Evening News, sneaking in esoteric folk, blues and Americana music whenever he could. He was an early champion of the likes of Peter Kay and Danny Boyle, but he’s equally proud that Lou Reed slammed the phone down on him and that Robbie Williams once tore up one of his articles in front of thousands of angry fans. Visiting some dubious Manchester dives with the late Leonard Cohen and, more recently, dodging polar bears with a bunch of blues musicians are just a couple more of his adventures in arts land. Although he was born ‘a soft Southern Jessie’ in that there London, Kevin is keen to point out that this wasn’t his fault and that, ever since coming up to Manchester University in the 70s, he has lived here – next to a pub in the lovely Saddleworth hills these days – by choice.
Laura Brown is a freelance writer, digital consultant and producer and presenter of The Northern Soul Podcast. She writes about art, culture, technology and occasionally football. She lives in Liverpool with a husband and two cats, none of whom listen to her.
Marissa Burgess is Northern Soul‘s Comedy Editor. She was born in Crewe but got a train out to Manchester 20 years ago and has been there ever since. She has been a freelance journalist since 1997 covering the arts, mostly, in the North West of England. Her specialised area is comedy and it’s probably quicker to ask her which comics from Joan Rivers to Johnny Vegas to whom she hasn’t asked nosy questions.
Previously comedy editor at City Life magazine and the main comedy writer at the Manchester Evening News for a number of years, she has written for publications such as The Guardian, The Times, Time Out, Chortle comedy website, The Big Issue in the North, Manchester Confidential and The List. In addition, she has made many TV and radio appearances.
She is also a versatile copywriter and PR and is currently completing her debut novel November and a graphic novel The Amazing Maisie. She gets regularly drawn into a variety of ill-advised oddball projects with the comedian Arthur Smith.
Helen Carter is an award-winning journalist who was The Guardian‘s correspondent in the North for almost 15 years covering everything from serial killings to a man who turned his canal boat into a German U-boat. She is now a journalist at the BBC and likes the theatre, cats (small c) and skiing.
She also had a stint in London working for a now defunct red top newspaper as a feature writer. She’s quite proud that she managed to write about the campaign for women victims of domestic violence who had been freed from prison on appeal among all the kiss-and-tells.
Helen spent some time as a visiting professor at a North West university while studying for a master’s degree in creative writing at a different uni. The slightly iffy crime novel that she wrote for the course is gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.
Polly Checkland Harding
Polly Checkland Harding came to Manchester University to study for her Creative Writing MA. She has now lived in Manchester for more than two years, but it didn’t take her nearly that long to love it. She is currently assistant editor at Creative Tourist, was previously city editor for Manchester at WOW24/7, and also writes freelance for Manchester Wire, The Double Negative and Northern Soul. Polly has performed at live literature nights Bad Language, Tales of Whatever, Write It: Mic It and First Draft, and is currently working on a novel.
Chef Tony is a gastronome with 15 years’ of experience cooking across the North West. Chef Tony has worked in some of the region’s best kitchens, including the award-winning Nutters in Rochdale and The Lowry at Salford Quays as well as Isola Bella, the first Italian restaurant in Manchester. Chef Tony loves wine and all types of cuisines. He spends his free time reading cookbooks and experimenting with different foods.
Part academic, part idiotic, mostly Lancastrian, Lucia Cox is a writer, producer, director and performer. Lucia wrote the Manchester Theatre Award-nominated play Blackbird which transferred to New York in 2013. She also adapted and directed the Anthony Burgess novel One Hand Clapping which was selected for the 2014 re:play festival at The Lowry in Salford. She writes and performs for the BBC Learning Department.
Lucia is part of the literary department at HOME in Manchester. She reads scripts and runs their play-reading group once a month. She runs a small production company called House of Orphans. Lucia has been a freelance writer for four years and has written for What’s On Stage, GQ Magazine, Manchester Confidential, Chimp Magazine and International Arts Manager.
Cathy Crabb is an award-winning writer who has written extensively for the stage. Her plays include Beautiful House, Moving Pictures, and Beyond the 4th Wall. Her critically acclaimed play The Bubbler toured in 2014. Earlier this year, she co-wrote the musical Dreamers with Lindsay Williams. Her poetry appears in Best of Manchester Poets 2013 and her first collection Beside The See-Side is published by FlapJack Press
She is currently writing The F**k It List– a sit-com with actor Sally Carman, a new musical with Lindsay Williams, her new poetry collection and a play for Proud and Loud about two young people with disabilities who fall in love online called Oh For God’s Sake. Her poetry will be placed on four sculptures in Oldham by the sculptor Emma Hunter in January 2016.
East London boy Richard Dixon has been a journalist since 1979 despite having a PhD in fish glands. But since he studied for it in Sheffield and has maternal roots in Manchester, he believes he has the best of all inheritances: trans-Pennine steel and grit combined with almost never tiring of working life in the capital.
Most of his alleged career has been spent sorting out others’ copy as a subeditor/copy editor, sometimes with a fancy title, although he has occasionally deviated into scribbling, and inexplicably was Medical Journalist of the Year as recently as 1984. He blogs as Style Counsel on the minutiae of newspaper writing and editing. As @Linguagroover Dixon displays all the signs of an advanced, possibly incurable, Twitter obsession. He also virtually spins an MP3 or four as @MLKSoundsDJ.
He remains a (metaphorical) gun for hire both as hack and turntable meister.
Caleb Everett was born with a quill in his hand, of low income even at birth. In time this was replaced with a biro, purchased from The Works (five blue-ink-biros on a £1.99 offer). Since then he has written various things that no-one has read and fewer have cared about. Between 2008-2010 he was the lead drinker of a London-based pop group. He is currently residing in Manchester writing a prequel to a book that hasn’t yet been published and assembling a band, for the first time in three years. He has a certifiable obsession with Patti Smith, wears a size 9 court shoe and claims to have given up smoking to improve his luck on Grindr.
Damon Fairclough is Northern Soul‘s Liverpool Correspondent. A freelance writer based in Liverpool (via a long-lost Sheffield of the soul), in a career spanning a shocking number of years he claims to have written about ‘brutal grey music, ultra-brite passions and the dogged persistence of memory’. In practice, this means writing about mix-tapes, cities, theatres, haircuts, concrete, drizzle and bus stops – among other things.
You might find his words in publications including Northern Soul, Louder Than War, Bido Lito and Stuplex, or you could well discover them over at his own writing archive, Noise Heat Power. You might also wish to know that he’s available for hire as a freelance copywriter and content creator, having previously written for Sony, Toyota, Motorola, Interflora and more. Yes, actual brands you’ve actually heard of.
Claire Fleetneedle is trainee herbalist specialising in remedies and edible uses for local wild plants. In a world where free healthcare may soon be a thing of the past she seeks to revive and pass on our ancient and largely forgotten herb lore. She writes weekly herbal and foraging articles for Life on Pig Row and for her own page Fleetneedles Forage. She also runs her own crafting business, supplying local shops with her handmade gifts and creations.
Angela Ferguson is a freelance journalist and the founder and editor of We Are Chester, a website which looks at all things artistic and cultural in and around Chester. She is also a lecturer in journalism at a university in North Wales and a presenter on the community radio station Flipside Radio in Chester.
Angela is hugely proud to combine all of this with being a single mum to three children. And yes, she should probably be doing more housework rather than taking on new writing and broadcasting projects. But journalism is in her blood and so joining the team at Northern Soul was a no-brainer. Just don’t pick her up on her slatternly ways should you ever visit her at home.
Matthew Graham is a book-loving, music-mad, art fiend from Manchester. He has worked for non-media organisations while indulging himself in his other passions of writing, photography and travel. He is also concerned with a number of wildlife conservation issues, and has a particular interest in trees and birdlife.
A budding author, Matthew has written a volume of poetry and stories for children, though he stresses these are yet to be published! Having travelled a fair bit, he believes that Manchester is one of the best cities in the world, quintessentially quirky and creative and one which, despite the weather, he is always happy to come home to.
Pauline Hadaway has worked in arts and education since 1990. As director of Belfast Exposed Photography between 2000 and 2013, she oversaw its transformation from a small scale, though politically significant, city-based project into an internationally renowned gallery of contemporary photography. Since September 2012, Pauline has been working as an independent arts consultant while undertaking doctoral research at the University of Manchester, looking at the way the arts have been used for economic reconstruction and building the peace in Northern Ireland.
Pauline’s research, writing and consultancy interests have emerged through many years of practical experience as a senior arts manager, negotiating cultural policy within a complex political environment. Publications include: A Cautionary Tale, Printed Project, 2008; Policing the Public Gaze, Manifesto Club, 2009; Us and Them: The making and dissemination of the photography of protest, Photoworks, May 2011; Escaping the Panopticon, Either/And, National Media Museum, October 2012 and Re-imagining Titanic, re-imaging Belfast in Relaunching Titanic: Memory and Marketing in the Post Conflict City, William J. V. Neill (ed), Routledge 2013.
Pauline is co-founder of the Liverpool Salon, a forum for public debate on Merseyside (@liverpoolsalon).
Robert Hamilton is Northern Soul‘s Opera Correspondent. He was born in Belfast more years ago than he cares to remember and has lived and worked in Manchester for 25 of those years. Robert lectures in World Cinema at Manchester Metropolitan University, where it has taken him a quarter of a century to climb to the bottom of his profession. He studied fine art but, on being told that he was not the world’s worst painter but “bloody close”, he decided to follow more profitable pursuits.
He has written for the late and lamented City Life as well as Artscribe, Aspects and Cut Magazine. He wrote an award-winning blog, Around the World in 80 Dinners, and is a founding member of the Chinese Film Forum, UK. He is currently developing a project dedicated to the culture of eyewear called The Society of the Spectacles. He can often be found in the Cornerhouse nursing many gin and tonics. A common term among the bar staff for a G&T is a ‘robert’. Oh, and he loves opera.
Chris Holmes is Northern Soul‘s Gaming Editor. He has combined his twin passions for writing and gaming since the age of ten when he was awarded the coveted ‘letter of the month’ by Computer & Video Games magazine.
After graduating with a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, Chris forged a career in marketing, with a particular strength in copywriting, and a sideline in book editing and half-finished fiction. He also has a particular interest in sports and role-playing games, along with the chaotic and rapid development of the gaming industry during the eight and 16 bit eras.
As Gaming Editor, Chris is keen to explore the increasing number of games being developed in the North, together with the technology and titles which will define the next generation of gaming.
Paul Hunter is Northern Soul’s North Yorkshire Photographer. A freelance landscape photographer based in North Yorkshire with a background in engineering, film, photography and video, he moved into landscape work six years ago and has been busy building a portfolio of local and national landscape imagery ever since. His love of the landscape began as a child with family holidays to Scotland where the dramatic landscapes of Glen Coe and Ben Nevis were imprinted in his mind.
He has exhibited locally and been published in local and national magazines. Paul aims to create positive emotions for viewers of his images, and provide a viewing platform for those who are not able to enjoy visiting the actual locations of his shots.
Paul Husband is an award-winning photographer based in Manchester who specialises in weddings, bands, gigs, portraiture and events. He has recently been working with Elbow, Larkins and Cabbage, among others. Paul’s photographs have been published in various newspapers and websites such as NME (including front cover), Prog Rock, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Manchester Evening News and Northern Soul. He is a recently published author with his book From a Dark Place about his past struggle with addiction.
Shamaila Khan spent almost ten years working for the BBC. Having studied Broadcast Journalism in Nottingham, she couldn’t quite believe her luck when she landed a job at the BBC straight out of university. During her first year at the BBC, Shamaila was lucky enough to interview some of Bollywood’s biggest names. Her dad couldn’t have been more proud!
Marriage meant a move to Lancashire and, although nothing can quite compare to her beloved Manchester, she has grown to love the place.
Since leaving the BBC, Shamaila has undertaken freelance work as well as a number of courses and voluntary work. A particular highlight was working for Manchester-based Rasa Productions where her love of theatre ensured that she felt right at home. Like many mums, she misses her old social life but her inner child secretly loves watching children’s theatre and going on day trips to farms, zoos and theme parks.
Guy Kilty is a Manchester-born bassist, brewer, footballer and, in his spare time, freelance journalist. Eight years as a code monkey in the late 1990s and early 2000s were followed by three as an English teacher in Thailand and Australia before he started making a living in the media. Now he spends most of his time as a producer and reporter at BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Manchester while taking on writing projects that float his boat. A funk and soul obsessive, Guy plays bass in The Exacters and has been on tour in the UK and Australia with bands in the past. He’s also searching for the perfect beer brew and reckons he’s getting close (even though almost no-one else does). And he’s still got it on the football pitch, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Harry Kretchmer and The North were introduced by the BBC, first at its old Manchester base (RIP Oxford Road), then in Salford Quays. From 5 live late night argy-bargy fixer to Breakfast business producer, Harry got to know the city through those who would house him: Castlefield YHA (stunning ironwork, snoring tourists); Fallowfield engineer (Corrie cobbles); Whalley Range Mastermind exec (leafy, strangely empty streets); Sale artist (cats, canals – now home).
He read history at Oxford, as they say on University Challenge (RIP Granada), then completed a postgraduate diploma in broadcast journalism at Cardiff University.
These days Harry likes to explore the area’s canals and poke around interesting old buildings, taking the odd snap before he gets chased off. Occasionally, Harry can also be found sampling the varied cuisines and refreshments of the area.
Stephen Longstaffe was born in that London to a Scouse/Irish couple and grew up in the civilised edgelands of Wirral suburbia. Subsequently he moved for education’s sake to the rather more scenic environs of ancestral Lancaster, in the days when Tina Turner and U2 used to turn up to entertain the students. He has interviewed Dames and Booker winners on stage at Keswick’s Words by the Water book festival, and occasionally appears on local radio talking about the English language or Shakespeare. The last hobby he had time for was as a member of script-free group Improv Express where he specialised in inserting Hunchback of Notre Dame impressions into sketches. Via the day job as university English literature lecturer he is something of an authority on the clowns of Shakespeare’s era. His theatre reviews have appeared in What’s On Stage and The Stage.
Conversations with him tend to start and finish with an explanation of the first rule of Introvert Club.
For more than two years, Lucy McNamara was the presenter and producer of the Northern Soul Podcast. She is an experienced freelance broadcast journalist who broadcasts regularly for the BBC, XFM, Capital, LBC and Real Radio. Lucy has covered the Latitude festival for the Global network for the last few years and is an experienced festival reporter. She has produced packages for BBC 6 Music with bands such as The Drums and Veronica Falls.
Lucy has also interviewed headline acts Vampire Weekend, The Temper Trap and Corinne Bailey Rae as well as folk star Seth Lakeman.
Andy Murray is Northern Soul‘s Film Editor. He has been an arts freelancer since 1999, initially for City Life magazine and more recently for The Big Issue in the North, among others. He edited a story anthology for Comma Press, and currently teaches Film Journalism at the University of Salford.
Originally from Timperley, Andy can’t recall ever seeing Frank Sidebottom down the local Spar. But he does have vivid childhood memories of being menaced by big boys when trying to cross the bridge onto the local field – boys who are now better known as key members of The Stone Roses.
He is, needless to say, not the Scottish tennis guy. But he did once receive a publicity photograph of him to sign by mistake.
Chris Park is Northern Soul‘s Travel Editor. He has been writing for Northern Soul for two years and in that time he has sat in Vera Duckworth’s living room, met Postman Pat and discovered a love of Victorian gangs. What will the next year bring?
Chris also writes for www.canal-st.co.uk and after graduating with a MA in Television and Radio Scriptwriting from Salford University is now attempting his first novel.
Chris enjoys all things cultural from theatre to gigs to reading, as well as the odd pint down the local.
He studied theatre and film at Glasgow University before heading down to Manchester at the turn of the century. He soon joined the team at Cornerhouse, working as box office manager for several years. Chris recently ended a ten year stint as host of the monthly film quiz – as a result he has an extensive knowledge of random bobbins which will almost certainly be of no use to him at any point in his life.
A saxophonist, he has played in a variety of bands, ranging from a ten-piece celtic folk big band to a traditional ska outfit, supporting legends such as The Beat, Bad Manners, Neville Staple and, erm, The Drifters. He currently plays soprano sax with Ears in Excellent Condition – a trio performing live scores to silent films.
You can see more of Chris’s work at chrispayneimages.co.uk.
Gerry Potter is a poet, actor, director and one time Gingham Diva. Creator and destroyer of Chloe Poems, Gerry is now on a ten year mission to write ten genre-defying autobiographical slabs of theatre-verse. A mixture of poetry, prose and play-writing, Planet Young, Planet Middle-Age, The Men Pomes, Fifty, and The Chronicles Of Folly Butler are the back-bone artwork of a complex and full life.
No stranger to stages around the country and abroad, Gerry as Chloe also performed and guest lectured at Harvard University. He is currently working on the sixth monumental segment of autobiography, Accidental Splendour Of The Splash. At 53, Gerry is still an unapologetic hedonist – you just may see him swirling out of control on a dance floor near you. And he’s really rather fond of the selfie.
Phil Pounder is Northern Soul‘s North East Photographer. A Durham University maths graduate whose artistic/creative side has taken 40 years to fight its way out of his logical brain, Phil is originally from County Durham. Via a seven year stint in London, he now lives in Low Fell and works for an IT consultancy based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Can often be found down the Quayside with his ‘way too expensive camera’ (not his words obviously) looking for new angles of the Tyne Bridge. A keen photographer who is discovering the joy of ND filters, bokeh and pano stitching. Can be found on twitter @glasses502.
Wendy Pratt is Northern Soul‘s Poetry Correspondent. She was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire in 1978. Wendy now lives just outside Filey. She studied Biomedical Science at Hull University and worked as a microbiologist at the local NHS hospital for some years. She completed a BA in English Literature with the Open University in 2014.
Wendy started trying to fashion a career out of her writing in 2008 and has since had her poetry published in many journals and magazines including The Interpreter’s House, Pennine Platform, Prole, Envoi, Other Poetry, Acumen, The Frogmore Papers and The English Chicago Review.
Wendy’s first poetry pamphlet, Nan Hardwicke Turns into a Hare, was published by Prolebooks in 2011 and was well received, being reviewed favourably in the Times Literary Supplement. The collection centred on the loss of Wendy and her husband’s baby daughter who died during an emergency C-section in April 2010.
Her first full size collection, Museum Pieces, is also published by Prolebooks. It was launched in January 2014. The collection has already had a number of positive reviews. The concept of the collection is that of a museum where memories, events, objects, thoughts are touchstones for something deeper; the poems are artefacts to be observed.
You can find out more about Wendy on her website: wendypratt.com
Jeff Prestridge is Personal Finance Editor of The Mail on Sunday. Over the years he’s won a few awards for his reporting although anyone who writes on money matters tends to win an occasional accolade. More than anything else – apart from the odd bottle of Viognier – he just loves writing. It’s his elixir.
Although Jeff makes his living from writing about money – contributing to a variety of publications such as Moneywise, Financial Adviser and the online version of The Spectator – there is more to him than just Isas and pensions.
A Brummie by birth (yes, poor man) and a Londoner by work (yes, far too expensive to live there), Jeff spends most of his holidays up North in the Lake District, struggling up mountains, running up and down trails, and drinking Bluebird Bitter. He claims to be a runner – some would argue otherwise.
When not in the Lakes or chained to his desk in London, Jeff likes to immerse himself in custard (no, only joking). He adores his cinema, the arts and theatre and loves creating pots of beauty for his balcony overlooking the Thames. Give him a sunflower seed and he is in second heaven.
For his sins, he’s a long standing (sitting) season ticket holder at West Bromwich Albion Football Club and a regular at the Cobblers (Northampton Football Club) where his son is fitness coach. Indeed, there’s only a handful of football grounds he’s not been to. Along the way, he’s being chased out of Darlington FC (Feethams) by marauding home fans, stopped a fight at Macclesfield FC, and being caught in a Hartlepool gale at Victoria Park.
Long separated, joyful (most of the time) and a proud (but fading) ginga, Jeff is just happy to be alive. His younger sister lives in Manchester and he is overjoyed that the Tour of Tameside (four days of running) has been resurrected after a long absence.
Drew Savage is a TV sport broadcaster, writer and producer who sometimes pops up on the radio, and was part of a BBC Sport Interactive production team that was nominated for a BAFTA after the Beijing Olympics…although he is possibly best known for losing his keys at least four times a week. Born and brought up in Staffordshire, Drew went to university just outside London, moved to the capital in 1998 and stayed there until his day job with BBC Sport moved to Manchester in 2012*
He specialises in making one-minute highlights packages for the sports bulletins on the BBC News Channel (where he can be heard but not seen) as well as commentating and reporting on football for BBC London, Radio Devon, BBC Manchester and the occasional appearance on Final Score. In his short-lived role as BBC Somerset‘s Punk & New Wave correspondent, he once did a phone interview with Chas out of Chas & Dave and met Tommy Banner, the accordion player out of The Wurzels, on the same day.
Other career highlights include more usual stuff like interviewing Arsene Wenger, reporting from Wembley, covering Bradley Wiggins’ victorious Tour de France campaign and gold medal-winning performance at the Olympics…and arranging for The Chuckle Brothers to appear on BBC Look North to preview an FA Cup Replay between Rotherham and Northampton. Apart from that, he spends a lot of time listening to BBC 6music, exploring the galleries, cinemas and gig venues of Manchester and the North West, and his preferred means of transport is the bicycle.
*excluding a four month dalliance with Leeds and a two year sojourn in Somerset.
Alfred Searls was born, bred and buttered in the city of Manchester. After a grimly successful career in PR and marketing, which left him with a nagging suspicion he was becoming a character in a Kafka novel, he branched out into writing things he actually wanted to write. Consequently he now writes for Northern Soul on a range of subjects from literature and music to architecture and the theatre.
Emma Simon is a freelance journalist and copywriter. She mainly writes on money matters and other consumer issues. Her articles have appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Sunday Times, The Spectator and Guardian Online. Previously, she was the Deputy Personal Finance Editor at The Daily Telegraph.
Being freelance has allowed her to concentrate on independent writing projects – and her own poetry. Over the past five years she has had poems published in various magazines and anthologies, and has been placed in a number of national competitions, including winning the Prole Laureate Competition in 2013. Her first poetry pamphlet will be published next year.
After a brief foray into the world of stand-up comedy, Hayley-Jane focused on writing funnies. Her sitcom, Canal Street, was developed by cofilmic and Michael Jacob and was showcased in Manchester with expert compèring provided by funny woman Aisling Bea. More recently she has been a storyliner on long-running Channel 4 soap, Hollyoaks. As well as scriptwriting, Hayley-Jane is currently working with cofilmic to develop a network for women in film and TV in the North of England.
An avid juggler of projects, Hayley-Jane blogs about her experiences of being a gay woman in Manchester.
Lyndsey Skinner is Northern Soul’s North East Correspondent. She’s also a PhD student in English Literature at Northumbria University. While her days are spent writing about Romantic poetry and the literary magazines and popular culture of the early 19th century, her spare time is largely spent daydreaming, waiting for buses that never arrive, watching European cinema in the hope it might teach her French and indulging a love of indie pop and post-punk.
Lyndsey is an obsessive fan of The Smiths, has DJ’d an event under the moniker ‘The Hand that Rocks the Turntable’ and once dressed up (to a stunning degree of detail and accuracy) as Morrissey for a Halloween party. Alongside her academic writing, she writes creatively with a particular penchant for scriptwriting and hopes to have her work staged in Newcastle in the near future.
Steve Slack writes about museums, galleries and days out – anything with a tea room or a gift shop. He works as a writer and consultant in built and cultural heritage. He grew up in Manchester and now lives in the city centre. Steve blogs cultural stuff at steveslack.co.uk; tweets as @steveslack and instagrams museum nonsense at @museumofsteve.
Richard Stephenson caught the political bug early in life which turned into an obsession for communications. He worked on his first political campaign in the UK at the age of 15 and took a trip to Washington DC aged 16 to work on his first of two Presidential campaigns.
He studied politics, international relations and history at Coventry University before going to Cardiff Journalist School to complete his post-grad. Since then he has developed his political and professional careers and in 2004 became the youngest ever President of the Conservative Party Convention at the age of just 28, chairing the party conference in Bournemouth that year. He has trained politicians in Europe and Africa and toured the five regional capitals of Pakistan to debate East/West relations.
Professionally, Richard has been the Director of Public Relations for Royal Mail Group and Director of Corporate Affairs for AXA, as well as holding board level positions in consultancies. Richard is also passionate about charity and organised his first fundraising event aged seven, raising £80 for the local Help the Aged. He is now chairman of Kids Count, a charity that brings the voice of young people to Parliament and seeks solutions to the problems faced by kids in urban and rural areas.
Richard is a frustrated writer and constantly tries to capture his experiences in notes and memos. Married to Liam since 2010, the couple live in central London and are totally besotted with their recently adopted Jack Russell Dachshund puppy, Bobby, who is bound to be an inspiration for future columns.
A freelance copywriter, Jack Stocker was born and raised in a small town in Surrey. He moved up North to study journalism and broadcasting at Salford University, and after that there was literally no going back (the train ticket was a single).
Since then, he has taken up permanent residence as – among other things – a reviewer for Take One, as well as writing and producing short films and radio dramas. Jack has been writing creatively since the age of 13 – most of his fiction is of the fantasy and horror variety, much like the books that fill his shelves at home. You can read some of it, as well as his other endeavours, on his personal website.
Jack’s other hobbies include reviewing video games, fruitlessly learning to play the guitar, and trying to remember why he came upstairs.
Greg Thorpe is an arts freelancer, writer, copy editor, DJ, events promoter and graduate of the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. He has worked with Cornerhouse, The Whitworth, Central Library, Manchester Art Gallery, Islington Mill and Manchester International Festival. Greg’s writing has appeared in Time Out, Manchester Evening News, City Life, Creative Tourist, The Big Issue, Metro, Scout London, Manchester Wire, The 405 and the Itchy Guides. He runs the club nights Drunk At Vogue and Off The Hook and writes the Manhattanchester blog. He likes porters and stouts, red wine, vegetarian food, beards and bikes.
In a career that can only be described as ‘all over the place’, Drew Tosh has had a crack at many things from PR to puppetry, care homes to cancer research fundraising, though his main career was arts marketing and PR where he promoted everything from Wagner’s Ring Cycle and an Andy Warhol exhibition, to the World Pipe Band Championships and the re-opening of the Forth & Clyde Canal.
Drew has written a wee novel (likely never to see the light of day), plus a couple of monologues that were performed in the last century. Having recently started blogging at gnomesandpineapples.wordpress.com, this is a huge deal for him as he claims he’s a technological cretin.
Drew believes that Kate Bush should be made Queen (though if Scotland ever gets independence then it ought to be Lulu), macaroni cheese should be available on the NHS and every problem can be eased with a bowl of trifle.
Chris Wallis has been a radio drama producer for 25 years, a theatre director for 40 years, and a foodie fan for a lot longer than that. Born in Aberdeen and brought up in Hounslow, he went to Liverpool University in the late 60s in search of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Failing to find the first, he taught himself to cook from Mastering The Art Of French Cooking by Beck, Bertholle and Child – a manual he thinks is yet to be surpassed and is still in print. In fact, it’s probably the only cookery book to have had a film made about it (Julia and Julia). The second and third have provided him with stories ever after. Thanks to the BBC, he moved to Manchester in 1991 and has been here ever since, but he commutes to London and a lot of his restaurant experience is drawn from there. To see what Chris does for a living, go to www.watershedtheatre.com.
Fresh from the toil of A-levels, Isabel Webb is currently studying history at University College London. You can read all about her attempts to navigate life in London and wear her Northern roots proudly on her sleeve in her blog for Northern Soul, Chips ’n’ Gravy.
Originally from Manchester, she has spent the last few years exploring the South Manchester suburbs and the city itself. The result of this is a blog in her own little corner of the internet called Daphne & Delilah which features restaurant write-ups, theatre reviews and general musings on life. Isabel has written articles for The Lowry, Didsbury Community Index and the University of Manchester, among others. As an aspiring journalist, she hopes this list will continue to grow. For now though, you can read her (unfortunately un-edited) thoughts on Twitter @DaphneDelilah.
Northen Soul Awards 2017
The Northern Soul Awards 2017, hosted by Lemn Sissay MBE, will celebrate and reward cultural and artistic excellence in the North of England. Enter now.