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, among others, 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, British Theatre Guide, Amateur Gardening, The Journal of Trading Standards, Catena, MCR and various in-flight magazines.
Previous roles include producing and presenting the business news at BBC Radio 5 Live and on BBC local radio across the UK, and freelancing for The Daily Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Times and the Financial Times. She has recently finished an 18-month contract as Money Editor of The Spectator.
During ten years at The Times, she won a series of awards including Journalist of the Year and had a number of jobs 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. Roles include Media Consultant, Corporate Writer and Content Provider for a number of high-profile businesses.
Helen has also appeared on Sky News, 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 conferences including events for HOME, CityCo, The Lowry and Virgin Money. Helen is a panellist at events around the North and hosts Google Hangouts for arts companies. She was also a Guest Lecturer at Westminster University in the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication and at City University. In 2017, she was shortlisted for Person with Purpose in the Northern Power Women Awards.
Last year, Helen established Northern Soul Events. Along with her team, she hosted the inaugural Northern Soul Awards at Manchester Hilton. This year’s awards will be held at Manchester Cathedral. In partnership with Cracking Wine, she is launching The Proper Northern Drinks Festival in April 2019. In addition, Helen is chairing a number of events at the 2018 Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival.
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 is also Literary Editor. Emma 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 non-fiction book.
Emma writes Northern Soul‘s It’s Not Grim Up North column where she covers anything and everything, from theatre and live music reviews to interviews with a bunch of interesting people (and animals), and editorials.
After the success of 2017’s inaugural Northern Soul Awards, Emma has stepped up her role in the organisation and is now a key member of the Northern Soul events team. Her work this year includes helping to spearhead the Northern Soul Awards 2018 and The Proper Northern Drinks Festival, as well a whole host of other great ideas we’re keeping hidden up our sleeves.
Carole Baldock is the proud owner of three children (all in good working order), two cats (need slight attention), a BA Hons, a pamphlet, BITCHING, and a collection, Give Me Where to Stand (Headland). She is also Editor of Orbis, a renowned international literary journal first established nearly 50 years ago, and has contributed reviews to The Stage, WhatsOnStage etc. Her books include How To Raise Confident Children and Writing Reviews.
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. You can find Lynne on Twitter at @Bateson.
A proud Cumbrian from the land of the gadgees and the marras, and a recent English Literature graduate of Cumbria University, Rebekah is a part-time barista and a full-time culture vulture (or so they call her). When she’s not experimenting with latte art or absorbing the fine culture that the North has to offer, Rebekah will mostly be found among the book shelves of her local Oxfam where she donates her time in support of the cause. You can see more of what Rebekah is up to on her travels around the North via her Instagram page @rebsyb.
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 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.
Margaret Brecknell is a freelance writer and quiz setter, based in deepest North West Lancashire. Her interests include history, vintage items, quizzing, footie and cats, but she is happy to write on any subject. Just to prove it, she has written for such diverse publications as Best of British, Football Pink and Life In A Kilt. A former contestant of several TV quizzes, Margaret also likes to challenge unsuspecting readers with her tricky puzzles and quizzes.
Margaret can be found on Twitter @mabrecknell.
Laura Brown is a freelance writer, digital consultant and was the 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.
Laura worked at the BBC, first as a mic stand for John Peel, then in Sheffield and Liverpool. She was a journalist and producer before moving into the arts to work at FACT in Liverpool as its first press manager. There, as the city was in the run-up to 2008, she worked with artists and filmmakers like John Akomfrah, Apuchatpong Weerasethakul and Pippilotti Rist.
Laura went freelance in 2010. She has steadily stalked filmmaker Terence Davies, making a BBC Documentary on Of Time and the City and an in-depth interview for Homotopia. She is the co-founder of Folken and an Awesome trustee. She works out of a shed, in a warehouse, surrounded by tech types and artists.
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.
Desmond Bullen is a graduate of the MA Screenwriting course at Salford University.
A mental health nurse, he has written for Roy Of The Rovers, Creative Tourist and Chapter & Verse.
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.
I was born and brought up in the Rossendale Valley and have recently graduated from Lancaster University – so I think it’s fair to say I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Lancashire. I’ve always been an enthusiastic writer and I love playing with the English language to create great pieces of writing. Alongside this, I have a passion for languages and am fluent in Spanish and (almost) in French so the next stop is naturally Italian, right? (most definitely a work-in-progress). At present I am working in Rossendale and, in my spare time, I love eating out and sampling the new eateries, bars and pubs that the Valley has to offer. I can regularly be seen out and about in the hills with my slightly loca springer spaniel, Maisie, and also trundling along in my recently purchased powder blue 54 plate Micra. Yes, the dent in your wheelie bin was my fault.
Paul Clark is a St Helens-based writer, freelance journalist, musician, and lecturer. He has previously worked as a sports journalist but these days is following his passion and writing more about music. He is an avid gig-goer and can often be found crate-digging in a number of the region’s record stores. He has just completed an MA in Creative Writing and is in the process of editing the novel produced on the course. When he’s not drafting/editing his novel, he has a keen interest in the theatre, literature, music, comedy, and poetry.
If his life wasn’t busy enough, Paul is currently trying to master the ukulele, although he has yet to learn a George Formby number which he realises is a major oversight for a uke player.
Katherine Clements is a novelist and award-winning short story writer specialising in historical fiction. Her debut novel, The Crimson Ribbon was published in 2014, followed by The Silvered Heart in 2015. She was born in Littleborough, Lancashire and grew up in Surrey and Sheffield. She studied Ancient History and Archaeology at Manchester University, followed by a move down south and a varied career in media, the charity sector and education. In 2014 she moved back to Manchester where the bleak northern landscape inspired her third novel, The Coffin Path, which will be published in February 2018.
Karen Connolly has been a journalist for thousands of years. She started her career on her home town’s paper, The Wigan Observer, and has been a crime reporter, business correspondent and, her favourite, music journalist in the 90s – a right indie kid at heart.
She’s now a regular on BBC Radio Manchester drive-time where she drones on about what’s trending. She’s also a contributor to regional and national press.
Music is still her passion and, after years of ‘being with the band’, she’s now the ‘mother of the lead guitarist’ of the band MazeBound.
Matthew Connolly was born in Manchester and lives in the Lake District. He trained as a journalist in London where he worked for a variety of newspapers including The Guardian, The Observer, the Evening Standard, The Sunday Times and The Times, where he was a classical music critic. Matthew’s first novel, Dances with the Daffodils (set at the time of the poet Wordsworth), was shortlisted for Lakeland Book of the Year and his latest novel, due out in 2018, is a contemporary recreation of Wuthering Heights. He is also writing a first book of poems and a novel set in Paris at the time of composer Claude Debussy. As a Lake District tortured artist in residence, Matthew plans to ‘re-wild’ the Lakes by introducing pretentious melancholia and bohemianism to some of its more conservative villages.
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.
Although born and raised in Birmingham, Paul has spent most of his adult life in the North West and is now settled in Manchester after living in Chester for 15 years.
As music editor for Fourculture magazine, he showcases new music as well as championing the classics. His passion for music sees him embracing many styles with an obsessiveness that could be healthy or unhealthy. Despite post-punk and electronica being his genres of choice, he’s equally at home writing an informed introduction to K-Pop or presenting a six-episode radio show on 1960s French Pop. With a worrying memory for the obscure he is an ideal pub quiz team member, once landing a job in a music retail store by simply coming first in a pop quiz each week.
As a singer/songwriter/producer he has graced many North West stages and has had airplay on BBC 6 Music. He also likes milkshakes.
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.
Stephen Etheridge’s musical career started as a trombonist in brass bands in Staffordshire. After A Levels, he packed a rucksack and headed for Leeds College of Music. Afterwards he spent many years as a trombonist in a number of jazz and pop bands (not always successfully) in the North. He discovered that his jazz and pop career funded call centre work. Stephen always had an interest in social history, and an opportunity arose to study an MA in Social and Cultural History at Leeds Metropolitan University. He returned to his brass band roots and his MA dissertation examined the brass bands of the Southern Pennines and their links with working class and Northern identity. Later, he was doctored in 2015. Stephen has published widely on the link between brass bands, the working class and the North. His current research is underscored by a belief that local and regional music-making is an under-explored area in understanding how working people lived their lives. Current research projects include rock and pop in the Rossendale Valley in the 1980s, jazz in a Staffordshire town in the 1950s, and women in brass and military bands, c 1940-1960.
When not being a historian, he can usually be found digging the allotment or trying to perfect his cookery techniques. Stephen enjoys listening to soul and funk music and, predictably, the brassier the better.
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 a 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 regularly writes herbal and foraging articles for her own page, Fleedneedles Forage. She also runs her own crafting business, Whiddershins Craft, supplying local shops with her handmade gifts and creations. In her spare time she is a vocal and acting coach.
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.
Mike Fotis is a Londoner by birth, but now lives and works in Newcastle city centre. He runs a start-up a called Smart Money People and is trying hard to avoid the daily temptation of a Greggs cheese and onion pasty. When not working, which isn’t that often, he enjoys comedy, walks along the coast, and watching old episodes of Spooks.
Mike has written for a range of publications including the Money Advice Service, ResPublica and Spectator Money. You may also see him handing out the odd award at events like the British Bank Awards and the Consumer Credit Awards.
Bernard Ginns is a director of www.branksomepartners.com, a communications advisory firm based in the North of England. He works with clients across a range of sectors including technology, engineering and healthcare. He is Visiting Fellow of Journalism at Leeds Business School and a member of the regional leadership group at Mosaic, a Prince’s Trust charity which inspires young people from deprived communities to realise their talents and potential.
Bernard served as Business Editor of the Yorkshire Post from 2008-16, leading the newspaper’s highly regarded business coverage and chairing the flagship Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards, attracting blue-chip sponsors and political speakers such as David Cameron and George Osborne. Previously, he was Editor of the award-winning new media start-up Kent on Sunday (2005-08) and a Reporter at The Mail on Sunday (2002-05), chasing stories across Britain, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Bernard started his journalism career at the London Newspaper Group and is a philosophy graduate of the University of Manchester. Outside of work, he enjoys squash, yoga, the outdoors and researching urban subcultures of the 1990s.
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.
Mohsin Iqbal is a freelance writer based in the North West. Raised in Manchester and having studied archaeology and classics, Mohsin has spent the last few years working in heritage in London until recently when he decided to return north. His interests include things that have been dead for a millennium or more, staring at ancient art, and constantly being on the hunt for the ever-elusive Kashmiri tea.
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.
Lucy McNamara is the producer and presenter of The Northern Soul Podcast. A freelance radio presenter, podcaster and voiceover artist, until recently Lucy was the Weekend Breakfast presenter at 2BR, Lancashire’s local commercial station. Lucy started out as a journalist 10 years ago and has worked for BBC Radio Leicester, Norfolk, Cambridge and Stoke, presenting, news reading and reporting.
Prior to 2BR she was BBC 6 Music’s regular cover for Elizabeth Alker’s music news on Radcliffe and Maconie. During her time at 6 Music she presented the music news on the Shaun Keaveny breakfast show and also took part in BBC Music Day appearing with Craig Charles. She has also assistant-produced for Guy Garvey and Marc Riley.
During her time covering music festivals for radio she has interviewed Nile Rodgers, Everything Everything, Jean Michel Jarre, Tim Burgess and many more musicians both national and international.
This is Lucy’s third series as the presenter and producer of The Northern Soul new music podcast. Lucy has made Manchester or perhaps more correctly ‘Stockport’ her home along with her family and continues to be a big champion of all things Northern.
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.
Michelle Nicholson is Northern Soul‘s Sports Correspondent. She was born in Finsbury Park. After a Legal Studies course at the University of Bedfordshire she travelled north with love in her heart and has remained here ever since. Previous roles have seen her as a children’s librarian, hostess at Ewood Park, and a sales executive for an educational computer supplier. For the past 14 years she has worked for charities and the arts.
Her interests include Batman, Arsenal and tattoos. She is partial to a long Dark & Stormy with extra lime.
Michelle can be found on Twitter @PurpleGooner ranting and cheering on her beloved Gunners.
Henry Normal was born in St Ann’s, Nottingham in 1956 and now lives in Brighton with his wife, the screenwriter Angela Pell, and their son, Johnny. He is a writer, poet, TV and film producer and founder of the Manchester Poetry Festival (now the Manchester Literature Festival), and co-founder of the Nottingham Poetry Festival.
In June 2017 he was honoured with a special BAFTA for services to television. Henry co-wrote and script-edited every episode of the multi-award winning Mrs Merton Show and the spin-off series Mrs Merton and Malcolm. He also co-created and co-wrote the first series of The Royle Family.
With Steve Coogan he co-wrote the BAFTA winning Paul and Pauline Calf Video Diaries, Coogan’s Run, Tony Ferrino, Doctor Terrible, and all three of Coogan’s live tours and the film The Parole Officer. Setting up Baby Cow Productions Ltd in 1999, Henry executive produced all, and script-edited many of the shows of its 17-and-a-half-year output during his tenure as MD. Highlights of the Baby Cow output during this time include Philomena, I believe in Miracles, Gavin and Stacey, Moone Boy, Uncle, Marion and Geoff, Nighty Night, The Mighty Boosh, Red Dwarf, Hunderby, Camping and Alan Partridge.
Since retiring in April 2016, Henry has written and performed two BBC Radio 4 shows, A Normal Family and A Normal Life, combining comedy, poetry and stories about bringing up his autistic son. He is currently writing a book on autism for Two Roads publishers, A Normal Family, drawing on his family experience. Henry performs poetry at literature festivals around the UK and has three poetry books out: Staring Directly at the Eclipse, Travelling Second Class Through Hope and Raining Upwards.
He was recently given a honorary doctorate of letter by Nottingham Trent University and has had a beer named after him in Nottingham.
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.
He has worked at the BBC, The Guardian, The Independent and the Manchester Evening News.
Phil has written five short plays, all of which have been performed in England and Ireland. From Barrow-in-Furness, he now lives in South Manchester.
When he grows up, Colin plans to write meaningful feature pieces about Northern folk – and what they get up to. While working as a lecturer in the North East he was inspired by the work the creative community were doing to record the lives of ‘ordinary people’, and this was the inspiration for his own embryonic project, From the Pennines to the Sea, a digital archive capturing something of life in the North now.
When not writing for regional titles or loitering around the School of Journalism at a well-known Northern university, he can be found on a hillside in Nidderdale where he is generally given the run-around by family members and assorted livestock. His interests include social justice, youth and community engagement, the arts and cakes of various types.
What he says about himself: “The opportunity to capture the stories of others is a privilege.” What others say about him: “His agitation peaks when the council change the recycling collection day because of a bank holiday.”
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.
Rachael Richards is an award-winning PR Manager with 12 years of PR experience, working both in-house and for agencies.
She has worked with a wide variety of clients including Manchester Pride, the RNCM, LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre and Love Hearts sweets, gaining coverage on Daybreak, The Jonathan Ross Show, ITV News at 10, The Sun, The Mirror and The Telegraph.
Rachael has a passion for the arts and has lectured in music PR at BIMM Manchester (The British and Irish Modern Music Institute). Having previously worked promoting established acts such as Echobelly and Mike Joyce from The Smiths, she used this experience to help the college’s young musicians publicise their work.
Born and raised on a farm in mid-Wales, Rachael moved to Manchester 14 years ago and has always been an avid supporter of the city’s cultural scene. As a former arts reviewer at Large magazine and Chimp, she regularly attends theatres, arts centres, galleries, gigs and festivals around the North West.
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.
Frances Scott is a graduate of the MA Contemporary Literature and Film course at Manchester Metropolitan University. As a content writer, she has worked with The Nubian Times and frequently posts theatre reviews on her website www.101Frances.com. You can also follow her on Instagram (101Frances) and Twitter (@FrancesScott1).
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 was 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 is Northern Soul‘s Theatre Editor. He 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.
Paddy Wells is a musician and freelance writer specialising in music, film and culture. His features, reviews and interviews have been published online and in a range of international publications including Classic Rock, The Blues, Planet Rock and Vintage Rock and Country. He was online editor of bluesandsoulshow.com from 2014-16.
Paddy has been singing and playing harmonica for almost three decades. During seven years as frontman of Leeds-based Chicago blues band Poorboy, he appeared at most of the major blues festivals in the UK and supported the likes of Paul Jones, Mick Ralphs and Mud Morganfield. Paddy has performed in the blues clubs of Chicago, played with top musicians in Austin and New Orleans and made a special guest appearance at the world-famous Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale MS.
He’s now a member of the long-running, highly regarded band, Crosscut Saw, bringing his unique sound to their hard-driving, rootsy blues. He conducts session work and gigs regularly with The Dave Hanson Band, appearing on Hanson’s latest album, Almost Horizontal.
Originally from Hull, Paddy is now based in Leeds where he works as writer and copy editor for travel, arts and culture website The Culture Trip and spends most of his time staring out of the window. Check out his music and writing at paddywells.com or find him on social media.
Lara Williams is a writer based in Manchester. She has written for The Guardian, The Independent, New Scientist, New European, Times Literary Supplement, Dazed & Confused, Vice, Munchies, Wired, Oh Comely, and many others.
Her debut short story collection Treats was published by Freight Books in 2016, and was published in the US by Flatiron in October 2017 under the title A Selfie As Big As The Ritz. Her novel Supper Club is forthcoming in Spring 2019 from Hamish Hamilton (UK) and Putnam & Sons (US).
Originally from Essex, Lizzie moved to Nottingham to study Ancient History before slowly gravitating further North and settling in Manchester to start life as a PR at Fourth Day. With a passion for food, fashion, gigs and art, Lizzie has written for titles including Creative Tourist, Made in Shoreditch and Northern Soul.
Fran Yeoman spent more than a decade on national newspapers before returning to her native Liverpool in 2016 to join John Moores University as Senior Lecturer in Journalism. Before that, she was Assistant Editor of i, where she oversaw the paper’s news output. She previously worked for The Independent and The Times as a news editor and reporter, and spent a year as a political reporter based at Westminster. She has reported from countries including Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Greece and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and co-authored a Rough Guide to South America.
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