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 also spent 18 months 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 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 and events for, among others, Penguin, Wordfest, HOME, CityCo, The Lowry , Virgin Money and Tech Nation. Helen is a panellist at events around the North and hosts award ceremonies as well as Google Hangouts. She was also a Guest Lecturer at Westminster University in the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication and at City University. At present, she teaches Music Journalism at the University of Salford. In 2017, she was shortlisted for Person with Purpose in the Northern Power Women Awards.
In 2017, Helen established Northern Soul Events. Along with her team, she hosted the inaugural Northern Soul Awards at Manchester Hilton. The 2018 awards were held at Manchester Cathedral. She is also launching The Proper Northern Drinks Festival. In addition, Helen chairs events for the annual Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival and hosted the 2018 Food Awards England. In 2019, she was a judge for the HWA Gold Crown Awards which recognise the best historical novels published in the UK. Most recently, Helen was Editor of Nuclear Future.
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 includes helping to spearhead the Northern Soul Awards 2018 as well a whole host of other great ideas we’re rolling out soon. A social media addict, Emma can be seen taking snaps of her housemate’s dog on Instagram and tweeting nonsense @emmayatesbadley.
Lynne Bateson is an award-winning British journalist, media consultant, and former national newspaper executive. 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.
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.
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.
Chef Tony is a gastronome with 20 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.
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.
Lucy Clayton is a third year Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Salford. A proud Geordie at heart, despite lacking the accent, Lucy has a passion for all things North East, from Northumberland’s rolling hills and picturesque coastline to Newcastle’s vibrant clubbing scene.
Specialising in travel writing, Lucy is a scriptwriter for Love it Book it, promoting the latest worldwide cruises. She has also contributed to Salford Now and Quays News throughout her studies. A lover of theatre, music and good food, you may find her at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal before a night out on the Bigg Market, and having worked as a bar waitress for three years, she definitely knows her bevs.
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.
Mark Connors is Northern Soul‘s Poetry Correspondent. He is an award-winning writer from Leeds and has had more than 150 poems published in magazines, anthologies and webzines.
Mark’s debut poetry pamphlet, Life is a Long Song, was published by OWF Press in 2015. His first full-length collection, Nothing is Meant to be Broken, was published by Stairwell Books in 2017. His second poetry collection, New Ways of Looking at Light, will be published in 2019 by YAFFLE. A joint collection, Reel Bradford, written with fellow writers from the team behind poetry publishers, YAFFLE, in partnership with Bradford City of Film, will also be published in 2019. Mark’s debut novel, Stickleback was published by Armley Press in 2016. Stickleback was long-listed for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. His second novel, Tom Tit and the Maniacs, was published by Armley Press in 2018. It was selected as one of Culture Vulture’s novels of the year.
Mark’s award-winning short fiction has won him prizes and commendations at North London Literature Festival, Dartmoor Literature Festival and Otley Word Feast. Mark also won the open mic competition at Ilkley Literature Festival in 2014 and 2015. He features regularly as a guest compere at literature festivals and also runs WORD CLUB, his own poetry night, at The Chemic Tavern in Leeds with his partner Gill Lambert and co-runs Shaken in Sheeptown in Skipton. Mark and Gill also run a monthly poetry radio show on Chapel FM. Mark is a founding creative partner of Poetry at the Parsonage, an annual poetry festival with the Brontë Society in Haworth. Mark is the managing editor of the independent poetry publishers, YAFFLE, and a writing workshop facilitator and is training to be a bibliotherapist.
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.
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 Northern Soul‘s Gardening Correspondent. She is also a voice, public speaking and acting coach. In her spare time she 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.
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.
Susan Ferguson has lived in Birmingham, Manchester, Barcelona and London. She has picked strawberries in Norway, olives in Spain, vegetables in Bolivia and fights in bars. She has worked in nightclubs, schools, galleries, offices, archaeological digs, shops and marquees.
She cut her journalistic teeth on Debris magazine and after a 30-year hiatus is back. When she is not travelling, Susan divides her time between Salford and Manchester.
She is a minor player in her own life story. Follow her on Instagram @sferg10
Georgina Gilbert is an aspiring journalist with ambitions to work in the music and arts industries. Originally from Worcester (yes, where the sauce is made), she is currently studying a degree in Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, with a drive to embrace the expansive arts culture of Manchester and the North.
In her short yet promising career, Georgina’s passion has already led her to Hollywood film sets in the Northern Quarter and interviews with actors in the upcoming film, The Batman (2022).
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.
A lifelong runner and sports enthusiast, Jan has been the Racing Correspondent for the Chester Chronicle for more than 20 years and has been part of several successful racehorse syndicates, ensuring she is close to the live action. Jan describes herself as a citizen of the world who enjoys photographing ginnels and skimming stones into the sea – anywhere in the world, but particularly on a sparsely populated beach in the North of England. She is challenged in this activity as a left-hander.
Jan believes that education has the potential to change lives and she continues to lecture and supervise business and management students with career ambition, and develop her own research which builds on her doctorate subject of exemplary business performance. Jan is an engaging speaker and recent engagements include International Women’s Day when she objectified the cover of the multi-million selling album Born in the USA, much to the amusement of the audience. She also introduced the Leadership 4.0 programme for the Chartered Management Institute and has won the Owain Glyndŵr Society prize for her contributions to education, enterprise, teaching and learning.
Jan tweets via: @Dixie_Akhdarra
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.
Adam Jacot de Boinod
Adam Jacot de Boinod worked on the first series of the television panel game QI. After leaving, he began to investigate other languages, examining 280 dictionaries and 140 websites. This led to the creation of his first book of three in 2005, The Meaning of Tingo, featuring words that have no equivalent in the English language.
He is now a regular international travel writer and luxury hotel reviewer, having written for the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph and numerous travel print and website publications.
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.
After being born in Kendal, Stephen Lucas misspent his youth in the town. He cut his rookie journo teeth in London on the Ham&High. While there, he moonlighted for the gay press, secured five minutes with Tilda Swinton and stage-dived at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. These were separate jobs (according to Stephen).
Shaun Lyon was born and grew up in West Lancashire. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music and City University. As composer and lyricist he was a runner-up in The Times‘ first Christmas Carol Competition, and in 2012 won the first Anthony Burgess/Observer Prize for Arts Writing. He currently lives in exile in the South.
Marc is a professional photographer and contributing writer for Northern Soul based in York. Originally from Manchester, he has lived and worked in California, France and London before returning to the North. With a business background in global sales, service, environment and sustainability, Marc has flourished by capturing his love for music and creative people in concert, promotional and event photography, as well as writing about some of the interesting people and places this introduces him to.
Music, football and social history are three of his passions, all (he suspects) with roots originating in being born and raised in Manchester. He works and attends a lot of gigs and loves a wide range of musical genres, but a personal highlight for a Mancunian music fan had to be having one of his shots published in Johnny Marr’s autobiography Set The Boy Free. Regular visits back to favourites like the Apollo and Night & Day, plus a season ticket at the Etihad, mean he’s also something of an expert in the vagaries of the M62, for better or worse.
Check out Marc’s photography at www.yellowmustang.co.uk and follow his words and photos on Instagram: @marcatyellowmustang
Jack McKinnell is a third year Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Salford. If there’s an indie gig going on in Manchester, the chances are that Jack is there. With a passion for music, Jack reviews live music, songs and albums as well as hosting Shock Radio’s Guest List, a show where the guests pick the songs that narrate their life. The show won Best Specialist among the Shock community.
Jack has covered stories around music. He’s also reported from court and attended the National Skateboarding Championships as well as a range of other news stories. Jack’s favourite thing to do is interview and you can see his journalism journey through most of his social media.
Lucy McNamara used to be 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.
Danny Moran is Northern Soul‘s Manchester Correspondent. Born in Radcliffe, he’s been a bartender, a life model, a musician and a journalist, contributing to City Life, Dazed & Confused, Attitude, The Face, Manchester Confidential, Guardian Guide and The Express.
Andy Murray is Northern Soul‘s Music & 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.
Charlotte Oliver (@CharlotteOlivr) found her way home to Yorkshire 15 years ago following adventures in Liverpool, London, Brazil and a bit more in London. National Youth Theatre-trained with an English degree from Liverpool University and a Masters in Phonetics and Phonology from York University, Charlotte has enjoyed an unusual career path. She has spent time in video production, writing, TEFL, the NHS and mime, with writing finally winning out. Currently writing reviews for On: Yorkshire and features for The Dalesman, Charlotte’s work has also appeared in Yorkshire Life. She has many scripts and stories on the go and regularly attempts poetry. Charlotte abridges classic novels for the tiny and beautiful Dinner Theatre Company in her beloved Scarborough, and is never happier than when by or in the sea, preferably with a gin and her family close by. She tries (and regularly fails) to keep www.charlotteoliver.com up-to-date.
Lewis Palmer is a photographer based in Newcastle upon Tyne with varied interests including commercial, event and concert photography. His photography blog and favourite images are available on his website (www.lewispalmerphotography.co.uk).
He is also an avid fan of Instagram. @lewispalmerphoto
Chris Park has been writing for Northern Soul for five years and in that time he has sat in Vera Duckworth’s living room and propped up the bar in The Woolpack, met Postman Pat and discovered a love of Victorian gangs. But his finest moment was reporting on Bet Lynch opening a bathroom showroom in B&Q. Who knows what the future will hold?
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 as well as a bit of blogging on the side.
Chris enjoys all things cultural from theatre to gigs to reading and is trying to love gardening but it is proving elusive. @parkslifeblog
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.”
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 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.
A keen communicator, Sara is deeply committed to sharing art, culture and history with as wide a public as possible. Founder of Art Across, she promotes visual arts from the past and present in interactive and unexpected ways. Devoted to her passion, Sara lends her enthusiasm and love for the arts to any new venture – she’s collaborated with a variety of brilliant artists including Steven Heaton, Nicola Dale, Christopher Cook, Halima Cassell and many more.
Currently pursuing her passion through PhD research at MMU, Sara is thrilled to participate in Manchester’s lively art scene; from contrasting architectural styles to the warm welcoming smiles of its people, the city has meant more for her than she ever imagined. Female entrepreneur, curator, performer, horse lover, wellbeing fanatic and coffee obsessed, she’s still working on her contradictory relationship with British rain.
Follow Sara on Instagram: @sara_artacross
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.
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.
Elsewhere he writes for the Catholic Herald and his short stories have been published in Metonym Literary Journal, Cinder Quarterly Journal, Jupiter Magazine and Dash Literary Journal.
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.
Hayley-Jane Sims is a writer and communications specialist. As a writer, her sitcom Canal Street was developed by cofilmic and Michael Jacob and was showcased in Manchester with compèring provided by Aisling Bea. She has also been a storyliner on long-running Channel 4 soap, Hollyoaks, and worked as a broadcast assistant at the BBC.
As a communications specialist, she plays a key role in delivering The University of Manchester’s multi-award-winning alumni volunteering programmes, including leading on innovative stewardship programmes for alumni volunteers. She is also host of the Your Manchester Stories podcast, which celebrates the lives and achievements of the university’s graduates, and has interviewed notable alumni such as writer/comedian Ben Elton and Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook.
Lyndsey Skinner is 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.
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 charity fundraising. After a 15-year career in theatre/arts marketing and PR in Scotland, promoting everything from Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Andy Warhol exhibitions to the World Pipe Band Championships and the Great Scottish Run, Drew upped sticks for Manchester.
As well as Northern Soul, Drew has written for several other titles and is a regular panellist on BBC Radio Manchester. He has written two plays which have been performed, Peg & Bessie and Physical, a novel (in a state of endless editing) and is currently having a crack at a musical.
Drew believes that Kate Bush should be made Queen, macaroni cheese should be available on the NHS and that a bowl of trifle heals all.
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.
More than two decades ago, Lisa Wood left the sleepy town of Leek for the bright lights of Manchester and has never looked back. She now sees herself as an adopted Mancunian. After fuelling her inner creative at Salford University, Lisa forged an interesting and varied career in the world of PR and marketing and had a ball spending eight years building the global brand for MediaCityUK, where she fought off the national tabloids on a daily basis with their ‘North bashing’ and organised high-profile events including the official opening with The Queen.
She now juggles family life with looking after the PR for a digital health company and supporting her husband in building his animation business. Lisa lives in Timperley with her husband and young daughter, Sienna, and when not at work she can either be found in a spin studio, sweating in a hot yoga class, listening to a good podcast, baking or sharing details of her love of interiors on Instagram. She loves the great outdoors and often spends weekends exploring what’s on her doorstep or, if feeling lazy, socialising with friends over a good glass of wine. Lisa is also an avid theatre-goer and has been known to ‘tread the boards’ in a number of amateur productions.
Lizzie Wood is Northern Soul‘s Travel Editor. 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.
- “Come for the machetes, stay for the political insights.” Author David Nolan talks to Northern Soul about his new book
- Photo Gallery: The Fenwick Christmas Window, Newcastle
- Good News in Focus: Manchester Camerata
- “There remains a perception that people in the North wear cloth caps and go off to the mill.” Campaigner and former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal
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This year the countdown to #Christmas from the Royal Exchange Theatre will be filled with stories that celebrate the streets and voices of Greater Manchester in All I Want For Christmas. It begins tomorrow! @rxtheatre twitter.com/rxtheatre/stat…
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From the archives: The current COVID-19 pandemic may see us turning to the big names to secure our reading fix but there are smaller businesses in our region which desperately need our support. This #BlackFriday, why not buy from Northern Indies instead? northernsoul.me.uk/how-are-in… pic.twitter.com/UFbXkmdxmB