Northern Soul

Who we are


Helen Nugent

Helen NugentHelen 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, Big Issue North, the Yorkshire Post, The Spectator, the British Theatre Guide, and The Journal of Trading Standards. 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

Helen has appeared on Sky News, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Merseyside, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC World Service, talkRadio and GB News. She regularly chairs conferences and events for, among others, Penguin, HOME, and The Lowry. She was also a Guest Lecturer at Westminster University in the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication, and a Guest Lecturer at City University. At present, she teaches Music Journalism at the University of Salford, and has previously taught Political Reporting at the University of Huddersfield. In 2017, she was shortlisted for Person with Purpose at the Northern Power Women Awards. Helen also chairs events for the Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival and for literature events run by Trafford Libraries. In 2019, she was a judge for the HWA Gold Crown Awards which recognise the best historical novels published in the UK. 

Feel free to drop her a line at or via the contacts page. All correspondence is welcome, particularly if you would like to share a magical Northern experience.


Carole Baldock

Widely published with enough poems over the years to fill a drawer, Carole Baldock has a pamphlet, BITCHING, and a poetry collection, Give Me Where to Stand (Headland) to her name. Her other books include Writing Reviews and How To Raise Confident Children, and she is also the editor of Orbis, an international literary journal of more than 50 years standing. Over the past umpteen years, her work has been published by The Stage, WhatsOnStage, the BBC, the Liverpool Echo and the Manchester Evening News. And Northern Soul, of course.


Simon Belt

Simon BeltSimon 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 to make better use of technology through his company, Simply Better IT. 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.



Megan Bond

Megan Bond is a passionate fan of the arts and music with a bubbly character which pours through her work. She is currently an undergraduate broadcast journalism student at Salford University. So far this year, she has featured on Shock Radio (a student radio) and Tameside Radio. Follow her on Instagram at and Meg_bondshockradio



Kevin Bourke

Kevin Bourke is a writer and broadcaster. He 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 Big Issue NorthSonglines, the roots music magazines R2 and No Depression and many other magazines and websites here and in the US. 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. 

Marissa Burgess

Marissa BurgessMarissa Burgess 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. 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 OutChortle comedy website,Big Issue NorthManchester Confidential and The List. In addition, she has made many TV and radio appearances.

Desmond Bullen 


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.



Nancy Collantine

Nancy CollantineNancy Collantine used to work in public relations until she left Manchester to live in Queensland in 2017, which is when her love of painting became a full-time preoccupation. She is now back in Manchester doing painting and site-specific art and continues to write on the side. She is currently a Turps Banana student of painting and runs an artist-led temporary exhibition programme called Dez-Rez Projects.


Karen Connolly

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.

Cathy Crabb

Cathy Crabb

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. She also 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 wrote The F**k It List – a sit-com with actor Sally Carman, another musical with Lindsay Williams, further poetry collections, and various other works. 

Damon Fairclough

Damon Fairclough

Damon Fairclough is 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. Find his portfolio at, stalk him on twitter by following @noiseheatpower or, failing that, simply whisper rumours about him when he’s out of the room.

Susan Ferguson 

Susan Ferguson 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


Claire Fleetneedle

Claire Fleetneedle is a foraging enthusiast who has been writing about free food and herbalism for almost a decade. She has a particular fascination with using local wild plants as both edibles and remedies. As the cost-of-living crisis bites, and with free healthcare seemingly soon to be a thing of the past, she seeks to revive and share a largely forgotten herblore. In her day job she is a voice, elocution and dialect coach at She is also an audio and voiceover artist.


Bernard Ginns

Bernard Ginns

Bernard Ginns is a director of, a communications advisory firm based in the North of England. 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. 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. 

Jasmine Grimshaw

Jasmine Grimshaw is a keen fan of music and theatre and an eager concertgoer. She displays her passion for her favourite subjects through her work. Jasmine is about to start her third year of study as an undergraduate multimedia journalism student at the University of Salford. Her work features on Salford Now. She hopes to create articles that inspire and help others. You can keep up with her via Instagram: @jasminesjournalism or @jasminegrimshaw_


Molly Haddock

Molly Haddock is a passionate writer and is particularly interested in music, culture, and all things arty. She is eager to share the voices of others in her writing and aims to shine a light on opinions less heard. She is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at the University of Salford, featuring on Salford Now and Quays News.



Robert Hamilton

Robert HamiltonRobert Hamilton is Northern Soul‘s Opera Correspondent and our man about town, Hamiltonic. He was born in Belfast and has lived and worked in Manchester for many years. Prior to retirement, Robert lectured in World Cinema at Manchester Metropolitan University. 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 wrote for the late and lamented City Life as well as Artscribe, Aspects and Cut Magazine. He also wrote an award-winning blog, Around the World in 80 Dinners, and is a founding member of the Chinese Film Forum, UK

Chris Holmes

As Northern Soul‘s Football Correspondent, Chris Holmes spends too much time getting angry about things which don’t matter while skewering the many-headed beast forming the North’s Premier League clubs. An ex-marketing manager, he recently jumped off the cliff of full-time employment and is now scrabbling in the foothills of freelancing as a content, copy and speechwriter. In his native habitat, he can be found listening to obscure psych rock bands who look like that guy in the corner of every pub, an image which equally applies when Chris looks in the mirror.

Paul Hunter

Paul HunterPaul 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.

Lucy McNamara

Lucy McNamara was the producer and presenter of The Northern Soul Podcast. A freelance radio presenter, podcaster and voiceover artist, 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.

Danny Moran

Danny Moran was 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

Andy MurrayAndy 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 Big Issue 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.

Henry Normal

Henry Normal at his Brighton home, East Sussex, UK Picture by Jim HoldenHenry Normal 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

Charlotte Oliver

Charlotte Oliver is a writer/poet who lives in Yorkshire. She regularly writes for a number of magazines including The Dalesman and Yorkshire LifeCharlotte is BBC Radio York’s Saturday Poet Laureate and her poems have been published widely, including with iambapoetDream Catcher, The Yorkshire Post, Green Teeth, Ice Floe, Black Bough, Cape, Spelt and Fevers of the Mind. She runs workshops and also accepts poetry commissions, most recently from the BBC and South Cliff Gardens Heritage Restoration Project, Scarborough. How To Be A Dressing Gown is Charlotte‘s debut poetry collection (published by Dreich) and her latest project is a radio ballad called The Dark Store, written with composer Sarah Dew and funded by the Arts Council England. Twitter: @charlotteolivr, IG: charlotteoliverpoet, website:

Lewis Palmer

Lewis Palmer Profile PhotoLewis 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 ( He is also an avid fan of Instagram. @lewispalmerphoto



Chris Park

Chris ParkChris 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 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 

Phil Pearson

Phil Pearson is a journalist and playwright, living in South Manchester. He has worked at the BBCThe GuardianThe Independent and the Manchester Evening News as a sub-editor, writer and online reporter. He was also Deputy Editor of the North West Evening Mail in his birthplace of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Phil has written two full-length and 11 short plays, all of which have been performed in England and Ireland. His play Blackpool, What A Shit Place To Die toured extensively in 2019.


Phil Pounder

Phil PounderPhil 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. Phil can be found on twitter @glasses502.



Wendy Pratt

Wendy PrattWendy Pratt was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire in 1978. 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 began 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. Her first full-size collection, Museum Pieces, was launched in January 2014. You can find out more about Wendy on her website:

Sara Riccardi

Sara RiccardiSara is one of Northern Soul’s visual arts contributors. A passionate art historian from Rome, she’s now found her second home in the heart of Manchester. 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. 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. Follow Sara on Instagram: @sara_artacross

Rachael Richards 

Rachel Richards

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 ShowITV News at 10The SunThe 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. As a former arts reviewer at Large magazine and Chimp, she regularly attends theatres, arts centres, galleries, gigs and festivals around the North West.

Alfred Searls

Alfred Searls

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 his work has been published by the Catholic Herald and his short stories have been published in Metonym Literary JournalCinder Quarterly JournalJupiter MagazineDash Literary Journal, The Antonym Magazine and The Mallard

Steve Slack

Steve SlackSteve 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 about cultural stuff at He tweets as @steveslack and instagrams museum nonsense at @museumofsteve.


Bethany Smith

Bethany Smith is a trainee journalist and spare time musician. With a foundation degree in English and a background in music performance and songwriting, she loves sad songs, lyricism, and clever wording – especially witty one-liners. An avid believer in equality and inclusivity, she hopes to forge a career that can make a difference. She is currently entering her final year of a Multimedia Journalism course at the University of Salford. You can keep up with her work via Twitter @bethh_journo and Instagram @itsbethh_x


Jack Stocker

Jack StockerA 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 begun 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.

Amy Stone

Amy Stone lives and works in Sheffield. Her first novel, The Raven Wheel, was longlisted for the Arnold Bennett Literary Award 2020. Her second novel, Strong Stuff, has raised more than £3,000 for Roundabout, a South Yorkshire homelessness charity. Amy has also been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in the short story category and her first piece of flash fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2021 by Janus Literary. You can find Amy on Instagram and and Twitter.


Drew Tosh

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, 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. Two of his plays have been performed (Peg & Bessie and Physical) and a host of other writing projects are on the boil when his procrastination allows. His proudest NS moment to date is talking pelvic floor exercises with Lulu. He is the 2020 BBC Radio 2 PopMaster Champion of Champions, so all those formative years playing pop records weren’t wasted after all.

Chris Wallis

Chris WallisChris 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

Lisa Wood

Lisa Wood

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 sees herself as an adopted Mancunian. After fuelling her inner creative at Salford University, Lisa forged a 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. Lisa lives in Altrincham with her husband and two young daughters and works part-time looking after the PR and marketing for a global tech company.

Lizzie Wood

Lizzie Wood Originally from Essex, Lizzie Wood 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.



Emma Yates-Badley

Emma Yates-Badley 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. A social media addict, Emma can be seen tweeting nonsense @emmayatesbadley.



Fran Yeoman

Frances Yeoman headshotFran 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. Fran is currently Head of Journalism at Liverpool John Moores.