If I was a stick of rock there’d be two words running through the middle of me: Poetry and Community. I love writing, performing and reading poetry and a commitment to my local community is at the heart of the voluntary work that’s run alongside school, university and work for almost 40 years. I’ve volunteered in a hospice, a homeless shelter and taken on management and committee roles for community radio stations in London and Cambridge as well as Cruse Bereavement Care in the North East.

Community Radio was part of my life for almost a decade. I volunteered for then managed Riverside Radio, Charing Cross Hospital’s patient radio station in Hammersmith. Then I moved to Cambridge and helped run as well as produce and present a programme on 209radio. Happy times

Seven years after moving back to the North East, I set up The North Tyneside Writers’ Circle with Jennifer C Wilson in 2016 in order to help local writers on a voluntary basis in our regular sessions. We also ran events to showcase local writing talent. These included Pure Fiction and The Pot Luck Club.

Another project, one of my favourites, was working with Ali Finlayson, the Shiremoor Scribblers, Sandy Chadwin and North Tyneside Libraries to realise the afternoon event Meet the Poets: Ali Finlayson and Friends in November 2019.

Poetry and Community form the foundation of my work with artist Gail Curry. I’m proud to be a Director of her business Happy Planet Studio and Gallery based in Whitley Bay’s Ilfracombe Gardens. It was a shared love of poetry that cemented our friendship and as a result we organised Poetry with Friends, informal poetry appreciation sessions for anyone who fancied coming along. Over time the meetings were more “life appreciation” than “poetry appreciation” and what we talked about between the poems made the sessions magical.

We no longer meet every fortnight for Poetry with Friends but we stay in touch with each other. That’s what friends are for.