Brexit looms ahead. Trump becomes Time magazine’s ‘Person Of The Year’. The diminishing shape and size of Toblerone will haunt us forever. Yet Roof ‘n’ Roots retains the same generous dimensions. I produced the winter edition of the newsletter for the Methodist Ministers’ Housing Society in time for Christmas 2016, so residents and their families […]
It was a straightforward PR push. But it had a nice spin-off. I was spearheading a campaign to promote an unusual online Advent calendar for the environment charity A Rocha UK.
I issued a press release and photograph of Dr Ruth Valerio, who had created the podcast-driven calendar. I included the usual national media contacts. But I also sent the story to Dr Valerio’s home territory of Sussex.
There was an instant flurry of interest. Suddenly, my press release was making the headlines across this most delightful part of southern England, where I had spent my formative years as a trainee journalist. The story appeared in my old newspaper ‘Littlehampton Gazette’. They even gave me a credit for the photo!
It was a delight to receive the commission from ‘Irish Music’ magazine, to interview John McSherry. So I drove to West Belfast, to meet this popular piper, who’s played for everyone from Rod Stewart to…Gary Kemp!
I turned down a little street, parked the car and went into John’s home. In a semi-rural part of the city, his terraced house has a rustic charm about it. And we talked for ages about music.
What was nice was that John took an interest in me and my own involvement in Irish music over the years – not on the same scale as him, of course! I’ve played in an Irish folk band in some rough pubs around southern England.
For a few years I served as Media Consultant for one of the biggest men’s conferences in Europe. ‘The Mandate’ was held at Belfast’s Waterfront and Odyssey venues. It was such an inspiring experience to hear thousands of blokes singing traditional hymns from the history and heritage of the Celtic lands – like ‘Be Thou My Vision’. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with ‘The Mandate’ and helped their team to create some professional PR and marketing products.
As Editor of ‘Christian Family’ Magazine (which later became PARENTWISE), I was invited to various events, TV programmes and radio stations to talk about family life. Here is one of those interviews, from 1990 with BBC Wiltshire – or Wiltshire Sound as it was then. I remember I was feeling quite unwell, had travelled by train to Swindon, and battled my way through this early morning Sunday programme. My voice might sound thin and frail, but we got there in the end! (Audio clip used by kind permission from ‘Morning Sunday’, BBC Wiltshire Sound (now BBC Wiltshire, bbc.co.uk/wiltshire), 1990.
My good friends and colleagues Mark and Mary Fleeson commissioned me to write some of the copy for their publication ‘The Holy Island Of Lindisfarne Pilgrim Guide’. I also did the PR for it. We launched the guide at the Christian Resources Exhibition, took some photos, and then I sent out press releases across the religious and trade press.
Mission Aviation Fellowship run a fleet of planes to take doctors and relief workers to remote regions so they can get to the people who need them most. I was asked to come up with a theme for a fund-raising campaign and write the literature. I imagined a quick guide showing supporters what the cost of normal luxury goods in the West could actually buy in the Rukwa Valley, Tanzania. They went for it!
World Vision called me. Could I edit a manual for them? Yes, of course. It was about including disability in development. Quite a specialist subject. How do you include the poorest of the poor in your work as a relief and development charity? We pressed on and produced a very commercial, professional product – both print and electronic – designed to be given away to teams across the globe as they sought to include people with disabilities in their work. Alongside a programme of associated workshops, ‘Travelling Together’ continues to change many lives.
As Editor of ‘Parentwise’ Magazine, my team and I came up with the idea of a nationwide initiative to celebrate family life. ‘A Day For The Family’ was a simple concept – to give churches and community groups a ready-to-use resource to help them stage their own local celebration. We produced a special pack and the idea spread to various places.
Having shared my own stories at schools, colleges and festivals, I decided to record a couple of them. So off I went to FEBA Radio’s studio, ably assisted by my good friend, radio presenter and producer Adrian Barnard. And here is a taster from one of those stories. Hope you enjoy this extract.
Storytelling at schools, colleges and festivals is one of the most challenging yet fulfilling things I’ve done. I decided to record a couple of stories of mine. Ably assisted by my good friend radio presenter and producer Adrian Barnard, I went into FEBA Radio’s studio. The resulting ‘storytape’ sold at events and gift shops all over the place. I hope you enjoy the extract!
I’d known for some years about Dave Markee. His name cropped up on many of the LPs in my collection since the 70s. Many will know him as a former member of the Eric Clapton Band. In the late 90s I tracked him down to his more recent role in running a church and a school in Croydon!