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OK, by now I hope you know that I’m a copywriter, based in Cornwall, with plenty of experience and a successful track record in what I do. But behind everyone you work with is a person and a personality, and I’d like to tell you a few random facts about myself that might help you to know me better.

I once discovered a new worm

In one of my zoology degree projects I examined a number of museum ‘type specimens’ of pentastomid worms to check they had been described and classified correctly in the scientific literature. One jar turned out to contain two species, one of which had never been described by science. I don’t know what species name it was eventually given by my supervisor but its first name was Elenia.

I have a Blue Peter badge

While working for Cornwall Wildlife Trust as its Education and Publicity Manager I regularly did TV and radio interviews. One of the most memorable was in the Blue Peter garden, where I talked to Richard Bacon about frogs. A high point of my visit to the BBC TV Centre was meeting the Blue Peter dogs, Bonnie and Mabel.

I used to be a single parent

I was a single parent for nine years, bringing my son up from the age of eight to seventeen. Then we made a home with my lovely wife and her two daughters. They are all grown up now.

I am a Geordie

Sadly I lost my accent over the years, but I was born in Newcastle, brought up in Whitley Bay and left the area at 18. I’m very proud of being from Newcastle, although it causes me pain most weeks when I hear the football results.

I was Chair of Cornwall Wildlife Trust

I worked for the Trust until 2002, when I changed career direction to become a writer in the industrial sector. It seemed a shame not to use the knowledge I had gained, so I volunteered to be a Trustee in 2004. I was Chairman from 2013 to 2018, then Vice-President, and the term of my Trusteeship ran out in 2021 .

My wife and I are Special Guardians

For various reasons we ended up being the legal guardians of our granddaughter, who was born in May 2014. The Special Guardianship Order essentially means that we have gone back to bringing up a young child. We’d forgotten how much hard work it is, but it’s a great joy at the same time.

I have had the same bike since 1970

I inherited a Flying Scot racing bike from my Auntie Margaret when I was ten years old. Although it was built in 1954, the lightweight Reynolds tubing of the frame still compares well with modern materials. Over the years I’ve had to replace most components, at least once, so now it’s fitted mainly with Shimano parts. I’ve been keen on cycling all my life, having started before lycra was even invented, but I don’t get out much these days due to time pressures.

I am a reptile, amphibian and pond specialist

Many people of my age have childhood memories of playing around ponds and catching newts in jars. I didn’t start doing that until I was 23, when I landed a job studying the great crested newt. Once you’ve worked with amphibians and reptiles you’re hooked, and I’ve retained an active interest in herpetology ever since.

I love my MG

From the time I learned to drive at 17 I always longed for an MG. I finally treated myself to one for my 50th birthday. Her name is Hotty, which is a very rough approximation of what her number plate looks like when read backwards.


I have something in common with Adrian Mole

In one of Sue Townsend’s books, ‘Adrian Mole: The Wilderness years’, Adrian gets a job as a newt conservation officer. A few years earlier I was working on my MPhil newt project at Leicester Polytechnic, funded by the Nature Conservancy Council. It largely involved generating local and national publicity, asking people to send in their newt sightings. It’s tempting to believe that the author, who also lived in Leicester, might have heard of the survey in the local news.

I have a raspberry-related injury

As a student, I once took a summer job in raspberry-freezing factory in Scotland. I suffered quite a serious frostbite injury to my hands which left me in bandages and slings for several weeks. I was awarded £1,000 in compensation, which was a lot of money for a student in 1980. The deepest ‘burn’ was in one of my little fingers, which has had a thin skin and an arthritic kind of swelling ever since.

I invented jellied curry

When I was 18, I won a Rowntree’s Jelly recipe competition. The prize was a chest freezer. My recipe involved making a curry, adding orange jelly to it and leaving the mixture to set. I never actually made it, but when Rowntree produced a book of the best recipes it was pictured on the cover.

My wellies may be older than you

In 1979, after a very wet and cold field course on the isle of Arran, I reluctantly spent some of my student grant on a pair of wellies. I still wear them.

I have been picked out in an identity parade

In Dundee, the police would sometimes come to the university and ask students to make up the numbers in identity parades. On one occasion a witness confidently pointed me out as the person guilty of various property-related crimes.