Born and brought up in rural County Durham in 1965, Teesdale to be exact, I went to Barnard Castle School, which I loved. After pretty poor A' Level results, I ended up taking a BA Honours degree in Geography at Sheffield City Polytechnic and spent 3 brilliant years there. Two years at Edinburgh University followed swiftly and a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture. I was then gainfully employed for just over 2 years in a small landscape architectural practice on the island of Jersey.
Returning to the mainland, I took up a post at Carlisle City Council for 8 years working in Parks and Countryside where my obsession with parks began, and where I was ultimately responsible for one of the first HLF Lottery funded park restorations at Hammond's Pond in Carlisle itself.
A return to the North-East saw me take over a Landscape and Countryside Development team at Middlesbrough Council and managing a vast range of projects including the £4.4 million HLF funded restoration of Albert Park and where I also built the biggest skatepark in the country. Eight years at Middlesbrough saw me move back into private practice with Halcrow Group Ltd, a global environmental and engineering consultancy where I was their "parks" expert, and over the 4 years saw me working from the Scottish Borders to the Isle of Wight with all my clients in the public sector.
However, a return to the public sector beckoned with a daring move south to take up a role as Head of Parks with Watford Borough Council - (no one moves south do they?) and they all thought I was mad. The role is now somewhat different, but I am still seen as their 'parks chief' and flying the flag for parks locally and hopefully nationally.
Throughout though, has been a growing passion for parks, and their history and evolution. An early morning shower (where often the best ideas are born) whilst still living in the North-East led to the idea of a book which had long been a desire - on a "history of the bandstand", generated by my involvement in the Albert Park restoration and the replacement of the bandstand there. "Bandstands" was ultimately published in 2011 by Shire Publishing and the move south generated further opportunities to write, and in particular on the Royal Parks of Regent's Park, Richmond Park for Amberley Publishing, and a new general history of them all for Shire. More books have followed. The bandstands obsession continues and has seen me appear in a BBC4 Documentary called 'Britain's Parks Story' with Dan Cruickshank, on the Simon Mayo drivetime show on BBC Radio 2 as well as recently published in the BBC Music Magazine (May 2014) and more recently on BBC Radio Wales, BBC London, BBC Three Counties, BBC Coventry and the scary heights of the Leighton Buzzard Observer.
Now living in Leighton Buzzard, I continue to write, and am still counting bandstands... oh as well as hold down a full time job...oh as well as keep my wife, Julie, and children, Ashley, Holly and Ellie entertained by my intermittent ramblings on all things geeky.
The writing and passion has also allowed me to do many public speaking engagements, in particular for local groups including the Association of Public Service Excellence, University of Leicester, Garden Trusts, Women's Institutes, Luton Museums, Watford Museum, U3A, Civic Societies, Local History Societies, Church groups etc... in fact anyone who wants to listen. I am now an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society too which I am very excited about.
Of course this website tells you a lot more about much of this but feel free to contact me about absolutely any of this.