I have worked in the media, print, radio and television for 40 years and now specialise in web broadcasting. In October 2015 my www.parliamentaryradio.com team won an Honourable Mention in the IAWRT (International Association of Women in Radio and TV) awards. We were the only UK winner.
My career in journalism began on the East Anglian Daily Times in Ipswich, where my first day at work was spent on strike. The NUJ, which normally would not take on new members for some time, enrolled me at the front door of the building before I even stepped in, fearing that I might break the picket lines and go to work. Not wanting to be called "a scab" I duly joined the NUJ. Management was not pleased. My career has been "tricky" ever since!
I proceeded to report the winner of the Suffolk Show's "Fur and Feather" event as "Cheeky" when the said bird was called "Chirpy" and its owner complained and demanded a retraction. Tears in the news editor's office followed and I apologised in print. I have always checked my facts diligently ever since. Even budgerigars have readers.
A few months into my career as the Women's Page Editor on the EADT, I complained to the Editor that I was bored (women only covered weddings then, men covered crime), and given that I was born and raised at Sizewell, home of numerous nuclear power stations, he appointed me as its Nuclear Energy Correspondent saying "you live there you must know a lot about it"! I have since fulfilled eight correspondents' roles in journalism.
After having three young children, a consistent joy to me throughout life, I returned part-time as a journalist for the Cheltenham Journal, a weekly paper as the Daily paper was not allowed to employ journalists part-time, the Unions prevented it. I proceeded to break more stories than the Daily, who entered an informal agreement to run my stories, even though they weren't allowed to employ me.
I then reported for the Cambridge Evening News, the BBC in the East, local radio and TV, and went on to help set-up BBC News 24 which was a particularly "tricky" and "thorny" assignment and a "gagging order" came with my redundancy as did an eventual official "apology" – that meant a lot! I cared about the careers of those talented journalists I managed in rolling news, who now report from all over the World!
My roles as a specialist correspondent reporting on-air have been various. Within the BBC I fulfilled six correspondent's positions including Social Affairs Editor, Home Affairs Editor, Education Correspondent, Local Government Correspondent, and Political Editor. I have also worked as a freelance for BBC Radio 4. My ability to grasp facts, provide a speedy synopsis, and ask quick witted questions while leading a team of others is frequently praised and commented on. I've stuck to and honed my humble reporting skills and now enjoy mentoring high-flyers in the same.
Over 45 years of age and earning over 45,000 in journalism always meant my redundancy was inevitably on the cards. Not able to get anyone to employ me as management tests frequently pointed to my creativity being "off the richter scale", and slightly fed up with so many rejections, necessity became the mother of invention and I set up one of the first broadcast online podcast channels: Women's Parliamentary Radio (www.wpradio.co.uk) with the support of senior women MPs in the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet across party.
In 2008 I was voted "One of the most influential women in Britain" by Public Policy Magazine. In January 2009 I was awarded an OBE for "Services to Broadcasting and PR". Clearly another mistake and a retraction will quickly follow but no birds seen hovering over this awards ceremony. The Queen was most interested in the work of www.wpradio.co.uk. and had the presence of mind to ask me: "What exactly do you do?" I had thought of the answer to that question and replied: "I know you email your grandsons Ma'am, well I broadcast through the web!" She got it and spoke to me at length. I didn't fall over with the curtsey, my adult children had thought I was bound to. No embarrassment there but again quite tricky!
I am also known for my work at a senior level nationally for local authorities, charities and MPs helping train them and campaign on behalf of the interests they represent, devising strategies and helping them achieve their goals through the use of media and new media. I have also sat on PTAs and Parish Councils. I am now bell ringing – "you can take the girl out of Suffolk but you can't take Suffolk out of the girl", as they say!
I have now taken my news gathering and documentary making skills into new media broadcasting through the web interviewing some of the most senior decision makers and leaders in the UK and internationally today in politics, business, economics, finance and science at Cambridge University.
- June 2014: Policy Associate, Centre for Business Research, Cambridge University
- Autumn 2011: CISD Research Associate at Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, School of Oriental and African Studies, London
- Summer 03: Chosen and trained to be lay-member Home Office selection panels helping to recruit Chief Prison Officers, Chief Fire Officers and Chief Constables through the high potential development scheme.
- In 1993: I was Elected Education Fellow, University of East Anglia.
- June 2014: My new book 'When There's a Woman in the Room: Women MPs Shaping Public Policy' was published in March 2014 and tells the story of my seven years of broadcasting and 350 interviews with women politicians in the UK and International Parliaments. My creative writing of Suffolk in the 50s and 60s continues to flourish with my latest title: 'Twelve Stories of Christmas - Three Sisters and an Axe'. Amazon has more.
- I am also a published author and writer and was nominated for the Orwell Prize in journalism in 2005 for my book "Women in Parliament: The New Suffragettes", published by Methuen. This was made into a BBC Radio 4 "Archive Hour" documentary by my production company.
- In August 2010 I published two books of short stories "The Mermaid's Tale" and "Prequel to the Mermaid's Tale". My short stories of Suffolk have appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times, on Anglia TV and talked about on BBC Radio Suffolk.