I started writing poetry in 2017 after I retired from the NHS. I had a varied career as a cancer epidemiologist, as a Professor at Nottingham University, a spell in the Department of Health and finally in the NHS as chair of two Hospital Trusts.
I co-founded the charity Mental Health Research UK in 2008. This was in response to the realisation that research into mental illness was desperately underfunded.
My initial inspiration to try writing poetry came from the work of UA Fanthorpe. I met Miss Fanthorpe (as I still think of her) at Cheltenham Ladies College when she was Head of English and I a rather junior pupil. Hearing ‘Not Her Best Side’ on a radio programme celebrating her life, I felt I wanted to explore writing poetry again.
That began at a workshop at Cheltenham Literature Festival run by Daljit Nagra in 2016, and has continued with weekly sessions at the Oxford Poets Workshop tutored by Dr Edward Clarke and a poetry module of the BA in Creative Writing at Gloucestershire University led by Dr Angela France. An Arvon course at Totleigh Barton with Jean Strickland was unforgettable. I regularly attend Anna Saunders’s workshops in Cheltenham and Angela France’s Buzzwords poetry.
My pamphlet Black was longlisted for the 2020 Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Prize, my poem Knitting was Highly Commended in the 2020 Poetry Kit Summer Competition and my poem Sally Morgan won 2nd Prize in the 2020 Poetry Kit Ekphrastic Poetry Competition.