I was born and went to school in Essex, but since then I have spent most of my life in the North East of England.
I studied English, Latin and Philosophy at Durham University in the 1970s and graduated as a BA with Honours.
I later successfully studied for a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Communications at Leeds Trinity University College. In 2010 I was awarded a Master of Arts Degree in Public Communications from the University of Leeds for my research on how unemployment is portrayed in the media in the North East. I also hold a Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
After an earlier career in customer service in the public sector I became a government press and public relations officer in 1999, a job I held for 12 years before deciding to leave the corporate world and go it alone as a tutor and trainer.
As a press officer, effective communications were my main concern. I worked with local, regional, national and international media and did a good deal of writing, and speaking on radio and TV. I worked mainly for the Department for Work and Pensions but was involved in projects with other organisations including the Ministry of Defence and Buckingham Palace. I was regularly responsible for briefing government ministers and senior managers and arranging ministerial visits.
I was also trained as a trainer and designed and delivered training and coaching for junior colleagues.