Monday, November 29, 2010


Congratulations to my friend and colleague PIPER TERRETT, whom I've mentioned on my weblog in the past. She's a journalist and author of non-fiction books. Well, she has just published her first crime fiction novel Victim Support. The novel, set in the fictional town of Norsey in Essex, loosely based on Billericay where I live, features Detective Inspector Sam Cree. Here’s the description at Smashwords:

When twin boys go missing, DI Sam Cree and her colleagues on the Norsey Force are already overstretched. Then, a student and an elderly woman are gunned down and evidence suggests a sniper is at work. In the background of each murder is an unsolved crime. Is revenge the motive or something deeper?

It’s published online at – you can download a 50 per cent sample for free by clicking on this link and the rest is $5.99 to buy (about £3.74 at current exchange rates).

Piper's cover is the original artwork of hugely talented graphic designer and artist John Kontos. For more information on John, visit his website Incidently, Piper has just been interviewed for our brand new interactive Billericay on-line website Her rendition will appear soon.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Here are some images from the launch of Saturday's Billericay Archive Group in the local library. Chairman of the new history group, Jim Devlin is pictured with chairman of the Town Council Peter Bowditch. A great surge of people joined us who seem to like the idea. We have Iris Yoemans and Joan Shirmer who were both interviewed and their memories are magical. James Shrubb, our super Town Crier was there in full colourful regalia. This is one important gentleman who never fails us in all our town endeavours. Trained interviewers were collecting individual stories and eventually (with their interviewees'permission) we can read about this historical town with its links back to Roman times. Centuries later, in 1620, the town could boast of six of their residents who travelled on board the Mayflower that sailed America in 1620.

One intriguing aspect of the site is that of Professor Wynford P Grant, who - as an 11-year-old - started his own BILLERICAY OBSERVER newspaper in the late 50s. He also wrote some excellent historical books when he was fourteen. Some of the most eminent journalists and film crews from around the world came to interview him. On our website you'll see the Pathe clips live.

Our much loved Cater Museum at 74 High Street was well represented, as was the Essex Record Office and local organisation. Enthusiasm for this new project was high and I suspect that particular story will run and run!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


What goes round comes around - so the old saying goes and this is certainly the case with Oral History. Twenty years ago when I lived in Brentwood, I formed a Memory Club for retired Essex Regiment soldiers who wanted to tell their personal stories of the war. Many of my aspiring writers produced memoirs for their families and some veterans were pleased to see their work published. Yet the academic historians showed little interest at the time.

Now Oral and Community memories and chronicles are highly regarded as a rich source of local history. Martin Astell at the Essex Record Office has a superb store of the county’s history narrated in the people themselves. Many of the tapes were recorded in Brentwood and Billericay.

Now, of course, we have funding available to set up seven Community Archives in this part of Essex. The one I am especially interested in is Billericay. Local volunteers will be gathered at Billericay Library on Saturday, 20 November from 10.00am to 4pm to launch their Community Archive. That splendid Town Crier, Jim Shrubb who has officiated at many Brentwood events, will be in ceremonial dress, ringing his bell to launch this special event.

We owe much to the Essex Record Office, the National Lottery Fund, and Heritage Lottery Fund in helping the volunteers to be trained in IT, digitally copying photographs and documents, then making the whole collection available on the internet. It will be possible to add further memories and comments to each item on the website so that, over time, a vibrant picture of the community’s past will be created. Photographs and documents can be scanned on the spot. Do come and support us. A display of photographs from the past, along with interesting local books will be on show, together with trained interviewers should anyone wish to contribute their stories on Saturday. It should be an interesting and fun day and a chance to tell YOUR story! For more information contact www.billericay,

Town Crier Jim Shrubb and resident Katie Pearce

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Saturday 13 November is going to be a big day for both Reg Haynes and Jim Reeve who will sign their new books at Waterstone's Bookshop at 63 High Street in Brentwood at 11.00am. Do come and wish them well and maybe buy one of their books - you will receive the warmest of welcomes from members of the SWWJ and their local Brentwood Writers' Circle. Reg's two books are VENTUROUS SPIRITS and FOR ALL - OUR TOMORROWS. Jim's latest book is A SCHOOLBOY'S WAR IN CORNWALL to complete his trio of books all of which are selling well.

Both authors have been interviewed for local and regional radio, with the lovely Ed Wellman from Phoenix FM coming along on Saturday to record live from the bookshop and naturally they have both been the topic of my latest column with the Brentwood Weekly News. We look forward to meeting you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010



Great news for our very good friend and colleague Wendy Hughes who is the founder of the STICKLER SYNDROME SUPPORT GROUP.

On Thursday 11th November at 11am the Surrey firm Broadoak Construction will be presenting Wendy with a cheque for £4865.00 raised during 24 hours on 11-12 September 2010 when members of the staff took up the gruelling "Three Peaks Challenge" in aid of Stickler Syndrome.

Emma Sykes, who works for the company put together a team, Iain (Project Manager) Jeff and Joss (Site Managers), Emma (Health & Safety), Carl (QS) and Lukas (Site Security) to climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon all in a period of 24 hours, a total of 3400 metres in height, The challenge began on the Saturday with a five hour climb up Ben Nevis, then the team drove down to Scafell Pike for a 4 and a half hour climb, through the night, ending at 3am! and finishing off with Snowdon at 8am through to mid-day on the Sunday.

They are supporting the charity because Emma's son is registered blind and has been helped immensely by the Stickler Syndrome Support Group. All the proceeds will go towards the next SSSG weekend conference to be held at Daventry in June 2011. Help is needed for the wonderful people who help those with this disease. For further information please go to