Chris Gribble, Chief Executive and Board Member
After completing a PhD in German Poetry and Philosophy at the University of Manchester, Chris worked in publishing then the cultural sector and was the Director of Manchester Poetry Festival and then Manchester Literature Festival. He is on the Board of Directors of ICORN (the International Cities of Refuge Network), is Co-Chair of the National Association for Literature Development, sits of the Advisory Group for Manchester University’s Centre for New Writing and the Editorial Board of Jon McGregor’s new journal The Letters Page.
Favourite book: There’s a special hold on the mind that books read as a child have, so my favourite work of literature might possibly be Moominpappa at Sea by Tove Jansson. An extended essay on melancholy, the dangers of disappearing within a family, the power of the imagination to set oneself free and how to enjoy being different, this novel fits me as closely at the age of 44 as it did at 9.
Book you’ve never managed to finish: I have never finished a novel by Dickens. There, I’ve said it. *Watches remaining literary credibility evaporate*
Sarah Bower, General Manager (maternity cover)
Graduated from the UEA creative writing MA programme in 2001, since when she has published three novels and numerous short stories. She also teaches creative writing and mentors fellow novelists, and collaborated with Daniel Hahn to found the British Centre for Literary Translation mentoring scheme for emerging literary translators, now managed by WCN. Before embarking on her MA, Sarah worked for seven years at East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, where she was group HR manager and administered the hospice at Quidenham, a role which involved the management of an historic building, formerly the guesthouse for the Carmelite Monastery at Quidenham.
Favourite book: Wuthering Heights - read it every year (though made an exception in 2015 for Caryl Phillips’ The Lost Child). It has everything – Yorkshire, where I grew up, family politics, where we all grew up
Book you’ve never managed to finish: A LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU. I must also to admit (blushes and mumbles a bit) to not being able to stand Dickens.
Megan Bradbury, Programme Assistant
Megan is a Programme Assistant at Writers’ Centre Norwich and an anomaly in the arts sector, as she doesn’t drink tea or coffee. A former Young Poet Laureate with Birmingham Libraries, Megan moved to Norwich in 2013 to study English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where she volunteered at a number of literature festivals before joining the Writers’ Centre as a full time staff member in 2016. Her role focuses on the participation and engagement programmes, including Writers Services, Creative Writing Online and the Young Ambassadors and Creative Leaders schemes. In her spare time, she can usually be found (unsurprisingly) reading, or writing the first chapters of novels she never manages to finish.
Andrew Burton, Director of Communications (maternity cover)
Andrew was Head of Marketing at the New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich for ten years until 2010 and has been a freelance arts marketing consultant and writer since then. He teaches Writing for Theatre and Writing for Radio at the University of Essex. Andrew was a finalist in the inaugural Theatre Royal Writers playwriting competition, a reading of his play Eventide having taken place at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds earlier this year.
Annelli Clarke, Finance Officer
During the rest of the week she is a successful self-employed milliner. Having trained with some of the best in the craft and, after gaining accolades from the likes of Stephen Jones andGrazia Magazine, she has received commissions from across the globe. In her previous life she gained a degree in Enterprise Management, then owned and ran a restaurant.
Amanda Currie (Currently on maternity leave) General Manager
Amanda is responsible for the facilities management of the Grade 1 listed building, health and safety, as well as many aspects of office and events management. Amanda previously worked for the Norfolk and Norwich Heritage Trust who were the former tenants of Dragon Hall, and in a previous life worked in business development and organising events within the glamorous world of waste management. A literature graduate many moons ago, Amanda is hoping that working for WCN will re-ignite her love for reading.
Freya Gallagher-Jones, Operations Assistant
Freya's post is made available by Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries, and she works within the Executive Director’s team, assisting with the organisation’s operational and business functions. As well as recent graduate of English Literature from the University of Cumbria, Freya has volunteered at several literature festivals and has managed a number of events with literature societies and organisations in the North West. With a keen interest in literary typography, it seems only right that when she is not in the office she is found attempting to navigate the city in search of good coffee and arts events.
Kate Griffin, Associate Programme Director
Contributing to the development of WCN’s international activities. Formerly international programme director at the British Centre for Literary Translation, Kate has developed projects in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. She also works with the London Review Bookshop on its World Literature series, and was a judge of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize from 2005 to 2010. She worked for Arts Council England from 2001 to 2010, specialising in international literature and translation, and she spent most of the 1990s working overseas in Belgium and Russia.
Simon Jones, Digital Marketing Manager
Simon likes doing creative things which help other people do creative things. As Digital Marketing Manager he’s working on all of WCN’s online channels, devising strategies for social media and the evolving website. Having studied Film & English at the University of East Anglia, Simon then spent over a decade building communities, delivering training and marketing software for the filmmaking and visual effects industries before joining Writers’ Centre Norwich. He writes serialised fiction on Wattpad, edited the polar biography Scott’s Forgotten Surgeon and has self-published several ebooks in the science fiction series A Day of Faces.
Alice Kent, Director of Communications
Since completing a Masters in Journalism at Cardiff University she has specialised in marketing in the cultural sector. Before joining WCN she worked as Communications Manager for The Poetry Trust which runs the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and as Marketing Manager for Norwich University of the Arts. Her first short story was published recently in the inaugural Words and Women anthology. Outside of work she spends her time; sitting down to write and getting distracted by Masterchef.
Favourite Book: Anything by Geoff Dyer, Adam Phillips or Sebald...although at push if I had to name just one book it might be Summer in Baden Baden, Leonid Tsypkin.
Book you’ve never managed to finish: War and Peace, The Magic Mountain, The Glass Bead Game ...I just move them to a different house every few years.
Alison McFarlane, Executive Director
Alison is currently working on WCN’s business planning, organisational development and reporting structures as well as the change management process as WCN moves towards becoming the National Centre for Writing. Following training as an artist and a few years as a self employed textile designer, Alison spent six years as senior lecturer in the Department of Arts and Humanities at the University of London Goldsmiths’ College. This was followed by ten years at Arts Council England East based in Cambridge, firstly as Head of Visual Arts and finally as Head of Arts. On leaving the Arts Council, Alison worked as CEO of a voluntary organisation in Norwich for before being appointed as Executive Director of Norfolk & Norwich Festival where she stayed until September 2012. Alison was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2006.
Stephanie McKenna, Communications Officer
Responsible for the day-to-day communications of the organisation. Steph arrived in Norwich in 2007 to study English Literature at the University of East Anglia, but after graduating with an MA in Studies in Fiction she couldn’t find it in her heart to leave. She has previously worked in communications roles within Local Authority and NHS settings, but always maintained a passion for literature and the arts, volunteering in her spare time for WCN, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and the Hostry Festival. Her spare time is stuffed with books, music, cooking (I try) and exploring more or what this fine city (and beyond) has to offer.
Conor McGeown, Development Manager
After studying law at Trinity College Dublin, Conor toyed with the idea of pursuing a legal career in London before taking a left turn into fundraising, initially for the cause of animal welfare. A resident of the fine city of Norwich since as far back as early 2014, he is excited to be able to play a part in WCN’s vital work to develop and promote the social and artistic impacts of literature and reading. At home, Conor’s main interests in music, movies and books fight it out for his spare time, the ultimate winner depending on when you ask.
Favourite book/writer: Further Adventures, Jon Stephen Fink. As a 12 year old I didn’t know you could do farts in books, this really opened up my mind to the creative possibilities of literature.
Jonathan Morley, Programme Director
He has previously programmed and produced theatre shows, concerts and outdoor arts festivals for The Drum in Birmingham, been a publisher and literary activist in Coventry and taught writing and literature at the University of Warwick, Coventry University and the Workers’ Education Association. He contributed essays to The Oxford Companion to Black British History and has edited the work of numerous Caribbean writers, both historical figures and contemporaries. His new collection of poems, Euclid’s Harmonics, winner of a Café Writers Commission, is available from Ink Sweat & Tears.
Adam Pugh, Programme Officer
Working on the International Literature Showcase. A designer, writer and curator specialising in artists’ moving image, he worked at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television before moving to Norwich to establish the festival Aurora (2005 – 2009). He has since worked on freelance curatorial projects with various galleries and festivals, and most recently ran a two-year project for the Independent Cinema Office, curating programmes with cinemas across the country and commissioning new work. He established the curatorial platform Promontories in 2012 as a means to present projects, screenings and publications. As a writer, he contributes regularly to Art Monthly, among other publications. He has devised and delivered a course around artists’ moving image at LUX; and has taught, delivered talks and served on international juries for various institutions and events worldwide. Adam also works as a print designer, having established the studio The Way Things Go in 2015. He lives in Norwich, where he wrangles three small boys (his own) and enjoys cycling, music and various other things.
Favourite book: The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann. All of life is here: youth, love, war, sickness, death; philosophy and music, the mountain and the mind.
Book you’ve never managed to finish:In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust (stuck on Swann’s Way, which is the first book, not all that far from the beginning)
Flo Reynolds, Programme Assistant
Flo came to Norwich in 2011, and worked in heritage and academic publishing after gaining a degree in English Literature. She undertook an internship with WCN in 2013, returning in 2016 to take on the role of Programme Assistant. Flo works across WCN’s portfolio of projects, including Noirwich and Worlds. In her spare time she can often be found in a coffee shop corner, with more books to hand than strictly necessary.
Sam Ruddock, Programme Manager
He has at various times managed the International Literature Showcase, Brave New Reads, Norfolk and Norwich Festival,National Conversation, and education programmes. He is also Founder of We Are Readers, a qualified Coach, an editor and Board Member for independent publisher Gatehouse Press, and a Clore Leadership and RSA Fellow.
Favourite book: To choose one is simply impossible. As a child Matilda and Danny the Champion of the World were books I went back to again and again, gave me excitement and ambition for how I wanted to be in life, and were packed full of delicious cake treats.
Book you’ve never managed to finish: The books I feel I should read don’t usually get started!
Anasua Sarkar Roy BEng (Hons), ACMA, Finance Manager
Anasua is a qualified accountant and has been living in Norfolk for the past twelve years. Previously from London and lived in New Delhi for two years as a teenager when her parents decided it would help their daughters understand their Indian heritage. She graduated as a Biochemical Engineer from University College London and worked as an engineer with Merck before joining Price Waterhouse for the next few years where she gained valuable experience in audit and management consultancy. With varied experience of working at companies such as Teletext, Sothebys, Reuters Thomson Financials, Ministry of Sound and Aviva. She was on the Board of Norwich Arts Centre for ten years. Anasua has completed a diploma for creative writing at the UEA and since started but never finished a screenplay and short stories. She is an avid reader of both fiction and non fiction. Most of all, she enjoys teaching and practicing yoga since she is a BWY and Vinyasa qualified and believes yoga has many benefits including boosting creativity and energy levels.
Favourite book: Poem (or collection of) – Rain – Don Paterson and also Penguin Anthology of Indian Women Poets – In Their Own Voice. Also love my Philip Larkin Collected Poems
Book you’ve never managed to finish: Les Miserables…I think it’s because I know the story now.
Sophie Scott-Brown, Participation and Learning Manager
Sophie is a Norfolk girl in origin, but has spent the last few years in Canberra, Australia where she completed her PhD, taught and organised events in the National Centre of Biography, ANU. Her passion is for creative non-fiction in particular biography and history, and her biographical study of the British historian Raphael Samuel is due to be published next year. Outside of work, she can mostly be found battling the elements (and the critters) in her vegetable patch.
Laura Stimson, Programme Manager (currently on maternity leave)
Laura joined the organisation in 2007 to coordinate the live literature programme and formerly managed programmes including the Worlds Literature gathering, Free Reads scheme, workshop programme and live literature partnerships. Laura now looks after the Escalator scheme, a unique mentoring and professional development opportunity for writers. Laura can be found singing with jazz bands Moonshine Swing Seven and The Ferries and for Luke Wright’s poetry shows. She is a published fiction writer, and is represented by Blake Friedmann literary agency.
David Gilbert (Chair)
David Gilbert (Chair), following a long and successful career in retail including being MD of Currys Ltd, Chief Operating Officer of Dixons Stores Group worldwide, and MD of Waterstones Booksellers, David now devotes all of his time to the Creative Industries and the Arts. He is Chair of Creative United, an Arts Council backed company which delivers innovative finance for Creative Businesses. He is also Trustee of the Big Draw and is a Director of the Whitechapel Gallery. David is Board Advisor to iconic jewellery brand Tatty Devine. David has recently been appointed Chair of DigVentures Archaeeology. David holds an MA in Comparative Literature and is an Alumnus of UEA.
Ellah Wakatama Allfrey
Ellah was Deputy Editor of Granta magazine. She worked for five years at Penguin Press before moving to Random House for six years. As Senior Editor, she was responsible for Jonathan Cape’s acclaimed list of African writers as well as editing a wide range of authors including Carmen Callil, Bettany Hughes, Antony Quinn and Julian Barnes and commissioning highly praised and award winning writers such as Dinaw Mengestu, Evie Wyld and Laura Fish. Since joining the Board of WCN she has been active in the organisational changes and expansion of the company. A Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, Ellah was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to the publishing industry. Chris Gribble
Chris is the Chief Executive of Writers’ Centre Norwich. After completing a PhD in German Poetry and Philosophy at the University of Manchester, Chris worked in publishing for Carcanet Press and PN Review, then spent several years working as a consultant for the cultural sector and was the Director of Manchester Poetry Festival and then Manchester Literature Festival. He sits of the Advisory Group for Manchester University’s Centre for New Writing, is on the Board of Directors of ICORN (the International Cities of Refuge Network), is Co-Chair of the National Association for Literature Development and a Board Member of Writers’ Centre Norwich as well as Norwich small press Eggbox Publishing. He is also an Artistic Assessor for Arts Council England.
Helen lives in Norwich. As Trustee for Dragon Hall before it became the home of Writers’ Centre Norwich, she knows the building well. She has a background in Criminal Justice: as a prison governor; and charities: previously as a CEO of an offender resettlement charity, and more recently as a founder trustee of Felbeck Trust, a charity that improves habitat for wildlife. She has an interest in textiles and is currently Chair of the Norfolk Countryside Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. Helen believes passionately in the inspirational and healing power of the written word for everyone, but especially for those disadvantaged and disillusioned in life.
Pam is a psychotherapist working in Cambridge. Prior to that, she worked in the arts for over twenty years leading organisations such as Cambridge Drama Centre, the Arts Marketing Association and Arts Professional. As a co-director of the consultancy Henderson Aplin Partnership she worked with the four UK arts councils, most of the UK's regional audience development agencies and a range of arts organisations of all scales. She first worked with the New Writing Partnership (as WCN was then) in 2005, and continued to work with the organisation on strategic development and human resources before joining the board in 2012. Pam enjoys alpine walking (not easy in the Fens), and playing the melodeon.
James lives in Norwich and is a Partner in the law firm Taylor Vinters, where he specialises in the acquisition, sale and development of commercial property. James completed an LLB(hons) degree at King's College University of London and is also an Associate of King's College. He trained to be a solicitor in the Midlands and then worked for a number of years at law firm Slaughter and May in London before moving to East Anglia . James is an avid reader (when time allows) and collector of post 1960's crime and thriller novels.
Yvonne is Professor of Film Studies, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Her research is broadly concerned with the politics of popular culture. In current and recent work Yvonne has explored these issues in relation to popular constructions of “postfeminism”; gender and military culture on screen; action and adventure narratives; crime television. She is currently working with Professor Diane Negra on a new book of essays, 'Gendering the Recession'.
Bill is a journalist, commentator and technology critic based in Cambridge. He has been working in, on and around the Internet since 1984. He currently has a weekly column, the BillBoard, which appears in the technology section of the BBC News website, and contributes to other publications both on and off-line, including The Times and The New Statesman. He writes a monthly column for Focus magazine and appears weekly on 'Digital Planet' (formerly called 'Go Digital') on the BBC World Service and occasionally on other radio and television programmes. Bill is the editor and systems administrator for the Working 4 an MP website. He is a visiting fellow in the Journalism Department at City University and a Trustee of the Cambridge Film Trust, organisers of the Cambridge Film Festival.
Helen has a background in broadcasting having been a producer and editor on the Today programme, the World at One and PM. After a stint in New York and Washington for the BBC she became Managing Editor Radio 4 and then Controller Radio 4. After leaving the BBC she ran an independent production company and then became Chair of Southern Norfolk Primary Care Trust for the NHS. She is currently Chair of the Norfolk Cultural Forum, and the New Anglia Cultural Board (Norfolk and Suffolk) working with the Local Enterprise Partnership. Helen is a member of the Heart Board and Chair of the Norfolk 2012 Steering Group. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts.
Andrew joined a family office as Chief Financial Officer at the beginning of 2009 after 18 years with PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he served a wide variety of clients as part of audit, tax and wealth advisory teams. A Chartered Accountant by training, Andrew is also a Chartered Financial Planner.