For more than a decade I was the archivist at Nestlé UK and an industry recognised expert in the history of chocolate in York; but what does that mean in practice?
Things I do:
Take a look at my writing page for more info and the latest updates (I’m always working on a new secret project that I’m waiting to be able to announce so do keep your eyes on that one — next big announcement due late 2019). If you want to follow the adventures of Penny Thorpe and the Quality Street Girls then take a look at Penny Thorpe Books.
–I bring it online–
I really care about reliable information, that’s why I’m building the Chocolate City Wiki where I can log all of the things I find out while I’m researching the history of chocolate in York. It’s difficult to find reliable information on the history of Chocolate City; I’ve read one book that claims that the Terry’s were Quakers (nope), another that says that Joseph Rowntree was knighted (nope); and another that claims that Joseph Rowntree Snr’s real name was actually Jacob (*facepalm*). It’s a work in progress, but one day I hope it will be a really valuable resource.
I was the archivist for Nestlé UK for more than a decade and before that I cut my archive teeth in the York Minster Archive (shout out to Peter Young at the York Minster Archives for giving this hapless loon her first big break). If you’re a business (or anyone really) with an archive that needs saving, moving, organising, or building from scratch (yes, sometimes I help brands with no archive at all create one — I’m an archive magician) then give me a call; I’ve seen it all before and I love it.
I’m incredibly lucky to live in a city that is blessed with citizens who want to celebrate its history. I love helping out individuals and organisations who want to uncover, promote, or double-check some history. If you need me, I’m here for you. After more than a decade in business I can help you to find new revenue streams to support the cost of sharing our amazing story; unusual ideas a speciality.
After all my years of working with brand managers I know that sometimes they need a day away from their desks to spend time getting to know their brand again from the ground up. I love a good brand immersion session because it can really energise a brand team. Read more about brand immersion days here.
–I telly tart–
I’m afraid I lost track of the number of BBC broadcasts I’d appeared on after about 30 (and that’s not including the repeats around the world). My family and friends refer to it as “Telly Tarting” which I think is hilarious. I never watch my appearances, so maybe that’s why I’m never nervous; and often get what we need in the first take. I focus on what the director needs, and it’s not always easy, but it’s always good fun.
I love giving talks and lectures because it’s a chance to share the subject I’m passionate about, but unlike blogging I get a real-time feel for what the audience enjoys, and that’s a nice change. My all-time favourite talks were at the City Screen cinema in York where I was able to show-off some amazing pre-war archive film; keep your eyes on my events page for a heads-up on my next show.
–I talk to journalists–
I’m always happy to talk to journalists about the history of brands, business, chocolate, Quakers, or anything else they want to know about. I can’t list all my interviews, but I know that I’ve been quoted in every major national newspaper (and a lot of international news outlets), and a canny google search will turn them up. If you want to see some examples look up this post and scroll to the end.
In fact, I’m on all the major social media platforms, and a few minor ones. Check out my social media links at the top of the page and join the party on my facebook.
I write book reviews because it’s a good excuse for reading as much as I do. It’s also a good way for me to flag up the reliability of sources; some books on my subject are largely accurate (but for one or two minor errors) and some are largely inaccurate (and I can only assume the one or two correct facts are random mistakes). Check out my book reviews for the lowdown on who’s hot and who’s not.