I was born in Wednesbury in the Black Country, and educated at Wood Green High School, Sandwell College and the University of Manchester, where I read economics.
However, a long-standing enthusiasm for history led me to undertake further, part-time study with the Open University, from which I gained a first-class honours degree and a master’s degree awarded with distinction. My master’s dissertation examined the social history of my hometown with respect to the Chartist movement during the 1830s and 1840s.
Following on from this, I developed a strong interest in the First World War, which I trace back to the stories my grandmother told me about growing up during the early years of the 20th Century. Further investigation revealed that two of my great grandfathers had served with the South Staffordshire Regiment during the Great War. These factors ultimately contributed to my switch from 19th to 20th Century research and I am now pursuing a part-time PhD under the supervision of Professor Carl Chinn. This research is exploring patriotism and the working class in Wednesbury during the Great War, examining how this affected both the front line and the home front, and making particular reference to the recruitment and war service of the citizen soldiers of the Fifth (Territorial Force) Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment.
Aside from an enduring fascination with other areas of history as diverse as the Renaissance and the social and political history of the Black Country, my other interests include cinema, crosswords, current affairs, music, photography, the theatre, travel, and I am a lifelong supporter of West Bromwich Albion.