My personas of the year for 2014


Foxy has hers below, 

…and here are mine

[My personal] Hero of 2014

Without doubt and by an effing country mile…

Andrea Cockerton of the Dowsing Sound Collective

Here’s a glimpse why… …and that’s just the fundraising.

Her arrangement of this Basement Jaxx number not only impressed me, it impressed Basement Jaxx who were also in the audience – so much so that they invited her to collaborate with them – the result being Dowsing’s version of ‘Power to the People’. This was quickly followed up by recording Reality Checkpoint for the Cycle of Songs/Tour de France in Cambridge – leading to a live performance on Parker’s Piece in the summer. Clashing with the World Cup Final were two performances at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds – where this video was recorded. Finally we had sellout gigs in December at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, and a smaller one at The Maltings in Ely.

Two professional recordings and four live performances with one of the most buzzing and supportive of groups of people I’ve worked with in years. That’s the difference Andrea made to me.

Taking a risk with me award

Goes to…

David Cleevely and Anne Bailey

Both invested not just their reputations but a huge amount of time in the Be the change – Cambridge project. What started out as a meeting over coffee led to our first event, our Conversation Cafe at Anglia Ruskin University in September – see here for a write-up and video footage.  My thanks also to all of the sponsors and supporters – especially as we prepare for our community action event on 14 March 2015.

Honourable mentions also go to the Cambridge Buskers Festival and to the Campaign for Better Transport for giving me my first paid digital video commissions, and to the ADC Theatre for my first panto film commission too!

Standing up to be counted in the face of hostility award 

Goes to…

Rahima Ahammed – Labour candidate for the Queen Edith’s by-election in November 2014

Given the amount of hostility generated by the media towards women and to Muslims, to put yourself forward for election and to campaign actively takes a huge amount of courage in the face of such a hostile environment. Having experienced what it’s like to campaign in Puffles’ campaign earlier this year, and having heard anecdotally some of the backlash she faced, Cambridge isn’t immune. To face this head on deserved commending.

The One Cambridge Award

Goes jointly to…

Anna Malan and Emily Dunning of the Cambridge Hub

This is for their work with the Cambridge Hub in trying to bridge the gap between Cambridge students and local residents. Emily is currently halfway around the world on her project. Here’s an interview I recorded with her just before she left.


Anna is now the manager of the Cambridge Hub and in the space of a few months has turned two ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if Cambridge did this?’ blogposts and turned them into actions & events. The first was one that brought many of Cambridge’s environmentalist groups & activists together for an open space session – which is being repeated in the New Year. The second is the Volunteer for Cambridge event on 28 February 2014. She’s creating the safe space for ‘town and gown’ to come together to solve our shared challenges.

The ‘I’ll stand by you’ award

Goes to…

Ceri Jones – a Cambridge community activist

Because she was the only person who campaigned with me publicly when I stood as Puffles for the Coleridge Ward in the Cambridge City Council elections in 2014. She was also at The Guildhall for the results count, staying up all night in the media gallery with journalists from national as well as local news.

Journalist of the year award

Goes to…

Chris Havergal, formerly of the Cambridge News, now of The Times Higher Education

A well-deserved move from local to national news earlier this year, Chris had more than earned this move with his local government reporting for the Cambridge News, attending local council committee meetings that hardly anyone else wanted to attend. Honourable mentions go to Jayne Secker of Sky News – conversing with me over Twitter between advert breaks while she was on air, and Julian Clover of Cambridge105 for broadcasting my first radio reports.

Unsung political activist of the year award

Goes to…

Ellisif Wasmuth of The Cambridge Green Party

Two years ago I criticised The Green Party for having such a small presence in the city following a fall from their 2010 high point. Ellisif came to Cambridge and from scratch and formed what is now a vibrant Cambridge Young Greens movement and was instrumental in supporting Rupert Read’s campaign in the Euro elections, where the Greens polled over 7,000 votes across Cambridge – a record.

Political innovation of the year award

Goes to…

Cambridge Regional College Media Students & Hilary Cox

For organising and delivering a broadcast standard version of Question Time – see here. This for me has set what I hope is an annual precedent: of Cambridgeshire County Councillors being cross-examined by college students while being live broadcast online.

Musician of the year award

Goes to:

Grace Sarah

Grace did her GCSEs this summer, yet still managed to record and perform some amazing music this year. I saw her at The Junction in Cambridge (see here) and in St Ives just outside the city, and filmed both performances. Honourable mentions also go to:

…all of whom played some tremendous sets this year.

The big theme that runs through many of the nominees and winners is that many of them tried out new things for the first time, or enabled me to do the same – eg allowing me to film them perform. This chimes with challenge I set in my last words of my final blogpost of 2013.

1) “What is the one action that you are going to undertake this year that you have not done before in your life?

2) What behaviour change will you make this year? What are you currently doing that you will stop doing or change, what are you currently not doing that you will start doing?”

The same challenges apply this year.

I’ve avoided having a villain of the year. If there was, it’d be the tabloid media. But giving them such an award would only give them more publicity and feed the demons of hatred that need vanquishing. So no award for them. For many, it’s been a difficult year. I hope we can make 2015 a vast improvement. I’m going to do my bit.

Happy New Year!



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