John Barrow

John Barrow was born in Birmingham in 1932. After primary and grammar school there, and two years of National Service, he studied for an Honours degree in Geography at Birmingham University. After graduation, he was appointed as a junior research assistant in the Cheshire County Council Town & Country Planning Department. During the three years there, he gained a special diploma in Town Planning from Manchester University and membership of the Town Planning Institute. He served on the staff of three county councils until he retired from Oxfordshire as Director of Planning & Property Services. He and his wife Janet (Jan) moved to Llanbadoc and lived in a cottage at Lower Prescoed, for over twenty years. In the first five years, he served as a local plans inspector in the Department of the Environment. Subsequently he became Chairman of Llanbadoc Community Council, then Secretary and Chairman of Usk Civic Society in which time many of the blue wall plaques and multi-coloured pavement plaques were installed in Usk. Jan wrote and published three books on local history. They moved into Usk about 10 years ago, where sadly Jan died in 2014.

Sadly John died in 2021.

Eugene Barter

Born in Penarth S Wales in 1928, Eugene Barter left her grammar school at 16 to work as a trainee journalist on two local newspapers, the Barry Herald and the Glamorgan Gazette. Much later in life, she worked for the editor of the South Wales Evening Post in Swansea.

Aged 18, she moved to an assignment in Holland at a UNESCO conference and stayed on for two years, learning the language and working with a company in Amsterdam, struggling to get back on its feet after the horrors of the Second World War.

In her forties, she studied with the Open University and after graduating, became a tutor/counsellor and later assistant to the Senior Arts Director. Eventually she found work in the House of Commons, becoming Senior Secretary to Sir Edward Heath.

Upon retirement, in her sixties with her family, she went to live in France for twenty years, spending part of her time running an auberge and writing a book Blackbirds Baked In A Pie, a lively and affectionate account of her time there.

Returning to live in Wales in her eighties, she decided to write an account of her life working in the Commons and her continuing relationship with Mr Heath through occasional meetings and a long correspondence which he liked to call the ‘French Connection’.

It reveals a fresh and humorous side to this complex man’s character and the enormous value he placed upon such friendships throughout his life.


David Collard

David Collard is a Professor Emeritus of Economics, having retired from the University of Bath. He has written extensively on economics, including the books Altruism and Economy (1978) and Generations of Economists (2011). Recently he was an editor of A Companion to Alfred Russel Wallace (2019). He became interested in theatre after organising a large and successful Son et Lumière at Usk Castle to mark the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Usk in 2006. The present play was written in 2016 and has had two ‘rehearsed readings’, one at a local village pub and one at the 2017 Bristol Fringe Shakespeare Festival. It has not yet (as at May 2020) had a full staging. He has also written a few shorter plays including The Last Will and Testament of Roger Edwards, Gentleman and Trelawny versus Shelley . David and his wife Stella have a smallholding in Monmouthshire.

Nic Cunningham

Nic was born and raised in Cwmbran, South Wales, and was married in Wrexham, North Wales. Nic writes Welsh Poetry and Welsh Legends and Ghost stories. This is now his tenth book. He has been married to Karen for 21 years, and is blessed with a son, Ben Llewelyn. Nic loves all things about Wales.

Christina Evans

Christina Evans is the widow of Rev'd Dr J Daryll Evans who was an Associate Priest at St Mary's Church, Panteg, S Wales until 1982. He was the author of many books and articles on various aspects of Church History. Christina is keen to keep alive Daryll's memories and is busy revising all his books for current publication. She still lives close to St Mary's Church .

Glyn Evans

Glyn Evans was born in Birkenhead in 1944 and, when not at school, spent much of his childhood around the docks and waterfront of the River Mersey, fascinated by the comings and goings of the many cargo ships and passenger liners to be seen there at that time. Rowing dinghies from the 64th Birkenhead Sea Scouts’ boat station on the West Float dock system gave Glyn the opportunity to see these large ocean-going vessels at close hand.

Further interest in shipping came from his early hobbies of ship photography and ship postcard collecting, twelve years of commuting on the Birkenhead Ferry to Liverpool (which included the customary anti-clockwise perambulation around the top deck), plus forty years spent working as a marine cargo insurance underwriter. Glyn is an amateur artist and his series of paintings “Funnel Vision” has been exhibited at the National Waterways Museums at Ellesmere Port and Gloucester Docks. Little wonder then that he should take a keen interest in all aspects of marine art. His first book, “The Maritime Art of Kenneth D Shoesmith” was published in 2011 and his second, “Dazzle-Painted Ships of WWI” in 2015. He has presented lectures on these and other marine subjects to maritime associations throughout the UK.

Glyn Evans is now retired and lives in Kent with his wife, Ruth. He maintains his interest in all things maritime through his membership of various societies including the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, the Liverpool Nautical Research Society and the Seven Seas Club. He is a member of the Friends of HMS Conway, and a Friend of the Royal Society of Marine Artists. 

Darcy Drummond

Darcy Drummond was born to show business parents and grew up surrounded by it. Although she chose not to follow them into the business, it remains a fundamental and cherished part of her life to this day. Some of the wonderful and talented people she met as a child remain her dearest friends. After having several successful careers, Darcy now concentrates on writing. She is married and lives in the south of England. She has published two novels,  Summer Season and  Water of Life

Julie Hamill

Real name: Julie Patricia Hamill

Birth place/date: Baillieston, December 13th 1971

Birthsign: Sagittarius

Siblings: Rose Ann, Louise, James. All older

Height: virtually and arguably 5 ft 2

Weight: 7 ½ stone

Eyes: blue

Hair: brown

Previous occupations: advertising

Previous bands: Mr Birch and Mr Morris school band (backing singer)

Favourite colour: yellow

Favourite food: artichoke hearts

Favourite drink: ginger beer, lots of ice

Hobbies: Mozarmy. Music, books, jukeboxes, quizzes, dancing, hula hooping

Pets: one schnoodle, Dolly 

Ambition in life: to make an album with Louise: Songs from the dogs

Self description: an over-flowing cup of fluff

High points of career: meeting Penny Reeves in Cardiff

Favourite book: 15 Minutes With You by Julie Hamill

Favourite film: Billy Liar, The Lost Boys, Sid and Nancy, Grease

Favourite TV programme: Coronation Street, Mad Men, Sopranos

TV personality: Terry Wogan

Favourite actors: Tom Hardy, Alison Steadman, James Gandolfini

Person you would most like to meet: Morrissey

Most important possession: gumption

Most hated record: Midnight Oil: Beds Are Burning

Favourite bands: The Smiths, The Specials, Depeche Mode

Favourite singer: Morrissey, Kate Bush, Carole King

Favourite LPs: World Peace Is None Of Your Business, Please, Kill Uncle

Favourite singles: Velocity Girl, The Rattler, Promised Land, William, Hit

First record you ever bought: The Tide Is High 

First live gig: The Smiths, Glasgow, 1985

Likes: reminiscing with Gillian, Elaine, Jack, Sharn, Babs & Caroline

Dislikes: itchy labels, meat, cruelty

Favourite animal: dogs

Favourite person: Pat n Jimmy

Heroes: Gerard, Sadie, Archie, 

Julie Hes, Neil Wood, Mrs Nelis

Villains: Bernard Matthews

Greatest embarrassment: having to hold my nose under water

Self confession: I turn the music up when you’re not looking

First romance: Morrissey

Favourite fun thing to do: Visit the Ramada crazy carpet in West Hollywood

Tim Harnden Taylor

Born in London NW8 and now living towards the end of the red underground line in ‘Lowtown’, he trained in Birmingham as an actor and singer, later enjoying several years in the professional theatre, both in the provinces and in London’s West End. A lifetime’s love of classical music eventually found him at the old store in Oxford Street at HMV. Computers were still in their infancy, therefore an encyclopaedic knowledge of recordings was a must. Other jobs have followed and the need to write/scribble has always been there. Oh to be organized!

Enter Bing, and his enquiring mind. The journey continues……

My name is Bing (short for Bingo Little of Lowtown) and I am a Grand Bassett Griffon Vendeen. I live with Tom, Angela and an Arthur but I spend a couple of days each week with the guv Tim. Between you and me, I’m needed there as he’s getting rather forgetful. So to help keep his brain active, I ask him questions about all the things that puzzle me. Though it has to be said, he’s not got much more of a clue than me…..

Sadly Tim died in December 2019

Graham Harris

Graham returned to live in Usk about 25 years ago, having spent the previous 30 years going walkabout.

He lived at his childhood home, Rose Cottage, for a while before moving to Usk with his partner Jill. He decided to take up education again as a mature student and enrolled at Usk College on a course covering environment, conservation and woodland management. From there, he went to the University of South Wales, gaining a BA Hons degree in Environmental and Geography Studies. He followed that with an MA course on Upland Ecology, all managed with the love and support of Jill who continues to support him in the endeavours he currently enjoys.

He set up the Usk Conservation and Environmental Group which is still very active around Usk town today.

They moved from Usk to a 16-acre property next to the canal on the side of the Blorenge Mountain just above Llanfoist. Jill had always had an interest in horses so they decided, with the ground spare, that rescuing neglected, abused and ill-treated horses would occupy their time. Currently they have five - four mini-Shetlands and one full Shetland which is only on loan! A rescued Golden Guernsey goat by the name of Marigold shares the land with the horses.

Graham runs a folk club in Abergavenny, is a member of Black Mountain Jazz and Abergavenny Poetry Group, as well as taking part in Open Mic sessions, usually doing poetry.

Nigel Jarrett

Nigel is a former daily-newspaperman and a double prize-winner: the Rhys Davies Award for short fiction and, in 2016, the inaugural Templar Shorts award. His first story collection, Funderland, published by Parthian, was praised by the Guardian, the Independent, the Times and many others, and was long-listed for the Edge Hill Prize.
His début poetry collection, Miners At The Quarry Pool, also from Parthian, was described by Agenda poetry magazine as 'a virtuoso performance'. His first novel, Slowly Burning (GG Books) was published in 2016, as was his second story collection, Who Killed Emil Kreisler? (Cultured Llama Publishing).
Last year, Templar published his three-story pamphlet, A Gloucester Trilogy.
Based in Monmouthshire, he also writes for the Wales Arts Review, Arts Scene in Wales, Slightly Foxed, Acumen poetry magazine, and several others. He is a regular contributor to Jazz Journal magazine. His poetry, fiction and essays appear widely. For many years he was a daily newspaper music critic, and now freelances in that capacity. He is represented in the Library of Wales's two-volume anthology of 20th- and 21st-century short fiction.

Follow Nigel on Facebook

David Kenny

David Kenny was born and lived most of his life in Newport. He graduated from the University of Bristol in 1969 with an Hons Degree in Politics and Sociology before starting a career in the NHS which included posts in Planning, Public Relations and the health watchdog - the Community Health Council. David was a member of Newport Operatic Society for over 25 years and continues as a chorister with the Dorothy Adams Singers (Adams Chorale). He contributes travel articles for local publications and nationally. David has retired to live in Tredunnock with his wife Rosamund. His first book, Time Was in Tredunnock, was published in 2018.

John Marshall

Starting life in South Yorkshire, after a 'normal' education to High School level, John joined the Police Cadets, and after three years of training and introduction to the Police world, he completed his training as a Police Constable, and was posted to a number of mining villages in South Yorkshire, before voluntarily transferring to Sussex, where he was posted to Rye, a beautiful 12th century market town close to the Kent border. His duties there included foot patrol around the town, and later as crew of the Sub Divisional response car, still working from Rye.

In the summer of 1983 he successfully applied for the post of village bobby in one of the village beats within Rye Sub Division, responsible for a number of villages covered by three different parish councils, and including a stretch of the Channel coast, and a coastal country park at Fairlight, just outside Hastings.

This idyllic life was interrupted in the autumn of 1984 by two major events. He was on duty for the Conservative Party conference in Brighton, when the Grand Hotel was bombed by the IRA. Shortly afterwards, for about a year, he found himself covering the miners' strike in various locations around the UK.

Towards the end of his service, he became involved in tutoring newly-appointed police constables, and then, on a monthly basis as an assessor, involved in the selection of potential recruits applying to join the Force. He also became involved in the training of Special Constables, and in the running and training of his Station's Police Cadet unit (See the poem - A Jubilee Walk!)

On retirement in 1999 he toured Europe in an American motor home, before settling with his wife Dorothy in rural Shropshire.

Sylvia Mason

Sylvia was educated at Lady Margaret High School, Cardiff, The Western Theological College, Bristol and Bristol University where she gained a BA and a PGCE.  While her son and daughter were young, she gained a masters degree with the Open University, her specialism being Victorian poetry. Her career was spent as a teacher of English in secondary schools in Bristol, Newport and the Valleys.

Since retirement, having more time has meant being able to develop her interests in music, art history, literature, travel and embroidery.  She particularly values the time she spends with her three lively granddaughters.

Kevin Moore

Kevin Moore joined Sussex Police at the age of twenty-one years in June 1978. His father was a serving officer with the Force having joined in the 1950s. This means that their joint careers span a total of over 60 years of policing.

After joining the police, the author spent his two-year probationary period at Brighton during which time he operated as a beat officer and area car driver/observer, before becoming a rural beat patrol officer at Camber near Rye in East Sussex.

A short while later, he entered  CID, the beginning of a long and productive career during which he climbed the ranks achieving the highest rank possible in the CID world of Detective Chief Superintendent and Head of Sussex’s CID. He also worked within the Professional Standards Department investigating complaints made against police officers.

He served as Chief Superintendent and Divisional Commander of Brighton and Hove during which time he was responsible for all police operations in the City. taking command of many large-scale public order demonstrations as well as other major public safety events. H e was a Senior Investigating Officer responsible for leading enquiries into homicide and other major crime investigations.

Following his retirement in 2009 after more than thirty-one years of service, he joined the newly formed S.E. Regional Organised Crime Unit as the Regional Intelligence Manager and then subsequently the Regional Prison Intelligence Manager. 

He fully retired from the police service in January of 2018.

He has been married to Ann for over forty years and has two grown up children and five grandchildren. He holds a BA (Hons) Degree in Public Sector and Police Studies and a Post Graduate Diploma in Police Studies. He is interested in football and cricket and is a season ticket holder with Brighton and Hove Albion F.C. and also now spends his time with his and his wife’s Golden Retriever dogs and their four horses.

Eleanor Pritchard

Eleanor Pritchard has been a freelance writer most of her working life, producing features and articles on everything from tourist attractions to health, real life stories to celebrity profiles. She also edits two specialist magazines. This is her first book, though there are plenty more in the offing. She lives in rural Wales with her husband and loves spending time in Australia with her daughters, sons-in-law and grand-daughters - plus their dogs. 

Usk Penthusiasts

Seven writers have contributed to this volume. They are all members of a small, informal writing group which meets regularly in the King’s Head Hotel, Usk, Monmouthshire.

Maggie Harkness was raised in Lancashire, lived in London and now in glorious Monmouthshire. She has worked as a lawyer and a counsellor and her writing reflects her interest in people.

Anna Hitch, Welsh by adoption, moved to Wales more than 40 year ago for a family life of semi self-sufficiency while continuing a career in the NHS.

Steve Hoselitz worked as a journalist before developing a second career as a craft potter, amateur gardener and professional grandfather…

Louise Longworth: ‘I have lived all over the place, due to a life spent as an actress, working in the theatre, television and radio. Having settled with my husband and family in Wales, and having taken up writing, I have been fascinated to find so many similarities between the two creative forms, for example in the development of characters and dialogue.’

Gerald Mason is a retired steelworker and twilight antique dealer addicted to fishing.

Margaret Payne moved from London to Wales 15 years ago. Now retired from teaching, she enjoys tai chi, knitting, morris dancing and, of course, creative writing.

Hugh Rose, ex-professional soldier, ex-professional gardener, ex-nomad, fell in love with Monmouthshire 42 years ago.