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The Interview

Local writer and storyteller, George Murphy interviews local characters and personalities

Simon Manfield

George Murphy's latest interview reveals the life and career of artist Simon Manfield. A man who crossed the world to find a place that feels like home. Simon shares reflections on his childhood in Australia, his love of drawing and how he was inspired by the works of George Mackay Brown. He also details the events leading up to his brilliant and moving depiction of the uncovering of the remains of Spaniards slain by Franco's firing squads during the Spanish Civil War.

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Louise Wadley

In George Murphy's latest interview, find out about the dynamic, tenacious and multi skilled Director of Hebden Bridge Film Festival and how her interest in theatre developed into a love of film.

Louise Wadley answers George's questions on organising and choosing films for the festival, meeting her partner Jay, Lockdown, making movies, teaching film, her life as a student in London, moving from Brisbane to London, back to Australia and then to Hebden Bridge, how she relaxes and what she thinks of our town.

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Linda Hodges

Read George Murphy's latest interview and the remarkable story of a local photographer who

- rediscovered Hebden Bridge

- found an old flame who became her life's partner

- and after decades of searching, and strange intimations, found a father and a new family.

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Agustina Figueras

Ahead of the 2024 Hebden Bridge Film Festival (15-17 March), George Murphy interviewed Hebden Bridge's much travelled board member and Volunteers Co-ordinator, Agustina Figueras.

Agustina tells of how she fell in love with cinema from an early age, her life as a student, the challenges of screenwriting in a second language, the uniqueness of our Film Festival, the multi-disciplinary nature of film making, what she loves about Hebden Bridge and news about her next big project.

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Satnam Singh

Satnam Singh has been the Hebden Bridge Sub Postmaster since 2008.

Here he reveals how he used his own money to make up for losses shown on the faulty Fujitsu Horizon program. When George Murphy met up with him, he was struck by his dynamism and determination to carry on serving the community.

Here he shares examples of his charitable works and memories of helping his parents in their corner shop, some glorious and tragic events and how he coped with the effects of the Boxing Day flood on his business.

Finally, he considers what he hopes will happen next to those who lied in court and knowingly ruined the lives and reputations of so many innocent, hardworking sub postmasters.

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Ian Humphreys

George Murphy: Happy New Year and welcome to the latest interview with a talented local. I've been a big fan of Ian Humphreys' writing, so I was delighted that Ian found time in his busy schedule to talk about his life, his work and his response to living in Hebden Bridge.

Ian is currently the Writer in Residence at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. His writing bibliography is included below.

We met for a chat at a local pub before the holiday period. I felt I wanted to focus on Ian rather than, say, giant wind turbines! Here's his responses to the questions I sent him.

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Horatio Clare

The latest interview features writer and broadcaster, Horatio Clare. I caught up with him at a local hostelry to hear his views on issues including mental health, farming, travel, SAD, music, world affairs and life in Hebden Bridge. Here's what other people have written about his books:

Running for the Hills: "So beautifully written that you almost hold your breath." Daily Mail

Down to the Sea in Ships: "Magnificent." Robert Macfarlane

Something of his Art: "Horatio Clare has the voice of a great storyteller." Michael Morpurgo

Heavy Light: " … a record of the bravest, most intrepid journey that any human being can ever make." Richard Coles

Read George Murphy's interview with Horatio Clare

Moira and Louis Benoit

For his latest interview, George Murphy met up with mother and son artists, Moira and Louis Benoit. Their work can currently be enjoyed at The Artworks in Halifax. George learned about their Mytholmroyd backgrounds, and what has inspired them along the way.

Read George Murphy's interview with Moira and Louis Benoit

Andrew Smith

The latest interview features photographer and B&B owner, Andrew Smith.

Andy's Q&A reveals a genuine, whole hearted man, whose responses are amusing, moving and life affirming.

Discover how his early fascination with photography, and friendship with fellow law student, Keir Starmer, made headline news in recent times - and why he happened to be in the right place at the right time!

Many of you will know and enjoy Andrew's photographs of people and scenery in Upper Calder, but here he also reveals his adventures on the ocean waves. I have been fascinated by his tales of family and friends in good times and bad. Andrew Smith: human dynamo!

Read George Murphy's interview with Andrew Smith

Sammy Weaver

In this latest interview, George Murphy discusses with award winning poet Sammy Weaver her early life and how poetry helped her to cope with a family tragedy. Having been a prison educator and writing tutor, she shares her strong convictions on the need for prison reform. Discover her unconventional career path, leading, via life in a circus, to work as Deputy Director of Lumb Bank.

Read George Murphy's interview with Sammy Weaver.

John Pickering

Discover the key role played by Hebden Bridge solicitor John Pickering in supporting workers and families seeking compensation and justice after what he described as the greatest disaster in Britain's industrial history, at Acre Mill in Old Town. And how John and his colleagues worked to reveal the tragic consequences of all those exposed to asbestos, along with his fears for the future.

Read George Murphy's interview with John Pickering.

Chris Goddard

Chris Goddard was fascinated by maps and map-making from an early age.

Discover how he graduated from making childhood maps of his locality and on family trips to exotic locations, to become a successful writer, illustrator and cartographer.

He also reveals his taste in music, how he met his partner, what luxuries he would want to take on a desert island and much more.

Read George Murphy's interview, and questions and answers, with Chris Goddard.

Jill Liddington

Here's the latest interview from George Murphy, with renowned historian Jill Liddington, an authority on Anne Lister and the Suffragettes.

Find out about the life and times of Jill, her involvement in the Women's Movement, how Jill came to be a historian, collaborating with Sally Wainwright, the impact of Gentleman Jack on book sales, how she relaxes, her tastes in music and Jill's advice to young historians.

Read George Murphy's interview, and questions and answers, with Jill Liddington.

Richard Whitaker

George Murphy writes: 'What impresses me when I stroll through our local stone masons yard are the skills of the masons and the politeness and affability of the workers, led by Richard Whitaker. I was keen to find out more about the history of Whitaker Brothers and whether Richard had always wanted to join the family business. I discovered more about the prestigious projects the firm has undertaken in recent years and his reflections on moving down to the valley with drama teacher Jesse and son Joe.

Read George Murphy's interview, and questions and answers, with Richard Whitaker.

Jill Robinson

Discover Jill Robinson's tale of a woman who escaped a life of drudgery to pursue her dream of entering higher education and her goal of becoming an author. It's the story of a single mother who became a Community Service Volunteer, journalist and writer of popular fiction with a devoted readership. Find out what she thinks of life in the Upper Valley (and why she has taken up knitting!) in the latest HebWeb Interview by George Murphy.

Read George Murphy's interview, and questions and answers, with Jill Robinson

Helen Baron

Featuring the prestigious DJ Helen Baron, who has made lots of people happy with her disc spinning. Now read about what she she does for a day job, how she got started as a DJ, her choice of all time favourite records, her shop, what she would save from a shipwreck and lots more.

Read George Murphy's interview, and questions and answers, with Helen Baron

Andrew Leatherbarrow

Meet the team leader for Canal & River Trust Volunteers - a Lancastrian, who has lived round here for forty years, Andy exudes energy and has spent his whole career working outdoors, setting himself challenges and supporting younger people who wanted to follow him up mountains, kayak down rivers and ramble across moors. Now he organises and inspires the local heroes who keep our waterways in good order, whatever the weather.

Read George Murphy's interview, and questions and answers, with Andrew Leatherbarrow

Michael Ryan, publisher, photographer, climber and wild swimmer, is the subject of the latest interview by author and storyteller George Murphy. Child of a professional entertainer, author of beautifully produced guide books, Guardian photography guru, read about Mick's passion for climbing, alongside his photographs of the moors, cloughs and crags of upper Calder. Read the Interview

Discover the fascinating life and times - and past times - of teacher and musician Diana Monahan - the signal box, meeting Michael Portillo, being a flood warden, litter picking, her limerick writing husband and more in the latest instalment of The HebWeb Interview from storyteller and author George Murphy. Read the Interview

HebWeb Interview: David Kennedy

Discover the wonderful world of Winston Plowes: writer, runner, plate spinner, poem finder, land artist, Dadaist, teacher, collaborator, musician and mind expander in the latest posting of The HebWeb Interview, as told to George Murphy. Read George Murphy's interview with Winston Plowes

Terry Logan, musician

This HebWeb interview focuses on Mytholmroyd musician and Black Pride counsellor and activist Terry Logan, including performances, photos, her reflections on lockdown and her hopes for the future.

After performing at Hebden Bridge's Happy Valley Pride Weekend, Mytholmroyd's dynamic soul, reggae, folk musician Terry Logan explains how she developed her music during lockdown. Looking back, Terry describes how her mixed heritage has influenced her song writing.

Read George Murphy's interview with Terry Logan, and questions and answers.

David Anthony Kennedy

The latest HebWeb Interview focuses on local artist David Anthony Kennedy. Read about David's sometimes "wonky" progress through life and marvel at his determination to overcome tragedy and setbacks, his love for Hebden Bridge and the motivations behind Me, myself and why, his current exhibition at the Town Hall.

Read George Murphy's interview with David Kennedy, and questions and answers.

Steve Tilston

Steve Tilston is one of the country's most celebrated singer songwriters, renowned for his lyrics, arrangements and brilliant guitar playing. You may also recognise him as the inspiration for the Hollywood movie, Danny Collins and I was keen to share his reflections on Lennon's 'lost letter'.

Since his debut album, An Acoustic Confusion, fifty years ago, Steve has produced highly regarded collections, won folk awards for male vocalist of the year and topped listeners' polls for best CD.

Read George Murphy's interview with Steve Tilston, and questions and answers.

Professor Rebecca Lawton

Professor of Healthcare, Rebecca Lawton - a psychologist who has investigated the high death rate of railway shunters, talks about the health challenges of the pandemic, growing up with hippy parents in Hull, how she wouldn't live anywhere but Hebden Bridge, volunteering with Calder Valley Youth Theatre and Van Morrison. She warns that "We are already seeing high levels of burnout in the NHS and I think that this is only likely to increase as a result of the pandemic."

Read George Murphy's interview with Professor Rebecca Lawton, and questions and answers.

Richard Carter

Author Richard Carter, explains how he combined his interests in history, nature and science with his personal responses to his rambles on the moorlands above Heights Road to write his celebrated book On the Moor.

He argues that his hero Charles Darwin should be regarded as the greatest Briton of all time and shares his opinions on rewilding, grouse shooting, wind turbines and global warming. Find out what makes him laugh - and what he thinks about Hebden Bridge.

Read George Murphy's interview with Richard Carter, and questions and answers.

Sarah Courtney

Discover Sarah Courtney’s past and present in the latest HebWeb Interview: musician, comedian, language teacher, lorry driver, scuba diver, botanist, fundraiser, foster carer, mother, bar tender, ASD support worker, photographer, open mic enabler, office manager and Calderdale Councillor!

But what does she do in her spare time?

Read George Murphy's interview with Sarah Courtney, and questions and answers.

Rob Collins

Meet Hebden Bridge's very own luthier! Chemical engineer turned musical instrument maker, Rob Collins sells ukuleles and other musical instruments to buyers from all round the world. With his wife, Mary Agnes Krell (see HebWeb Interview 5), Rob and other volunteer organisers have won a Queen's Award for putting on a grand Northern festival.

A man who can make sweet music from a tin can, Rob is unafraid of any challenge, including jumping out of a plane from 14,000 feet! He also invites you to pluck up courage, once lockdown is unlocked, and make music with him and a friendly crowd of pluckers at a famous local hostelry.

Read George Murphy's interview with Rob Collins, and questions and answers.

Debs Newbold

The HebWeb Interview features award winning theatre artist and storyteller Debs Newbold.

Read about her theatrical triumphs and her family's love of upper Calder. Learn about Deb's Brummie upbringing, Hebden wedding and zest for outdoors.

There's an analysis of Les Dawson, a championing of The Globe Theatre, insights into how Shakespeare still helps actors, a talking cat and much more!

Read George Murphy's interview with Deb Newbolds, and questions and answers.

Tristan Langlois

As lockdown prepares to unlock, Hebden Bridge storyteller and museum educator, Tristan Langlois is in the HebWeb spotlight.

Read about past and present pleasures, fell running, his early jobs and his current role at the prestigious Royal Armouries. Even more importantly, Tristan is Chairman of Hebden’s famous Shaggydog Storytellers!

The son of Anglo-French parents, he discusses his early years spent in France and Wales. Tristan explains how his love of storytelling has fed into his work

Read George Murphy's interview with Tristan Langlois', and questions and answers.

Nicola Jones

Nicola shares her experiences as an ally of gay friends; recounts tales of prejudice and abuse during the early years of the Aids pandemic; describes the excitement of growing up during the 1980s Manchester music boom, her favourite bands and records; why she moved to Hebden Bridge - and plans to stay here; her work with Hebden Civic Trust; what lockdown has been like for a single person living on her own; her favourite places to hang out, and much, much more.

Read Nicola Jones' interview, and questions and answers.

Benjamin Myers

Award winning novelist Benjamin Myers, lives in Mytholmroyd with his wife, novelist Adelle Stripe.

His novels include The Offing and The Gallows Pole, which won the Walter Scott Prize.

Ben describes his early start as a writer, playing in a band, music journalism, the influence of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, his reaction to Lockdown, the scope and theme of his new short story collection, and much more.

Read Benjamin Myers's interview, and questions and answers.

Kate Lycett

Hebden Bridge artist Kate Lycett is well known for her captivating portrayals of Hebden Bridge and its surrounding towns, villages and countryside. In the latest HebWeb Interview, she describes growing up in Suffolk, her time as a fine art student, her early employment and how she rediscovered her true vocation.

Kate discusses her latest project, explains the lasting influence of textile design on her style, how she is coping with lockdown and why the Pennines inspire her work. Thanks to readers for suggesting some of Kate's questions.

Read Kate Lycett's interview, and questions and answers.

Peter Riley

Writer Peter Riley shares childhood memories of wartime bombings, homemade entertainment and the first time he met his father. He explains how teachers inspired his love of poetry and travel.

His many occupations have included encyclopaedia researcher, language tutor and bookseller. Peter reflects on free improvisation, moving north, Parkinson’s Disease, the lure of Hebden Bridge and where he’d like to eat after lockdown.

He is the author of more than twenty publications, has been poetry editor for the Fortnightly Review since 2012, and the recipient of the Cholmondeley Prize ‘for achievement and distinction in poetry’. Since moving to the area his Due North (2015) was shortlisted for The Forward Prize and a two volume Collected Poems (2018) was also published by Shearsman.

Read Peter Riley's interview, and questions and answers.

Chris Green

Chris Green OBE is the driving force behind White Ribbon UK. Find out about his inspirational, action packed life: his decade of communal living, his work for Co-ops and community businesses, his times in Finland, Derry, Palestine, Brick Lane, Grunswick - and on anti fascist marches. The Q&A reveals his hobbies and interests, the ideology behind his campaigns, the ups and downs of living in the Pennines and which records he'd choose on a desert island. Also, how HB compares with Tod!

Read Chris Green's interview, and questions and answers.

Bryony Mylroie-Smith

Meet a highly educated, super fit, much travelled, born and bred Hebden Bridge woman, who set up a successful business, had a child and then had to deal with COVID!

A story for our times to continue the series of The HebWeb Interview into 2021.

Read Bryony Mylroi Smith's questions and answers.

Malcolm Struthers

The story of a recent offcumden: Malcolm describes what attracted him and his husband to Hebden Bridge, the team work involved in Happy Valley Pride and the Film Festival, why he changed careers, his hero, a dog rescue, love for running and Iceland and much more!

Read Malcolm Struthers's questions and answers.

Andrew Bibby

Andrew Bibby has lived in Hebden Bridge for over 30 years and has certainly made his mark, not least for having been a key member of the team that led to the rebuilding of the Town Hall. Andrew tells George Murphy of his interest in walking, running, singing with choirs and the Community Land Trust. As a journalist and author, Andrew's works include books about the English landscape and outdoors and, recently, a trilogy of crime fiction titles set in the Lake District.

Read Andrew Bibby's questions and answers.

Mary Agnes Krell

Professor Mary Krell is Director of Teaching and Learning for the School of Media, Film and Music at Sussex University. In normal times, she commutes each week from Mytholm to the south coast. She's also, in non-Covid times, producer and director of the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival (GNUF) which attracts visitors and performers from across the world.

Read Mary Agnes Krell's questions and answers.

John Billingsley

A tale of a writer and offcumden, expelled from school, rebellious in Essex and Paris, of a boat and three ladies - one of them an iron one - of escapes to Mytholmroyd, Japan and Hebden Bridge; a man wrapt in nature, libraries, magazines and music …

Read John Billingsley's questions and answers.

Heather Wilson, (aka H)

I was born in London, adopted at 17 months old, moved to Warwick for 10 years, then back to London again, to the Lucy Clayton Modelling School.

I left London in 1993 to do my Art Degree in Ipswich, Suffolk.

23 years on, I have my Shop/Studio upstairs in Bridge Mill, above Innovations in St. George's Square, where I paint bespoke water colour pictures which tell the client's life story.

Read Heather Wilson's questions and answers.

Marco Nizzardo

I was born very little in 1970 in Florence, where I grew up my first 10 years.

My English mother came from Guernsey. Father had a restaurant called The Sword, near Piazza Santa Maria Novella. We moved north in the 80s, near Milano. Father had a restaurant called il Passatore after a famous Italian brigand (the Italian Robin Hood, who used to rob the rich, full stop).

Read Marco's questions and answers.

Amanda and Debbie Elwen

Amanda and Debbie have worked in the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls sector for 25 years and are the founders of the first EVAWG Hub in the UK. Debbie was recently identified as one of the most influential women in the UK for her work and Amanda sits on the board for Women's Aid National. Read their questions and answers.