Petra The Shipwright and the ‘Cornelia Anna’

Petra Potasse is a talented shipwright…a rare female in a male world.  She lives on her beloved 118-year old Dutch barge, the ‘Cornelia Anna’, and she sails to where the work is.  Since she came over from the Netherlands 13 years ago, leaving a career as an English and Arts and Crafts teacher behind,  she has worked on several projects up and down the East Anglian coast as lead shipwright and as teacher and trainer, with the Mayflower Project, to a younger generation of boatbuilders.   For the last three years she has worked with Richard and Steve Wyatt at Bedwells Boatyard  in Walton-on-the-Naze. 

The Curse of Foggy Quay

The jaw dropping story of how the Mistley community fought back when a Sangatte-style steel fence was erected all along this beautiful old quay in Essex. The power of Pantomime!!! Never to be underestimated…there’s an interesting cross-dressing sub-plot too. 

Posh Bird…Rough Diamond

Laughter and unspoken tears in this podcast about the importance of prison mentoring and music! Thank you @yourownplace_ and @brittenpearsarts , residents and staff at HMP Warren Hill in Suffolk, extraordinary mentors and mentee for having the confidence in me to make this podcast. Being allowed to record really sensitive subjects like this is not a given, I can tell you, and I feel every atom of the responsibility. 

Miss Bayley’s Geography Class

(This is the last episode of Series 1 of ‘Changing Lives’.  Series 2 will start in September 2020)
Children across the world are being taught in a myriad different ways at the moment.  Schools are having to reinvent the very nature of schooling.  Some are relishing the opportunity and encouraging their teachers to be as creative as possible and some are not.  This is one young teacher’s story.

I include a few short clips from an interview with the Head of OFSTED (the Office for Standards in Education in the UK), Amanda Spielman, with presenter Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4’s morning news programme ‘Today’ last week.  

Meditations On The Plague Episode 10 of ‘Changing Lives’

Albert Camus’ philosophical novel, ‘La Peste’, is being read voraciously all over the world at the moment.  Written in 1947 it resonates with us today in a way Camus would probably never have imagined.  In this podcast we hear excerpts of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1957 in which he describes the role of the writer in a world under constant threat by malign forces.  As we make the first tentative steps to come out of lockdown and emerge into a world where we will be living with an ongoing pandemic for the foreseeable future, I asked three academics to look at the lessons we can take from and parallels we can see in plagues from the past, using ‘La Peste’ as a springboard.  This is a montage of their reflections which are diverse but complementary and their message, like Camus’, is one of guarded optimism.  
 We hear from Professor Rosemary Lloyd, Fellow Emerita of Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, and Professor Emerita in French at Indiana University, Dr. Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and former Archbishop of Canterbury and Mark Bailey, Professor of Late Medieval History at the University of East Anglia and High Master of St. Paul’s School.  Professor Bailey delivered the James Ford Lectures at Oxford University in 2019 on his specialist subject of thirty years, the Black Death, ‘The End of Serfdom and The Rise of The West’.      

Laugh Time with Flora Episode 9 of ‘Changing Lives’

Many people are reinventing themselves under lockdown.  So, when an email popped into my inbox 10 days ago inviting me to 15 minutes of smiling, laughing and connecting to boost my immune system and lift my mood for the rest of day, I thought ‘Yes…that’s exactly what we ALL need’ so I made a podcast about it.  Flora Wellesley Wesley is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and writer and sits on the council of Equity (choreographers’ seat).  She is also a founder member of Nora, a contemporary dance ensemble who make highly original work constantly challenging boundaries.  In this podcast we hear pieces of Nora’s work woven through Flora’s laughter workshop and a sung portrait of her made for ’52 portraits’ at Sadler’s Wells.

“When you laugh, you change and when you change the whole world changes around you.” – Dr Madan Kataria, medical doctor and founder of Laughter Yoga

‘Thank you very much…for 16 minutes of « Sérénité , bien-être et joie ».’

‘Absolutely enchanting to listen to….started my day with right (and restorative!) laugh.’

Your Own Place in the World Episode 8 of ‘Changing Lives’

In the last week of February the wind blew me in to The Training Flat in Norwich where an eager group of young people were tucking into pizza, some chatting and laughing, some quiet and shy but all engaged.  This was a 3-day Tenancy and Independent Living Skills Plus (TILS+) training course to help set them up on their feet in the outside world.  The course is one of many invented and run by the social enterprise, Your Own Place, which was set up by Rebecca White in 2013 with the specific aim of preventing homelessness. They also have a network of mentors in the community who they train to support people leaving home or care and people approaching and after release from prison.  The team has suddenly, like every single social enterprise, or other business across the country, had to completely rethink how they operate under lockdown and how to reach all the people who need their support more than ever.  In this podcast we hear from CEO Rebecca, talented trainers, Jarrod and Jess, and past TILS+ trainee, Simon, who is now a member of their Youth Advisory Board… and last, but not least, a roomful of bright and lively young people who have all had many challenges in their lives.

Piano:  Henrietta Faire
‘Fantasie und Fuge A-moll’ by Johann Sebastian Bach
‘Vals Poético’ by Enrique Granados

Every Breath You Take…After Ep. 7 of Changing Lives

These are three interviews with three remarkable people from my previous podcast who I caught up with to find out what their experience of the last few weeks has been as the corona virus has taken hold in the UK and the whole country is under lockdown.  The Breathe Music classes were cancelled two weeks ago and Elmi and Noel are in the strictest form of self-isolation and Linda, who has worked as a specialist respiratory nurse for 20 years, is about to join the team of hard-pressed staff working in intensive care.  She has volunteered for this post and I spoke to her on Monday evening after a day’s training in how they are managing in daily changing circumstances on the front line.  Her description of a set of lungs that were examined post mortem will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Every Breath You Take…Before

Episode 6 of ‘Changing Lives’

In September 2019, when most of us would hardly have been giving a thought to the functioning of our lungs, I went to record a singing session with Breathe Music in Essex.  It was a beautiful autumn day.  Children were playing in the playground outside the community hall.  Nobody had any idea what lay over the horizon.  This podcast comes in two parts…Before and After.    In the first we hear harpist Mary Anne Barclay who founded Breathe Music five years ago and Linda Leech, a nurse specialist in lung health who prescribes singing for her patients.   All the singers you hear here are under the strictest form of self isolation now and Linda is about to join the hard-pressed specialist nurses working in intensive care.  I catch up with them in the second part of this podcast.  Mary Anne’s harp-playing weaves its way through the piece and I have deliberately left the ending unedited so you can experience the calm felt by the singers at the end of the session.  No more coughs…just peace and companionship.

 Mary Anne can be contacted at