I always wanted to study languages but my father was a scientist and insisted I take science A levels. I didn’t do as well as he hoped (too immersed in music/fashion) so took a degree in Librarianship which was the only course I could find to allow me to study a language (Russian) without an A level. Like many people from the north-east I moved to London on graduation in 1986 in search of work. I did part-time and volunteer work for three years before joining British Council. With that job I had the opportunity to travel a lot and, eventually, to spend 10 years working abroad. I had always been interested in the arts, particularly visual arts and theatre, and through British Council worked with many well-known artists in various art forms. However towards the end of my career (I didn’t know it then) I got bored with the administrative aspects of my job and decided to study for an MA in Art History through the Open University. I then decided to leave my job (and career of many years) to stay in Moscow and programme contemporary art exhibitions for a new gallery. After five years I decided to take some time out from running a gallery to do some research and writing and that’s what I’m doing at the moment. I’ve decided to volunteer for Arts Emergency because I am from a northern working class background, benefited from free higher education (a long time ago…) and was very fortunate in working with a number of people who were generous with their time and contacts.