Celebrating Age – The Elder Tree, Writers

We are proud to welcome such an amazing array of talented writers to the Elder Tree project. Below is a list of our lead and shadow writers, who will be working with older people throughout the region, empowering and inspiring them to use their voice and create new work.

Jess Green – Lead Writer, Corby

BBC Slam Champion, Jess Green has performed at Glastonbury, Latitude, Bestival and the Edinburgh Fringe. Her first collection, Burning Books (Burning Eye Books, 2015) was shortlisted for the East Midlands Book Award and as a live show received 5* reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe and on its national tour. The theatre adaptation of Burning Books was longlisted for the Bread & Roses Theatre Award and toured nationally in 2018. Her second show, A Self Help Guide To Being In Love With Jeremy Corbyn, based around her second collection, received critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018 and tours throughout 2019.

Azma Dar – Shadow Writer, Corby

Azma has written for theatre, radio and screen, and her novel The Secret Arts has been published as an e-book by Dean Street Press.  A chapter from this won the New Ventures Writing Award, and her play Vampire in Bradford won the New Perspective Long Play Competition. She has also worked on several community projects.

She is currently working on a new novel and a new play, Noor, based on the true story of a female wireless operator, set during WW2. She has also received a DYCP Arts Council Award to write a novel for children.

Cathy Grindrod – Lead Writer, NE Derbyshire

Cathy Grindrod is an award-winning writer of poetry, plays and memoir, and a former Derbyshire Poet Laureate.  She was awarded an honorary degree by Derby University in 2014 for her work improving mental health through writing across Derbyshire communities.

She is an experienced facilitator, mentor and trainer, who specialises in Writing for Wellbeing and has worked on many community writing projects. She leads two writing courses for those aged 55+ at Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham and is currently developing a new programme of support and progression for writers – the Writer Highway.



Lydia Towsey – Lead Writer, Leicester

Lydia Towsey is a poet and performer with a master’s degree in Creative Writing. Previously shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize, she’s performed everywhere from London’s 100 Club and the House of Lords – to ‘On the Buses’ (as Literary Leicester and Arriva Buses’ Poet in Residence). Commissioned by the Guardian, Royal Albert Hall and Kew Gardens, amongst others, she’s undertaken three national tours of her work, supported by Arts Council England. In 2018 she was listed for the Outspoken London Prize for Poetry in Film, and in the national Saboteur Awards in the categories of ‘Best Show’ and ‘Best Spoken Word Performer’. In addition to her practice as a writer and performer, Lydia directs arts in health projects for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust. She is the co-artistic director of Brightsparks (www.brightsparksarts.uk) and the artistic director of WORD! (www.wordpoetry.co.uk) .


Trevor Wright – Shadow Writer, Leicester

Trevor Wright works part-time in social care and provides training and consultancy on autism. He is a regular performer at Nottingham and Derby poetry event, is the Co-Director of Derby Poetry Festival and has appeared at Nottingham and Gloucester Festivals.  He has facilitated writing workshops with refugees, older people and autistic people and was shadow writer on the 2018 Local and Vocal project in Ashfield and Mansfield. His first poetry collection Outsider Heart was published in 2016 by Nottingham’s Big White Shed with his second collection Salt Flow published in April 2019.

François Matarasso- Lead Writer, Leicester – Attenborough Arts

François Matarasso is a community artist, writer and researcher, whose work has been widely published and translated. He has served as trustee of NESTA, Arts Council England and the Baring Foundation and held honorary professorships in the UK and Australia. Between 2011 and 2015 he produced a series of short books on undervalued areas of cultural life, under the collective title Regular Marvels. His latest book A Restless Art, How participation won and why it matters, was published by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 2019.

Sabrina Mei-Li Smith – Shadow Writer, Leicester – Attenborough Arts

Sabrina Mei-Li Smith is a writer, lecturer, researcher and community artist. She has written for the BBC, the Royal Court Theatre, Bass Breweries, PGD Photography and Nottingham Playhouse. Her play, The Holy Bible, has been developed through Derby Theatre, Tamasha and ‘In Good Company’ and awaits Arts Council development. Currently, she is a tutor of creative writing, social and personal histories with Leicester City Council. The anthology Memories into Healing Words, which features co-created poems with Leicester’s elderly, will be published in September 2019. Sabrina is an Associate Lecturer and PhD scholar at De Montfort University and specialises in writing race, gender and counterculture.

Lynn Ludditt – Lead Writer, NE Derbyshire

Lynn Ludditt is an award-winning freelance writer/trainer specialising in the design and delivery of bespoke intergenerational community programmes. She has written the This is Me and Back in the Day reminiscence programmes for colleges as well as working in partnership with schools, women’s organisations, care settings, community groups and theatres. Lynn is currently writing a new theatre piece STUNG for North Derbyshire WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequalities). She also co-ordinates The Story Mine Project for DCC, mentors two writers as part of the Writing Ambitions’ Derbyshire Residencies programme and is reminiscence writer-in-residence for Matinee Dementia Screenings.

Leonie Martin – Shadow Writer, NE Derbyshire

Leonie Martin is a freelance writer and Writing for Wellbeing workshop facilitator. She has had short stories and poetry published in anthologies including the award-winning Perspectives (Wingerworth Wordsmiths, 2008). Leonie writes features for Reflections magazine and articles for health and faith related charities. During 2017/18 Leonie delivered a series of workshops in a variety of community settings as part of the Derbyshire Writing Residencies Scheme and has since been commissioned to deliver Writing for Wellbeing workshops for several other community groups. She also runs sessions with older people as an accredited volunteer with The Reader.


Kevin Fegan, Lead Writer, Lincolnshire

Kevin Fegan is a playwright and poet who has written to commission over 50 original plays – produced for a wide variety of theatres, including several award-winning shows, a Classic Serial and a Woman’s Hour Serial for BBC Radio 4. As well as working as a storyline writer for Granada TV’s Coronation St, Kevin has also published 10 books of poetry, edited dozens of anthologies and is a regular performer of his own work.

Kevin’s play Bess the Commoner Queen is touring nationally in 2019 and current commissions include Pull Up A Sandbag for Birmingham Hippodrome in June, which will be performed by war veterans and their families.



Lynne McEwan – Shadow Writer Lincolnshire

Lynne McEwan is a fledgling crime-fiction author based in Lincoln. Her first unpublished novel was long-listed for the Yeovil Prize in 2017 and gained her a London literary agent. She is currently working on a follow-up. Later this year she will begin an MA (Crime Fiction) at the University of East Anglia. She also enjoys poetry and historical novels and has run her village book group for 10 years. Previously, Lynne worked as a photojournalist for national newspapers and has covered stories including the first Gulf War and the Fall of the Berlin Wall.


Andy Barrett – Lead Writer, NE Derbyshire

Andy Barrett has written over fifty plays for radio and stage, including Dolly, a cloning meets country and western musical, which the Times selected as one of their top five shows of 2010; and Skybus which took place on board a bus to East Midlands Airport and back. His theatre company Excavate has worked with thousands of local people to produce plays about their histories, culture, stories and identity. Tony’s Last Tape, based on the Benn diaries, is about to have its fifth production and he is currently working on a community play for a slum in Pune, India.


Lizzie Dunford – Shadow Writer, NE Derbyshire

Lizzie grew up in Ulster, where she scribbled stories as the Troubles rumbled. Studying English Literature at university scared her off writing for decades, during which she taught English in secondary schools and focused on her family. At the age of fifty she began writing again and has recently completed her MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes with the Metanoia Institute. She is interested in the relationship between poetry and well-being, especially mental health, and is a member of Lapidus. Now working freelance, Lizzie is enjoying the vibrant writing community in Nottingham and playing with her baby grandson.


Owen Berkavitch – Lead Writer, Corby

Berkavitch is one of the most respected voices in the UK spoken-word scene. Former UK Slam Poetry Champion, Internationally acclaimed Storyteller, accomplished Breakdancer, Digital Artist and Animator.

Berkavitch has showcased his poetry at most UK music and literary festivals including Glastonbury, Latitude, Bestival, Reading, Leeds, The Cheltenham Literature Festival and the Hey Festival. He has performed at venues and theatres including The Royal Opera House, The RSC, The Old Vic, Royal Festival Hall, Roundhouse Camden, Contact Theatre, The BAC, The Albany, Nottingham Playhouse, The MAC and numerous others across the country.

Berkavitch has toured poetry and spoken-word across Europe and Asia as well as having pieces commissioned by theatres and companies including Apples and Snakes, The Southbank, Saddler’s Wells and Curve Theatre Leicester.

His work has been featured on Radio 1, Radio 1Xtra and Radio 4.

Leanne Moden – Shadow Writer, Corby

Leanne Moden is a poet and workshop leader from Nottingham. She has performed at events across Europe, including recent sets in Estonia and Spain, as well as regular appearances at UK Festivals like WOMAD, the Edinburgh Fringe, the Nottingham Poetry Festival and Bestival on the Isle of Wight. Leanne has performed at the Fourth Wave Feminist Festival in Hackney Downs, Trinity College Cambridge and as part of the TEDx WOMEN talk at UCL in 2016.

As a workshop leader, Leanne has facilitated sessions in a wide variety of settings including schools, care homes, hospitals, libraries and museums.  She has worked as writer in residence at the National Justice Museum, Nottingham City Council, the Museum of Cambridge, and the Ely Folk Festival, and has provided workshops for Creative North Nottingham, Arts Alive in Libraries, Arts Council England, the Nottingham Poetry Festival, Nottingham Writers’ Studio, and the University of Nottingham.

Leanne is currently working on a full-length spoken word show with the support of Arts Council England, and her first collection will be published in 2020. She is also part of the team at UNESCO Nottingham City of Literature.

Rob Gee – Lead Writer, Leicester

Comic, poet and psychiatric nurse, Rob has toured the UK, Europe, Australia and North America. He’s won numerous poetry slams, including the Edinburgh Slam, BBC2’s Why Poetry Matters Slam and the Orlando Poetry Smackdown, as well as over twenty awards for his solo shows. He’s shared stages with Sue Townsend (Adrian Mole), Harold Pinter, Jo Brand and Sarah Millican, and regularly leads poetry, comedy and creative writing workshops in healthcare settings.


Bea Udeh – Shadow Writer, Leicester

Bea Udeh has worked in the arts and cultural sector for almost 20 years. Her areas of expertise include creativity, audience development and cultural diversity.  She has held varied roles nationally including artist, independent arts consultant, producer, project manager and motivational speaker.

Bea work has been published in poetry books and arts and culture review magazines.  As a creative workshop practitioner, her practice includes evaluating projects for her clients or designing workshops on writing, confidence building and mentoring.  Bea enjoys taking the process of words in 2-D into organic presentations and performance that intersects language, personal experiences and artforms.


Jamie Thrasivoulou – Lead Writer, Corby

Jamie Thrasivoulou is an award-winning writer, poet, and educator from Derby. His work has been published by The Morning star, Culture Matters and Hi-Vis Press, amongst others. His debut collection The Best Of A Bad Situation was published via Silhouette Press in 2017. His next collection Our Man will be published through Burning Eye Books in July 2019. He was a winner of the Culture Matters: Bread & Roses Award in 2018, and a member of the 2019 UNISLAM winning team with Birmingham University. He is the writer-in-residence at HMP Foston Hall and the official poet of Derby County Football Club.

Lytisha Tunbridge – Shadow Writer, LINCS/Grantham

Lytisha Tunbridge is a writer, performer and workshop leader with an MA in Creative Writing. She works with people living with dementia, multilingual and cross-generational groups. Her pamphlet Every Last Biscuit was published in 2017 by Green Feather Books and she has written for theatre and various anthologies. Lytisha is Chair of World Jam, Nottingham’s global poetry and music collective. She produces events as Poetry Aloud at festivals: Stuff of Life, NPF, Exile Festival. She has performed at Edinburgh Fringe, Splendour, Nottingham Poetry Festival, Inspire Poetry Festival and Buxton Festival as well as internationally at Speakeasy, Brussels, Poetry Live, Auckland and Inside Out, Ponsonby, NZ.

Michelle Hubbard – Lead Writer, LINCS/Grantham

Michelle ‘Mother’ Hubbard is an award-winning poet, storyteller, African drummer, workshop facilitator and events co-ordinator. Founder member of BLACKDROP spoken word events and facilitator of Pendrop writing group. Michelle has over 20 years experience facilitating in schools, community centres, libraries, prisons and residential homes, in the public and voluntary sector, She has performed on stage and on radio. Her anthologies include Poets In The Pink, Ten Years of The Chase, Edinburgh Review, Hair Power Skin Revolution, Celebrate Wha, Sweet Beats For Keats, Chosen: Living with Adoption and more. She has self-published The Tapestry of a Black Woman and The Irish-Jamaican.

Michelle is currently developing a one-woman show titled Cutting Edge.

Angie Cottle – Shadow Writer, TBC

Angie Cottle is part of Derbyshire County Council’s Writing Ambitions Scheme delivering Community Writing workshops.

Through Writers in the Peak, she co-ordinates the Little Echoes Children’s Writing Project – a not-for-profit venture within primary schools to deliver children’s arts workshops and produce published anthologies of children’s writing.

With over 20 years experience teaching expressive arts, writing, directing, designing and choreographing more than 30 public performances, she now specialises in children’s and family writing and encouraging under-confident adults of all ages to express themselves creatively.