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Great Shelford's noteable village people

Christopher Jenkin from Great Shelford is the chairman of It Takes a City (ITAC), a homelessness charity in Cambridge, which he set up in 2018 as a group of voluntary organisations, businesses, faith groups and individuals committed to sharing the city’s prosperity with a focus on ending local homelessness.

Christopher was one of a handful of people from the Shelford to attend the King's Coronation. This is his account of the special day.

I received the initial invitation by email, to my great surprise, weeks ago. I almost missed it, being away at the time. And I could not work out “why me!” But I immediately booked hotel and train. It was not until Buckingham Palace announced that 450 recipients of the British Empire Medal had been invited, especially those that had received the award to recognise their work during COVID-19, that it became clear why: I was one of them. My focus had been helping 100s of Cambridge homeless people off the streets, arranging good accommodation and excellent food and support, bringing together a wide network of volunteers and organisations. All part of It Takes a City, the community response to homelessness I founded in 2018.


The beautifully inscribed and handwritten invitation arrived in the post a couple of weeks before the Coronation – envelopes stamped Buckingham Palace do not arrive very often!


The day dawned cool but clear, with the threat of rain. All of us, small and great alike, queued from just after 7am and were shepherded through a long line of “street-liners” – wonderful cheerful volunteers who had all been up since 2.30 – and into the security check-in area. Possibly the friendliest screening and bag check ever.


The Abbey hits you on first entry – the colours, the coronation theatre, the scale, the array of people from the suited and day-dressed to the ermined and robed all mixed together, all trying to find their seats. I got lost but was eventually guided.


In my seat – “no wandering around please and no photos! – by about 8am, it was time to study the large and beautifully printed order of service. Looking around I did not recognise anyone – some with BEMs like me, some with extensive rows of medals, some with none. Quite a few “pals of the royal households” were with me: but no invites to tea came along.


Most in the Abbey had to see most of the proceedings on a TV screen, not always nearby – we were a small group with a big screen so were really engaged. It was a profound experience, spiritually, lending my voice to the King and Queen and saying “amen” to the Archbishop’s proclamations, and musically, an extraordinary quality of composition and playing. I downloaded the recording – it still moves me.


The time flew by as we concentrated on the words and the actions – over five hours of sitting was relieved by a lot of standing during the service – but once the main procession had left, we could “wander around”.


After leaving the Abbey it was not possible to walk round to see the procession to Buckingham Palace – those places were filled hours before and everywhere was locked down! So it was back to the hotel, a cup of coffee with a fellow attendee, lunch and a wander home, digesting the sights and sounds into a life-long memory of a great day, a great privilege and a great blessing."

Read a profile of Chris Jenkin

Posted May 24 2023


Cindy Forde is a Great Shelford based author, acclaimed environmentalist, and founder of Planetari.


In October 2022, Cindy released the new book Bright New World, a non-fiction climate change book with a difference. The book is a lavishly illustrated glimpse into a future, not too far from our own time - a world in which today's children have grown up and tackled the world's most pressing social and environmental problems.


In a series of lush, detailed scenes, illustrated by Bethany Lord, readers enter a world of solar-powered vehicles, regenerated rainforests, skyscraper farms, insect-based snacks, recovering coral reefs, wave-powered electricity, and much more. The book profiles the biggest names in eco-innovation today, as well as some of the brightest young inventors, entrepreneurs, and activists, all of whom are making the world better, one step at a time.


Cindy Forde lives in Great Shelford and is the founder of Planetari, the organisation dedicated to worldwide environmental education. She has worked with leaders across sectors including the UN, government, NGOs, finance, business, technology and education. She was CEO of the Cambridge Science Centre and Managing Director of the Blue Marine Foundation, where she headed a global team dedicated to protecting and regenerating the world's oceans.

Posted Oct 5 2022

David Rayner founded the Scotsdales Garden Centre. He died in January 2023
This is a tribute from Charlie Nightingale, former District Councillor and former Parish Council Chairmanr
"I’ve known David for about 40 years and his been a good friend
"David was the kindest person you could meet he had time for everybody and I mean everybody nobody pasted him without him have a chat.
In the past few years we spent a lot of time with him building the David Rayner building the home of Cambridge Cancer Centre this building named after him is a testament to his kindness made a donation of £100,00p and use of land at Scotsdales For this to be built it is used by many other groups as well now.
"David kindness touched so many people especially in Shelford there isn’t many groups that he hasn’t help in some way.
"David sponsored the roundabout at Shelford bottom which is about to bloom again in the next few weeks
"Scotsdales gave large contributions to many Shelford charities Children’s playgrounds, Arthur Rank hospital, Shelford Feast to name but few all though the kindness of a truly kind and generous man who many will miss him."
Read an obituary in the Cambridge Independent.

Shelford writer Sarah Vaughan's novel, Anatomy of a Scandal, is currently being made into a series for Netflix. The series starts on Netflix on April 15.

Read Sarah's latest blog about her TV series.

Anatomy of a Scandal was published in paperback in October 2018. The book appeared in the Sunday Times top 10.


Her most recent novel, Little Disasters, was published in paperback in March 2021. 

Sarah's next novel Reputation, is being published in March 2022.


She saw her first book The Art of Baking Blind published in 2014. The book was published in paperback in August 2015.

Sarah started writing the book in earnest the week her son Jack started school in September 2012 in the same month she turned 40.


She had been mulling ideas over for five months before then. Writing's not in her genes but she did once win a writing comp - Devon Young Writer of the Year - aged ten.

Brenda Bishop helped with this book by lending Sarah old cookbooks from the 1950s and 60s.

One of the character, Kathleen Eaden, is a play on Eden. Sarah took the name with its obvious play from Eaden Lilley in Great Shelford.

Sarah and her family lived in Little Shelford between 2010 and 2021 before moving to Great Shelford in 2021.


She worked at the Guardian from 1997. Her big break was on the weekend Diana died, no one was around and she had to write 2,000 words very quickly. She left the Guardian in November 2008. 

She met various celebrities while working in the media. Prime Minister David Cameron signed her mortgage form; she travelled with Tony Blair and interviewed Leonardo di Caprio; Sarah also covered Soham and Sarah Payne and Mirror libel case involving Naomi Campbell and the first Stephen Lawrence hearing. 

Sarah's publisher, Hodder is interested in her writing a blog/articles about old family recipes - so if anyone from this era felt like offering her favoured recipes she'd be happy to try them out and perhaps incorporate them. She may even publish some recipes in the back of the book.


* Her fourth novel, Little Disasters, was published in February 2020.


Read how Prime Minister Boris Johnson inspired Sarah


Read Sarah's blog about seeing her first novel on supermarket shelves

Read an exclusive blog by Sarah Vaughan here.


Sarah's personal insight into her thinking behind the book


Jan Willem Ter Braak was a Dutch Nazi spy who was buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery in Great Shelford during the second world war. 

A book about Ter Braak, called "Hitler's spy against Churchill" was published in spring 2022. (

Ter Braak was a Dutch espionage agent working for the Germans who operated for five months England. He is believed to have been the German agent who was at large for the longest time in Britain during the Second World War.

When he ran out of money, ter Braak committed suicide in an air raid shelter in Cambridge. 

Ter Braak arrived by parachute on the night of 2 November 1940, landing in Buckinghamshire.

He then made his way to Cambridge and lived with a couple named Sennitt in St. Barnabas Road, who accepted his story of having come from the Netherlands during the Dunkirk evacuation. He claimed to be working with Free Dutch forces in London.

Ter Braak was able to rent an office above Haslop & Co in Green Street where he installed his suitcase transmitter. He later rented a  room at St Barnabas Road too. 


The police report  verifed that  he only visited his office  a couple of times. However his radio batteries were  flat, suggesting extensive usage.   It is believed that he used his transmitter in his bedroom in St Barnabas Road, lowering the  aerial out of the window which he kept open.

He was contacted by the Food Office about his ration card in January 1941. Ter Braak suspected that he would be detected, and told his landlady that he had to leave for London. He actually moved across Cambridge and obtained new lodgings on Montague Road.
By March, he no longer had the money to pay his landlady.

On March 29, he deposited his large case in the left luggage office at the Cambridge railway station, and went to one of the public air raid shelters at Christ's Pieces where he committed suicide.

Ter Braak was buried in an unmarked grave in the village cemetery at Great Shelford.

There was a campaign to allow a memorial stone to be placed on his grave four years ago. In May 2017, Great Shelford Parish Council agreed to allow the family to erect a memorial stone on the grave using his real name Engelbertus Fukken


The gravestone was being organised by Ter Braak’s family in Holland. They had proposed the following wording:

Engelbertus Fukken (Ter Braak’s real name)

28 VIII 1914 The Hague, 30/31 III 1941 Cambridge.


The Parish Council gave their go ahead for the gravestone. However the family in Holland decided in March 2019 that the costs of the gravestone were too high and they decided not to go ahead after all. .


There is a MI5-file on Ter Braak  in the National Archives (KV2/114) which can be downloaded.

A book about Ter Braak, called "Hitler's spy against Churchill" by Leven en dood van Jan Willem ter Braak will be be published in spring 2002 by

Pen & Sword

The story featured in the Mail Online, Cambridge News, the Mirror and the Sun. It also featured on Anglia TV.


Julie Deane OBE, from Great Shelford, co-founded the Cambridge Satchel Company wiith her mother Freda Thomas in 2008, with just £600. The company’s turnover is now in excess of £13m. The leather satchels are handmade in the UK and sold in 86 countries. In April 2013 the company won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. 


In June 2021, Julie was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to Entrepreneurship and British Manufacturing and awarded a CBE.

Dreaming up business ideas to raise money to send her daughter Emily to private school as she was being bullied, Julie realised she couldn’t find good quality, reasonably priced satchels like the ones worn by Harry Potter and his friends, a book the family were reading at the time. With just £600 to invest, the idea for The Cambridge Satchel Company was born.

“It was awful when my daughter Emily was being bullied at school and I thought how can I fix this?’ the Great Shelford entrepreneur told the Financial Times. “I saw a great school for her and needed school fees.”

“It gave me passion and energy and a purpose, and that’s what you need to be driven, rather than just thinking that you’d like to be an entrepreneur.”

In four years Julie Deane has gone from stay-at-home mum to international trendsetter, while her company has gone from a kitchen table to sales of (Picture - courtesy of the Daily Mail) more than £1 million a month. And it all started with a list…

At first she struggled to find anyone who bought into her vision, or who could make traditional satchels, but she kept going – eventually finding a company in Hull that still had all the original 1970s equipment to make them. Not convinced they would be a big hit, the firm still made six samples for her.

She made the company’s website herself from a £19.99 template, while her children’s classmates modelled the bags for photos for the website. The six samples took weeks to sell. But all the while Deane was busy publicising her business, telling her story. 

Although the initial samples were brown and black, one customer requested a red satchel and Julie decided to make the bags in an array of colours – a decision that proved to be a success.

Currently some 900 bags a day are being produced at its factory, there are sales figures of £1.3 million a month, 84 direct employees and she’s working with five UK manufacturers. 

The satchels have appeared in the window display of Bloomingdale's in New York, are sold in places like Harrods and Selfridges.

Press coverage

Julie Deane in the Daily Mail

Wolf Reik is the former Director of the Babraham Institute who is a leading authority on epigenetics.

In 2021, Reik, who live sin Great Shelford, resigned as the director of the Babraham Institute to lead a new UK institute being built by Altos Labs.


Altos Labs is exploring what happens when human skin cells are reporgrammed.

With $3bn financial backing ,  Altos has signed up a dream team of scientists to work at two labs in the US and one in the UK. Their aim is to rejuvenate human cells, not with an eye on immortality – as some reports have claimed – but to stave off the diseases of old age that inexorably drive us to the grave.

Read The Guardian article about their vision.

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Christopher Jenkin from Great Shelford was awarded the British Empire Medal in October 2020 for services to the homeless in Cambridge during Covid-19.

He is now chairman of It Takes a City (ITAC), a homelessness charity in Cambridge, which he set up in 2018 as a group of voluntary organisations, businesses, faith groups and individuals committed to sharing the city’s prosperity with a focus on ending local homelessness.

Christopher says the charity was not started to provide services to anyone, but to coordinate the set-up of new services which others would then provide.

During the Covid pandemic, the charity provided food, support, essential items and companionship to people housed in emergency accommodation.

He was also a driving force in establishing the Cambridge Street Pastors, a volunteer group who patrol the streets on Friday and Saturday nights to help rough sleepers.

ITAC has worked with many other organisations to help homeless people, including Cambridge City Council, restaurant chain Cambscuisine, Wintercomfort, St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church, the Salvation Army, Cambridgeshire County Council and volunteers from many other charities.


Photo courtesy of the Cambridge Independent.


A £2.7m lifeboat at Shoreham Harbour lifeboat station is named after former Great Shelford resident Enid Collett.

This lifeboat was launched in 2010. It was funded by the generous bequests of Miss Collett who lived at High Street, Little Shelford, together with other gifts and legacies

Online tour of the Edith Collett


Pete Bassett has worked with some of the biggest artists in the world including: 


  • · Guns’n’Roses

  • · Rod Stewart 

  • · Bill Wyman 

  • · The Bee Gees 

  • · Candi Staton.

Pete, who lives in Great Shelford, now runs the Quite Great! agency. He is also a Great Shelford Parish Councillor.

He was the Head of PR for MCA records encompassing the Geffen label , then Head of Press at Polydor, looking after Motown , Mother and , Fiction.

Pete launched Guns 'n' Roses legendary Use your Illusion 1 and 2 with a very special delivery of albums in a tank at midnight to a key shop on Regent Street grabbing headlines and bringing central London to a standstill.

Pete set up Quite Great! In 1996 using a name given to him by his then 5 year-old son Louie who used the phrase to express his excitement whilst watching England’s football team in their game against Holland in the Euro ’96 .

Read more about Pete and his work at


Great Shelford author Adele Geras has written almost 100 books. Her latest book - Cover Your Eyes - was published in paperback on October 2014. It is her 98th book. Number 99 is due to be published in February 2015. Although she predominantly writes for children –from tots to teens – Adèle’s books encompass every age group and almost every genre, be it romantic sagas (like her bestseller for grown-ups, Facing the Light) or historical dramas like her bestseller for young adults, Troy.


Adele, who was born in Jerusalem, was originally an actress and then a French teacher. Adèle stopped teaching after three years in 1976, when her eldest daughter Sophie was born and before long, she discovered t

he ‘breeze’ of writing, after spotting a short story competition in The Times. 

Her novel Troy was shortlisted for the Whitbread Book Award and Highly Commended for the Carnegie Medal. Her first adult novel, Facing The Light was sold to more than 20 countries around the world. Her latest Young Adult book is Dido and for younger readers, she has just published the third in the Tutu Tilly series, My Ballet Dream. 
Adele has reviewed books for the Guardian and the Times Educational Supplement and twice been a judge for the Costa Awards.  


Adele's new book, Love or Nearest Offer, was published in 2016. Adele's daughter is the writer Sophie Hannah.

See more details of Adele’s books on her website


James Newman made headlines for the £40,000 giant computer he built in the lounge of his Great Shelford home.


Here's the story on the BBC


Here's the story in the Daily Mail.


And here's James' own website.



Great Shelford pancreatic specialist Emmanuel Huguet saved the life of rock star Wilko Johnson 

Mr Huguet led the team that removed a 7lb 11oz tumour from Johnson’s pancreas in a nine-hour operation in April 2014. 

The 66-year-old guitarist and singer, who found fame in the 1970s with Dr Feelgood, underwent an eight-hour operation at Addenbrooke’s Hospital after being given months to live.  

A film about the extraordinary story, The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson which features Dr Huguet had its UK premiere, in London, in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust charity in July 2015 

The discovery that Wilko’s life could be saved came by chance. His friend, surgeon Charlie Chan, could not understand why Wilko continued to eat well and perform despite the severity of his initial diagnosis. 

Mr Chan rang friend, pancreatic surgeon Emmanuel Huguet, and asked if he would review the case.  

Mr Huguet and specialists at Addenbrooke’s found the cancer was treatable and operated to remove the growth that had spread to his stomach, intestine and spleen.
Mr Huguet said: “We would normally have expected Mr Johnson to weaken, lose weight and survive only a few months with the diagnosis he had been given.” 

Wilko played executioner Ilyn Payne in fantasy TV series Game of Thrones. 

Former Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson played a benefit gig for the Cambridge hospital at the Cambridge Junction in March 2015.


Rose Macaulay (1881-1958), who spent some of her life in Great Shelford, was extremely well-known in her lifetime as a novelist.

Rose Macaulay, DBE was a writer, most noted for her award-winning novel, The Towers of Trebizond. She lived some of her life at Southernwood in Great Shelford. Macaulay Crescent is named after her.

In 1905, Rose’s father was appointed to lecturer in English at Cambridge, and from 1906 the family lived at Great Shelford. It was the year in which Rose Macaulay’s first novel appeared.

Rose became an ardent Anglo-Catholic and, through her great childhood friendship with Rupert Brooke, who was a student of her father, was introduced to London literary s


By 1914, she had written six novels, and The Lee Shore was awarded first prize in a competition in 1912. The cash award—£600—enabled her to buy a flat in London and start an independent literary career.

During World War I, Macaulay worked in the British Propaganda Department, after some time as a nurse and later as a civil servant in the War Office.

She had a romantic affair with Gerald O'Donovan, a writer and former Jesuit priest, whom she met in 1918. The relationship lasted until his death, in 1942.

She was a voluntary part-time ambulance driver in London during the Second World War . Rose’s London flat was destroyed in the Blitz, and she had to rebuild her life and library from scratch, as documented in the semi-autobiographical short story, Miss Anstruther's Letters, which was published in 1942.

She was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1957 and died in 1958.

Her name lives on through Macaulay Avenue.


A Great Shelford teenager who saved the lives of 4 people has been posthumously honoured. Paula McKinney, who lives in Great Shelford, received the Order of St John Award on behalf of her daughter, Gail McKinney.

The 16-year-old took her own life in May 2014 after being bullied at school. Mum Paula, said she was too upset to agree to her daughter donating her organs at first but then had a change of heart.

"Somewhere there's a man with her heart and there's three other people with liver and kidneys," she told the Cambridge News. "We're very proud of Gail, very proud that she helped four people go home to their families.

"Anyone that knew Gail would tell you that she had the biggest heart ever. She was struggling badly but because I had a lot of health issues she didn't want to worry me. She would have been 18 this year.

"There's bullying going on with other schools. I don't want other mums to go through what I'm going through."


Charles Myers from Great Shelford was the first health professional to use the term shell-shock in World War One.

Charles Myers, who lived at Beech Holt in Great Shelford, was one of the most influential figures in the development t of the science of psychology. 


In 1915 Myers was given a commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps and in 1916 he was appointed consultant psychologist to the British armies in France with a staff of assistants at Le Touquet.


In 1915 Myers was the first to use the term “shell shock” in an article in The Lancet, though he later acknowledged in 1940 that he did not invent the term. He tried to save shell-shocked soldiers from execution.


Great Shelford writer Sally Christie  lives in King’s Mill Lane. Her first job, nearly 30 years ago, was with a publisher of children’s books. While she was there, she had a go at writing herself and (cunningly calling herself Syd Carter) sent the story to an editor in her own office. It was accepted.

Sally’s new book, The Icarus Show is a powerful story about friendship, loneliness and a strange kind of genius. It is published by David Fickling Books.

Guardian review 

Independent review

Penny Bendall is a renowned conservator of ceramics with 25 years' experience working on national and international collections in the field. She holds a Royal Warrant for her work. 


Penny also works on collections for museums and private clients which include: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Sir John Soanes Museum, Historic Royal Palaces, Burghley House, Christies and Sotheby's.

A high profile example of her work is the restoration of the smashed Qing vases at The Fitzwilliam Museum in 2006. 
Penny was responsible for condition checking and overseeing the packaging for safe transport of the miniature terracotta warriors in China for a major exhibition at The Fitzwilliam Museum in 2012.

Penny, who lives in Cambridge Road, Great Shelford, is a former trustee of QEST, and was Development Director during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee campaign which succeeded in doubling the amount of scholarships being awarded annually.

Penny is a trustee of ICON and The Plowden Medal, development consultant for the Zibby Garnett Travel Fellowship and on the board for the Lord Mayor of the City of London Cultural Scholarship. Her website is at


Daniel Bangham drove his 86 year old car from Great Shelford to the South of France travelling at speeds of 20mph.

Daniel, who runs Woodwind and Reed in Cambridge was following in the footsteps of his grandmother who drove from London to Marseille and then to Egypt in the 1920s.

He completed the trip in the Jowett – called Edie - he restored at the end of May 2015.

Here are a few excerpts from Daniel’s blog: “Some days we drove up to 8 hours, but did not have that aching exhaustion I expected. The stress...ful times have been when I have demanded too much from the car, like the time on the Central massive from Le Puy, when we had a continuous climb of about 25 miles, some of which was in 1st gear (up to 4177 ft) and then 25 mile down hill to Aubenas, again in 2nd gear, foot and handbrake. The radiator was boiling near the end of the uphill run and we dare not stop to top it up. Having found out the hard way about not keeping the oil topped up, especially when on a decent, we topped up the oil twice on the downhill run.

“The stressful times have been when I have demanded too much from the car, like the time on the Central massive from Le Puy, when we had a continuous climb of about 25 miles, some of which was in 1st gear (up to 4177 ft) and then 25 mile down hill to Aubenas, again in 2nd gear, foot and handbrake. The radiator was boiling near the end of the uphill run and we dare not stop to top it up. Having found out the hard way about not keeping the oil topped up, especially when on a decent, we topped up the oil twice on the downhill run.”ful times have been when I have demanded too much from the car, like the time on the Central massive from Le Puy, when we had a continuous climb of about 25 miles, some of which was in 1st gear (up to 4177 ft) and then 25 mile down hill to Aubenas, again in 2nd gear, foot and handbrake. The radiator was boiling near the end of the uphill run and we dare not stop to top it up. Having found out the hard way about not keeping the oil topped up, especially when on a decent, we topped up the oil twice on the downhill run.
“After exhausting poor Edie to make up for lost time yesterday we realised that her bottom had fallen off this morning! We blame the challenging speed bumps they have installed all along the minor roads in France. After a temporary fix with a piece of wood, we made it to Nimes this afternoon.

“From my limited experience, owning and driving a vintage car is a quite a commitment, just the sort of commitment I like! There is the constant anxiety levels about the oil pressure, water, oil and petrol levels and listening for that extra rattle or knocking sound that might mean trouble, which is completely balanced by the beautiful open rural roads of France.”

“London was the most stressful part of the whole drive so far. The run as far as Tower bridge was not too bad, but as soon as I hit the likes of Camberwell, Tulse hill, down to Croyden I was in terrifying terrain, the traffic was horrendous and impatient, the hills steep and traffic lights misplaced. It was during this section that I broke the clutch and was very close to abandoning the trip!”

Read more at “Narrow Car to Provence” on Facebook


Shelford resident Helen Craig has illustrated a number of well-known children’s books including Angelina Ballerina and Finder's Magic by Philippa Pearce who was born and lived in Great Shelford

Helen started illustrating children's books in 1970 - while bringing up her son - and has since then completed over 60, including 16 titles about her popular mouse character Angelina Ballerina.

The first book which she wrote and illustrated was The Mouse House ABC, published in 1977. With co-author Sarah Hayes she created "Bear", a popular children's character who appears in This Is The Bear, This Is The Bear and the Picnic Lunch, This Is The Bear and the Scary Night and This is the Bear and the Bad Little Girl.

Helen Craig spent her childhood in Essex living in a tiny thatched cottage with no electricity or running water. Her father was Edward Craig, the writer and designer for theatre and films; her grandfather was Edward Gordon Craig, also a theatrical designer and producer who was the son of the actress Dame Ellen Terry.

She loved drawing but said: "I felt rather overwhelmed by this wealth of talent around me," and never thought of it as a profession and did not attend art school. Instead she was apprenticed at the age of 16 to a firm of commercial photographers and later worked as a portrait photographer in her own studio in London. She lived in Spain for three years and it was there that she began drawing seriously and making ceramic sculpture.

In 2014 Helen Craig donated almost her entire Angelina Ballerina archive to Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books in Newcastle.


She collects children's books, new and old, and now finds the time to do other work - painting from life and sculpture.


Actor Nigel Davenport grew up in Woodlands Road, Great Shelford Road. His father, Arthur, was bursar at Sidney Sussex. Actor Nigel Davenport spoke to the Independent newspaper about his memories of growing up in Great Shelford. (external link)

Philippa Pearce OBE who wrote Tom's Midnight Garden which won the Carnegie Medal in 1958 was from Great Shelford.


She was brought up in the Mill House in Kings Mill Lane. Tom's Midnight Garden was her second book, and was based on the garden of the Mill House where she was raised.


Great Barley in the book is based on Great Shelford.The book inspired a film a play and 3 TV versions. Philippa wrote over 30 books.


She died in 2006. Every September from 2008, the Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture at Homerton College, Cambridge celebrates "excellence in writing for children."

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John Minton was a painter, illustrator and stage designer who was born in Great Shelford. 


Minton illustrated A Book of Mediterranean Food and French Country Cooking - the first two books by food writer Elizabeth David.


After studying in France, he became a teacher in London, while also maintaining a large output of works. In addition to landscapes, portraits and other paintings, some of them on an unusually large scale, he built  a reputation as an illustrator of books.

In the mid-1950s, Minton found himself out of sympathy with the abstract trend that was then becoming fashionable, and felt increasingly sidelined. He suffered psychological problems, self-medicated with alcohol, and in 1957 committed suicide.


A self portrait painted in 1953 is featured above.


Read a full profile of John Minton here.

Watch a BBC documentary about John Minton first broadcast in August 2018.

John Minton

Former Arsenal footballer Steve Morrow, who lives in Great Shelford, scored the winning goal in the 1993 League Cup Final at Wembley. 

In the celebrations after the match, Arsenal skipper Tony Adams attempted to pick Steve up but Adams slipped and Morrow awkwardly hit the ground. He broke his arm (see photo, below) and had to be rushed to hospital.

As a result, Steve missed the rest of that season, including the FA Cup final (also against Sheffield Wednesday), where Arsenal completed the Cup Double. Before the final kicked off, he received his League Cup winners' medal, making him the only player ever to have picked up a medal before a Cup final.


Steve also played in the 1994 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final 1-0 victory over Parma, and was also a member of the team that lost in the final to Real Zaragoza a year later.

Steve also played for QPR, Peterborough, Reading, Watford, and Barnet. He received 39 caps for Northern Ireland, scoring once for his country.

He went onto manage FC Dallas in the United States. He now works for the Football Association.


A lady who worked in Great Shelford for much of her life has just celebrated her 105th birthday. Nancy Giggle was born in Little Shelford in 1909. She was joined by friends and family at Home Close residential home in Fulbourn on September 20 for a birthday celebration.

She went to school in the Shelfords until she turned 14, and then moved into her Grandfather’s bakery where she also worked for several years.

Later she moved to Great Shelford to work in her aunt’s cake shop on Woollards Lane.

During the Second World War, she worked at Spicers in Sawston, before returning to Great Shelford where she worked as a dressmaker for more than 20 years.

After retirement she moved into a nearby residential home, and relocated to Home Close in 2011.

When asked for the secret to a long and healthy life, she told the Cambridge News: “I believe that keeping mentally active with reading and daily crossword solving is good for you.

“Also, accepting the things you cannot change. A busy life is a happy life, because you have no time to let it be otherwise.”

While she has no children, Nancy enjoys visits from members of her family, including her nephew Peter and his wife Jess.

She always makes an effort to enjoy her daily crossword puzzle, and is happy to be involved in daily activities and socialising with other residents at Home Close.


Pete Wilkinson moved to Great Shelford in 2001, both his daughters were born here and now attend the village school. Prior to that he lived in London and was producer on the Jazz series at London’s prestigious Wigmore Hall, booking ex-Miles Davis sidemen alongside artists as diverse as Des’ree and Mica Paris. He also worked as a session musician for a couple of studios, his first gig being a fixer for David Gedge (The Wedding Present). 

He's played with a variety of musicians since, including Jarvis Cocker, Abram Wilson, Pete Wyer and recorded extensively with Philip Kane, whose new album Pete is currently recording - arranging strings and horns, playing some guitar and keyboards. It should be out later this year. 

His "day" job since 2002 Pete (pictured left in the studio with (r to l) Werner Kristiansen (Lily Allen, Kid Creole), Pedro Segundo and Pete) has been as Director of Jerwood Space, London’s premier rehearsal studio dedicated to theatre, opera and dance. Jerwood Space runs as a not-for-profit organisation and houses 7 large rehearsal studios in a converted school in Southwark, with a public gallery across the front of the building. Most of the shows in the West End have rehearsed with Pete and Jerwood Space at one point or another. Each company that comes in typically bases itself at Jerwood Space for 5 weeks, with new productions building sets in the studios, and re-casts just bringing in props and marking-up the floor.


They usually build a good rapport with each organisation over the course of a rehearsal period and often see the same faces over again. Eddie Redmayne is a case in point. He rehearsed Red and Richard II with Jerwood, then collared Pete last summer to use a small office in order to perfect his wheelchair technique for The Theory of Everything. "If he wins that Oscar, a portion of that success is down to the hours he put in here," said Pete. Part of the brief is to report back to the Board on the shows and directors they have helped subsidise over the year, which involves watching a lot of theatre (typically two-three shows a week). Nothing gives him greater pleasure than watching the career arc of someone he has helped find their feet at the beginning of their career suddenly start to achieve their potential, particularly as he builds a special relationship with them.


Shows in the West End that began their lives at Jerwood Space include Lion King, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Book of Mormon and Made In Dagenham, plus they also host the recast rehearsals for Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia, Wicked and Matilda. Pete recalled; "Whilst I was queuing for lunch in our café some years ago, I looked up to see I was behind Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in the queue, in front of Dame Judi Dench, Rosamund Pike and Frances Barber, and was being waved at by Jason Donovan in drag, who was in rehearsing Priscilla. Kind of sums up the variety of the job!"



Actor Nigel Davenport grew up in Woodlands Road, Great Shelford Road. His father, Arthur, was bursar at Sidney Sussex. Actor Nigel Davenport spoke to the Independent newspaper about his memories of growing up in Great Shelford. (external link)


Great Shelford tennis coach Hamid Hejazi has launched his own charity to introduce under-privileged children to tennis. He hopes to give 8 to 14-year-olds the same opportunity he had to turn their lives around.

“I grew up in a council house in Stevenage, my parents divorced when I was 12 and I was expelled from school,” Hamid told the Cambridge News.

“Tennis changed me and being in that environment as a teenager, I had good role models. If I can take children who would never consider playing tennis and one of them has a better life because of it, it will be worth it.”

Hamid is waiting for the project, called the Richard Darton Foundation in memory of his late grandfather, to be awarded charitable status. Jeff Wayne, composer of the musical version of War of the Worlds and captain of the Hertfordshire team that Hejazi played for, has agreed to be patron of the new charity.

The Foundation will send coaches to schools to find players deserving of an opportunity, with coaching sessions leading to matches, competition and possibly careers in coaching.

“I want these kids to play several times a week to play in competitions, meet new people and face new challenges. It will be about attending, listening and behaving are achievable things.”



Author Nicholas Best grew up in Kenya. He served in the Grenadier Guards and worked as a journalist in London before becoming a full time writer.

A former literary critic for the Financial Times, the Great Shelford based author has written more than 20 books, both fiction and non-fiction, and is translated into many languages. He was long-listed in 2010 for the Sunday Times-EFG Bank £30,000 award, the biggest short story prize in the world.

"While working as a journalist in London, I sold my first short stories and became the fiction critic for the Financial Times. I went freelance when I got a commission for my first book, Happy Valley: the story of the English in Kenya, and wrote my first novel, Where were you at Waterloo," said Nicholas.

"I enjoy writing popular history, preferably with a good plot so that the story can be written like a novel and paced like a thriller."
The Greatest Day in History, his account of the 1918 Armistice, was a Waterstone’s recommendation of the month in 2008.

In 2010, he was long-listed for the inaugural Sunday Times-EFG Bank award.

In 2012, his last book Five Days that shocked the World became a news story across the globe, courtesy of a two-page spread in the Daily Mail. Even the Himalayan Times covered the story, perhaps because the online illustrations included one of Audrey Hepburn looking very pretty (she escapes from a Wehrmacht brothel in the book) and another of Sophia Loren in her underwear. The book has since been a No 1 best seller on Amazon in four different categories.

More recently, Thistle have been reissuing some of his early titles online. Happy Valley and Tennis and the Masai (serialized on BBC Radio 4 some years ago) have both been best-sellers in the Amazon Top 100 (Tennis and the Masai at No 3 in the humour category). His novella Point Lenana was released as a Kindle Single in May 2014 and became the No 1 short story best seller (literary fiction).


Nicholas Best’s book Happy Valley: The Story of the English in Kenya was No 1 best seller in its Amazon category through May 2017.


Nicholas has written about how his books have come within a whisker of being made into movies in a fascinating blog


Read more about Nicholas at



Anna Sugden writes romantic novels. She has always loved happy endings. Growing up, if she didn’t like how a book or film turned out, she’d write an alternative ending. Naturally, when she discovered romance novels she was in heaven and dreamed that one day she would be a romance author.

It took a while. First, she worked in global marketing for a major multinational company. Then, she requalified to become a primary teacher. Finally, when her husband was posted to New Jersey, she got the chance to write full-time. A romance writing course led to the discovery of Romance Writers of America and her local New Jersey chapter. Her first book -- A Perfect Distraction -- sold to Harlequin in 2012, launching her award-winning New Jersey Ice Cats series. Anna’s books have been nominated for and won a number of prestigious romance novel awards, including the coveted Maggie (Georgia Romance Writers) and the Golden Leaf (New Jersey Romance Writers).

Her new ice hockey romance series, featuring the Newark Dockers, will debut with Entangled Publishing later this year.

Now back in England, Anna and her husband and share their Great Shelford  home with two bossy black cats. Anna is a keen sports fan, especially hockey and football, where she prefers a happy ending for her teams! When not researching ice hockey players -- for her books ;) -- she makes craft projects and collects penguins and great shoes!

Learn more about Anna on her website You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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