With highs of 25°C, Saturday 12 July was the perfect day to relax and enjoy the sunshine. That is unless you happened to be in St. Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth, Maternity Ward. I can imagine (not that I remember) that the ward was stuffy and unpleasant, full of screams and stress. That's where my story begins. In fact, I believe most people's lives began when they were born, so I'm not overly unique in that respect. Between being born and turning seven, I lived in three cities (well, two cities and a town): Portsmouth, Cheltenham and Bristol.
I returned to Portsmouth when I was seven. Since then, I have become a great lover of some parts of the city. The roads (out), the ferry port (departures terminal) and the numerous train stations (and trains leaving the city). I joke that I don't like the city, but I love the culture, history and people of Portsmouth. I love how people in Portsmouth are prepared to make their voices heard and stand up for themselves and the area they live in, and how they are united through their love of the city (I think Portsmouth Football Club is a great example here, even people who hate football couldn't help but feel pleased when the club was bought by fans).
It was in Portsmouth that I first got involved in theatre, well dance. I was seven when I started doing tap, modern, ballet and jazz at Timestep School of Dance. I stopped modern and jazz because 'they didn't interest me' and then, at some point, moved to Marie Clarke School of Dance where I continued until I stopped dance classes at the age of 14. In 2007, at the age of nine, I joined Groundlings Theatre Company just after auditioning for their production of Peter Pan. I acted and did a bit of front of house and office work with Groundlings until February 2010, when I became part of the team renovating The Old Beneficial School as their new home and theatre. Most of my time at that stage was spent painting, and through it I developed a love for the building which continues to this day. I left Groundlings in February 2012 (although I still pop back now and then), and moved to VictoryLand for one production. After that, I stopped acting. I still love the theatre though, and now work as a freelance sound, light and followspot operator and well as being the resident lighting and sound designer for Phoenix Players.
Later on, I started Scouting. Although unsure at first (I'm not a fan of spending extended periods of time in a tent), I now describe myself as a 'Proud Scout'. Still not a fan of the idea of spending a week in a field, I have found other ways to get involved in Scouting. I am a Young Spokes Person, which means I have received world class media and campaigning training, have joined the Hampshire Scout Youth Council, and can now often be seen travelling the country to events, conferences and the like in the name of Scouting. I am also a former member of the Portsmouth Explorer Forum, a city wide forum to discuss what 14-18 year olds want from Scouting, and the City of Portsmouth Scout Council Executive, where I was the youth representative for a year.
I was a member of Portsmouth Youth Parliament/Youth Voice, until it was closed by Portsmouth City Council. PYV was a group that encouraged debate and discussion and acts as the voice of young people to Portsmouth City Council, its staff and the Councillors. I have held the office of secretary and adult volunteer and have also acted as a representative of the group at various events organised by organisations such as the British Youth Council, the UK Youth Parliament and Stonewall.
Since May 2012 I have worked as a freelance writer, specialising in the arts, politics, communities and young people. I have written for the Portsmouth News, Southern Daily Echo, Johnston Press & many others.