Sydney Ambury – Royal Northumberland Fusilliers – WW1 and WW2 military service 

I’ve found this letter about my great grandfather Sydney Ambury’s (1885-1944) army service record and his obituary. 

 I’d love to understand more about what he did and what it meant. If you can help at all please comment below. 


I only discovered a few years ago that Sydney was born Solomon Benjamin Hamburg in Spitalfields the 8th child of Dutch Jewish parents Benjamin Hamburg and Flora Salomon Rina. Previous to then I and the rest of my family had no idea that he was Jewish or that he came from London. 

At 17 Sydney enlisted in the army in Hounslow and at 18 started serving in the British Army in Newcastle. 

I would love to know anything that anyone can shed light on in terms of my family history and his military service. 

Thanks for any information you can share 😀👍

Saving Bletchley Park – book launch at Waterstones Piccadilly 

Last night was one of the best nights of my life! My book Saving Bletchley Park was launched at Waterstones Piccadilly in central London. It was an amazing evening with speeches, a reading from my book, tears, drinks, great conversation and lots of laughter 😀 Thanks a million to everyone that came and made it such a special night ❤️   


My day: 18th March 2016 – Saving Bletchley Park book signing, lunch at the Shard celebrating my sister Sarah’s birthday and “Performing for the camera” at Tate Modern. 

Had a lovely day yesterday signing copies of my book “Saving Bletchley Park” in 3 branches of Foyles, lunch at the Shard celebrating my sister Sarah’s birthday, and then the “Performing for the camera” exhibition at the Tate Modern 😀❤️😀

Fabulous autumn weekend in Paris via Eurostar using Citymapper and Airbnb 

I had a wonderful weekend this weekend celebrating my boyfriend’s birthday in Paris. We left London St Pancras station on the 11.01 train on Saturday morning arriving at Gare du Nord at 2:17pm (1 hour time difference).

Using Citymapper one of my favourite apps, we found our Airbnb apartment near Bastille Metro really easily. After dropping our bags we pottered around for a bit then walked towards the centre of Paris soaking up the atmosphere and the autumn sun. As it started to get dark we ventured into a bar/restaurant called Kong, where amazingly there were photos of 3 women on a digital display including one with hair very similar to mine.   

After a couple of drinks we had a delicious  dinner in the swanky glass domed restaurant. 
Full of food and drink we walked out and over Pont Neuf stopping to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the distance 😀

 We walked along the riverside, then crossed back over another bridge towards the Louvre and Pyramide. 
We then walked back in the general direction of our apartment stopping for a drink at a street cafe before getting the Metro for a couple of stops and getting a (reasonably) early night.  
Sunday morning we woke up full of beans and went for breakfast at a cafe over the road. “Le Francais” breakfast was €8, the croissant was DIVINE 😀

We then went for a walk along the Promenade Plantee, the Paris forerunner to New York’s Highline. It was busy with walkers and runners alike, plus a few sleeping party goers on benches, who hadn’t made it home from Halloween parties the night before. 

I was tempted, but didn’t take pics of the sleeping partygoers. 

We walked Promenade Plantee for several kilometres stopping for a drink (of coffee and water) at a small cafe. I made the mistake of asking for the “salle de bain” rather than “toilette” in the cafe and was kindly corrected by the lovely waiter. Maybe I had been trying to be posh? I’m not sure lol. 

We then walked up to Bel-Air Metro  and got a train to Bir Hakeim station near…..  

 ….the Eiffel Tower 😀

We took this pic down a side street before having French onion soup and steak frites before going for a walk around the base of the tower and then through the park. 

I wanted to go to Sacre Coeur to look at the view at dusk, so we got back on the Metro at Ecole Militaire for the journey to Abbess station. 

We walked up the stairs at Abbess station and then the countless steps up to the Sacre Coeur. Bloody hell. That’s a lot of steps. I’d forgotten how many 😱

There were a lot of people there in front of Sacre Coeur sitting around, smoking (so many more people smoke in Paris than in London!) and chatting and watching the sun set. 

We walked around Monmartre, past some great views, and a Windmill, before sitting outside another cafe for a nice cold beer before making our way back to Gare du Nord for the Eurostar home. 

  On the way to the Metro we passed the Moulin Rouge. 
We got the 8.43pm train home which arrived at 10pm. I love Eurostar 😀👍

It was a fabulous weekend, I highly recommend Paris as a great place for a relaxed weekend trip from London. I had thought that it might be a bit rushed, but it wasn’t, we had plenty of time and got home feeling relaxed and refreshed. I can’t wait to go back….  

How technology and education changed my life

It was quite surreal to receive this email today, inviting me to my talk at London South Bank University 🙂

LSBU Alumni 2015
Dear Susan,

As a graduate of the BSc Computing Studies, class of 1993, we are delighted to invite you to an exclusive pre-drinks reception to welcome your fellow classmate, Dr Sue Black, back to LSBU.


Dr Black will deliver an inspirational talk about how technology and education changed her life. When Sue enrolled on the course, she was a single mum living on a Brixton council estate. Today, she is one of Europe’s top 50 women in tech and a key voice in our digital future.

Date: Wednesday 18th November
Time: 17:30 – 21:00 including drinks and buffet reception
Venue: Events Theatre, Keyworth Centre (LSBU Southwark Campus)

This is an opportunity for you to reunite with your former classmates over drinks and hear Dr Black’s talk in a specially reserved area. Please email to register your place at the pre-drinks reception.

As we may not be in touch with all of our BSc Computing Studies graduates, please feel free to invite your fellow LSBU alumni or let us know so we can send them an invitation.

Best wishes,

The LSBU Alumni team
Olivia, Rishi and Laura

“Saving Bletchley Park”, New York roasting, Cheltenham Literary Festival, Raspberry Pi, GCHQ and “Women in the World”

I’ve had a fabulous last couple of weeks, here are some of the highlights, in pictures. No wonder I’m tired 😉

I received and started making the final changes to my “Saving Bletchley Park” manuscript



I got to have a great catchup there with the wonderful Vanessa Vallely



I met Elaine Finn and after a couple of glasses of wine at the reception we decided to take a daring selfie 😉



After the BBC event finished a few of us went for dinner 🙂


My lovely son Olly and DiL Tony made a fab family lunch


My grandson Felix took a liking to mushrooms


The next day I flew to New York


..and found myself upgraded to business class! Woohoo, thanks British Airways 🙂


My awesome friend Kelly took me to MOMA and I got to check out the Warhol exhibition


Wow! It was so incredible to be in the same room as these iconic pics


Kelly and I took some colourful selfies in the MOMA garden


I roasted my great friend J Kelly Hoey at her 50th birthday party in New York.


I took some blurred selfies as I was crossing 6th Avenue


I worked on (amongst other things) the acknowledgements for my book “Saving Bletchley Park” at Gimme Coffee in Brooklyn


Coincidentally my friend Martin was in New York with his wife and goddaughter, so we met up for dinner at Soho House, then another coincidence my friend Judith happened to be there too, so we caught up too 🙂


I had a lovely breakfast in Brooklyn with my awesome friend @ctrouper


I stayed at an Airbnb in Brooklyn near Hewes Street subway 🙂


The morning after the night before, a massive breakfast with birthday girl Kelly (I can’t believe she’s 50!) and Kelly’s friend Devon, another awesome woman 🙂


Kelly and I went for a stroll in Central Park to burn off a few calories from breakfast and happened upon a wedding taking place on the bridge in Central Park. How romantic! They were English too 🙂


Kelly and me in central Park


My favourite place for BBQ is Virgils in NYC, I have dinner there at least once every trip 🙂


Virgils BBQ – ❤


Through twitter I met up with Gem Barrett, we had a great dinner at Virgils and then took some drunken selfies in Times Square 🙂



After 5 days in NYC I was so happy to get home to my family, especially Cheeky, my youngest daughter


The next day I was off to Cheltenham Literary Festival to chair a panel on “Navigating our 24/7 culture”


On the panel were Annette Karmiloff Smith and Michael Acton Smith, we were introduced by the fabulous Isabella from Cheltenham Ladies College.


A couple of days later I went to Cambridge for the day, on the tube on the way there I bumped into my lovely friend Mex aka @anniemole


I had a great meeting at Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge to discuss setting up and leading a #womenintech Centre of Excellence at Lucy Cavendish 🙂


While I was in the area I nipped in to see mates at the Raspberry Pi Foundation: Carrie Anne Philbin @missphilbin and Philip Colligan 🙂


It chucked it down on the walk back to the station 😮 I checked in on Swarm and found myself being tweeted by Microsoft Research offering me an umbrella! I was delighted to accept.


That night my daughter Emma treated me and Cheeky to dinner, it was great to catch up 🙂


The next day I was off to Cheltenham again, this time to give a talk at GCHQ! I had a great day, met lots of interesting people and bumped into Sir Dermot Turing who was signing hundreds of copies of his book “Prof” about his uncle Alan Turing ready for his book launch the next day.


When I got back to London I met up with my mate Steve Hills and we went to a fun private do at L’Escargot in Soho organised by Stephen Colegrave. Mitch from Unbounders read out a couple of “Letters of Note” with his usual great comic timing 🙂


The next day I had a bit of a break to take my grandson for a walk by the Thames 🙂


I was excited to get a press pass for the Women in the World event at Cadogan Hall, London, as I turned up on the first night celebs were getting their pics taken on the red carpet 🙂


There were so many great women there, onstage and off. Google “Women in the World” to see some of the incredible talks. So inspiring 🙂


Sarah Gavron and Meryl Streep discussing their film Suffragette, out tomorrow, i cant wait to see it!


Ursula von der Leyn, German defence minister was amazing, 7 children and making great changes in German politics. Incredible role model for us all.


It was great to get a chance to catch up with my lovely friend Ann O’Dea who runs Silicon Republic in Dublin 🙂


…and awesome to catch up again with Lauren Boyle – European Digital Girl of the Year 2014 – and her mum Tania 🙂


…and what an absolute honour to meet and get a selfie with the “Dagenham Girls” 🙂


Just showing off my press pass, and blue nail varnish 😉


I was also featured that day on the cover of the Autumn issue of the London South Bank University magazine, I’m speaking there next month.


I bought quite a bit of wool in New York, I couldn’t help myself! The first thing I made was this jacker for my grandson, hope it fits…i need to get some buttons…


At the weekend we visited Polesden Lacey National Trust property in Surrey, its an incredible house and gardens, highly recommended


Here we are outside the house


Did you enjoy that? Me too, let’s go and get a cup of tea…


Finding my ancestors via DNA testing

I’ve been interested in my family tree for as long as I can remember. I grew up with a small family and always longed for more relatives, some cousins to play with. 

When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter 12 years ago I started looking into my family tree, and got stuck on one great grandfather Sydney Ambury. I couldn’t find where he was born. 

Fast forward a few years to 2011. I found an article linking Sydney Ambury to Solomon Hamburg, son of Benjamin and Flora Hamburg. Benjamin and Flora had come to London from Amsterdam in the 1800s, lived in Spitalfields, got married in the Great Synagogue in London and had 10 children. I found out that I’m one eighth Jewish. I’d had absolutely no idea about that, and I have probably hundreds of Jewish cousins 😃  

Here’s the blogpost I wrote about meeting up with the first of many of my Jewish cousins Jon and Phil Marx. Jon has put together a massive chart detailing all of our relatives going back for generations He also organised a wonderful reunion at Sandy’s Row synagogue in Spitalfields where 3 of our ancestors were married. 

Today I thanks to my friend Kristie Wells I received a DNA testing kit from  

I spat in the plastic tube added the stabilising fluid, sealed and packaged it up ready to send for analysis.   

I’m very excited to find out what the results are. Just 2 weeks and I’ll find out where my ancestors lived 500 to 1200 years ago and get connected to lots of 1st to 5th cousins. I’m so excited! Watch this space for the results…  

Easter visit to Scotney Castle,  Bodiam Castle and Knole House

We had a lovely visit to the National Trust’s Scotney CastleBodiam Castle and Knole House in Kent, this Easter weekend. Scotney also has a really interesting house given over to the National Trust in 2006 when the owner Betty Hussey died aged 99 in 2006. Her cat Puss still lives there.  


Bodiam Castle is much older and a proper castle.

Knole House hosts an incredible collection of art and beds from the 17th century. There are many bedrooms containing beds that had been passed down, second hand, from  English Kings. An incredible place.

We had a great Easter weekend visiting these 3 National Trust properties and look forward to discovering more over the next year with our annual membership 😃

More pics of Scotney Castle, House and gardens below along with other pics from the weekend.





Happy Mother’s Day

When I was twelve my mother died suddenly. I can’t remember if it was a Saturday or a Sunday, but I remember it was at the weekend. My mum had complained of a headache around late morning and had gone to bed to lie down. After a bit I went in to see if she wanted anything and saw that she was obviously in a lot of pain. She either couldn’t hear or couldn’t respond to whatever it was that I said to her when I went in to see her. I went downstairs and said to my dad

“I think mum’s had a brain haemorrhage”

I’m not really sure how I knew that, but I had spent many hours reading my parents medical textbooks (my parents were both nurses). We had a chat about it and my dad decided to call an ambulance.

Being a weekend it took a while for the ambulance to arrive. When it did my dad took the two ambulance men upstairs to my mum. They examined her and then told us that they couldn’t take her into hospital as they thought my mum just had a migraine, it wasn’t anything more serious than that. My dad told them that he thought it was a brain haemorrhage, but they disagreed. They told us that we would need to call our doctor to get the sanction for them to take my mum into hospital. They were not allowed to take someone with a migraine to hospital. The ambulance men left and my dad called the doctor. As it was a weekend it took some time for a doctor to arrive. In the meantime I sat on a chair by my parents bed keeping an eye on my mum while my dad looked after my brother and sister downstairs. My mum was quiet most of the time, but now and again she would say

“My head hurts so much, please let me die, please god let me die”

I sat there, deeply traumatised, saying nothing until after some time the doctor arrived, a locum named Dr Patel.

Dr Patel tried speaking to my mum, I don’t remember exactly what she did or said, but she concluded that my mum had had a migraine and shouldn’t be taken into hospital.

I carried on sitting by my mum’s bed after the doctor had gone. It was now probably early afternoon. My dad went to fetch my mum’s best friend Jean Banks from up the road. Jean came and sat in the bedroom with me, she sat next to the bed and I sat on a chair a few feet away. We both sat mainly in silence, staring at my mum.

My dad came in from time to time to see how everything was.

My mum was gradually getting less restless and quieter, only occasionally saying that she wanted to die. I remember thinking to myself that in my opinion she was slipping into unconsciousness and that as she had had a brain haemorrhage that probably meant that it was too late for any intervention, and that she was going to die. I was horrified at that realisation and spent the time sitting there in silence trying to persuade myself that I was actually incorrect, and that of course she would be fine.

My dad came in again to see how my mum was. When he saw that her condition was deteriorating he called the doctor again. We waited another couple of hours for the doctor to come back. When Dr Patel finally did return, she examined my mum and said that she was going to call an ambulance. I knew that it was too late. My mum was unconscious.

Finally an ambulance did arrive to take mum away to hospital. The ambulance men carried her downstairs and out of the front door. I walked down the garden path following the ambulance men and my mum on a stretcher, holding hands with my sister Sarah who was seven. We watched mum being put into the ambulance, the doors shutting and the ambulance driving away down the road, it was just starting to get dark. My mum had been laying in bed for probably 6 hours in excruciating physical pain. I had been sitting in the bedroom with her for 6 hours in dreadful mental pain. That day, that long and traumatic afternoon is indelibly etched on my memory forever. As we held hands at the end of the garden path we looked down the road towards the ambulance which got smaller and smaller and then disappeared out of sight.

“Will she be coming back?” my little sister Sarah asked me.

“No, I don’t think so.” I replied.

We slowly walked back into the house together, and there my memory fades.

My mum never regained consciousness, we agreed for her life support machine to be switched off a couple of days after she was taken to hospital, on 11th February 1975. I was just twelve years old and my twin brother Stephen and sister Sarah were seven.


My Mum – Sally Valerie Diane Ambury 1940-1975

40 years on, I’m ashamed to say that I don’t remember much of my mum, especially considering that we were together for 12 whole years. I just have a few fragments of conscious memory. The day she died is my largest memory of her.

What I do have however, inside me, is a feeling of strength and love that has kept me going through some times of dreadful adversity. It has enabled me to love my children and give them everything I can. It has meant that despite all the difficulties I have faced, I’ve had a happy life full of so many fun and interesting times. I cannot put into words how grateful I am for that. That strength, that happiness and relentlessness in the face of adversity, that, to me, is my mum, inside of me. My mum may have died very young, but she made me the strong and happy person I am today. Thanks Mum.

Mum, Sue, Sarah, Stephen

Massive thanks also to the many people who have mothered me when I needed it over the years:

Elsie Leah Reynolds, Kate Deans, Joyce Leforgeais, Denise Bell, Ha Thi Minh Tam, Hazel Lapierre, Sarah Pearson, Emma Black, Leah Black, and Paul Boca. I cannot thank you enough.

This mothers’ day I give grateful thanks to my mum, my surrogate mothers and to all mothers across the world who are doing their best to raise the next generation, the future success of our planet depends on you. Mothering, loving and nurturing someone is the most important gift you can give another person.

Happy Mothers’ Day! 🙂

** This morning I decided to start writing my autobiography, working title “If I can do it, so can you” based on my blogpost and talk of the same name. This post is what came out first…..