History

From Bletchley to Brexit – an utter disgrace

From 2008-2011 I ran the successful campaign to save Bletchley Park. As part of that campaign I met and got to know several of the codebreakers including Captain Jerry Roberts and Mavis Batey who was only 18 when she made major codebreaking breakthroughs. The work that was done by 10 thousand people at BP, 8000 of them young women shortened WW2 by 2 years saving 22 million lives. 10000 people working around the clock for years making sure that we can enjoy the freedom we have had all of our lives.

Bletchley Park to me epitomises what is best about Britain and the British. People from all different backgrounds coming together around a common cause, working for years, in secret, with no real personal reward or recognition for what they have done. Incredible people in incredible times. 

To me Brexit is the opposite of this. Brexit epitomises the worst of Britain and the British. People from privileged backgrounds seeking to manipulate others, to pit people against each other for their own personal gain. Selfish people creating a selfish atmosphere in selfish times.

At a time when other countries, like China for example are building infrastructure across the world with the Belt and Road programme, buying up land, building roads across Africa and Asia, lending large amounts of money to countries that possibly won’t be able to pay it back, we in the UK are showing the world quite clearly that we are unfit to be incredible pioneers as we once were, working en masse, working in collaboration with other countries, building the alliances that we have enjoyed up until now.

We are now operating in a global marketplace. There has never been so much opportunity in the world for us to create products and services that we can sell around the world. Technology is rapidly changing the way we connect with each other, the way we trade, the way we live our lives. It is creating social change through connecting us together with others that care about making change happen. #blacklivesmatter #metoo it’s incredible that through one word, one hashtag we can create global movements that are changing the world for the better, empowering people who previously had no voice.

Technology brings amazing opportunities for jobs, education, connections with people around the world to solve global challenges, but in the UK we  just look backwards and complain about how it’s taking away jobs.

In less than 100 years we’ve gone from seeing the best of British to the worst of British. I’m utterly ashamed of what’s happening here now with Brexit, to me it feels like the UK at a pivotal time in history with all the amazing opportunities that are out there, is committing suicide in front of the world. At a time when we should be joining together and collaborating with other countries to make the world a better place to live in for us all, we are throwing away opportunity under the lie of making Britain great again. What an utter disgrace.

Sapper Holland – Lest we forget #RemembranceSunday2018

Thinking of my great grandfather Frederick Arthur Holland from #Weymouth who died during #WW1 #RemembranceDay2018 when my wonderful Nannie Elsie Leah Reynolds was just 4 years old 😭❤️😭

My great grandfather Sapper Holland died aged 32, the same age as my sons are now, my grandmother Elsie was 4, almost the same age as my grandson Felix is now. It just doesn’t bear thinking about😱

My grandmother grew up in very reduced circumstances with her mother working 3 jobs just to provide enough food to eat.

And despite being a fun loving and funny person always carried sadness in her heart from her father being taken away from her at such a young age 😭❤️😭 #WW1 #RemembranceSunday2018

Captain Jerry Roberts – Bletchley Park codebreaker

Here I am 9 years ago with the wonderful Captain Jerry Roberts, Bletchley Park codebreaker, at my birthday party. What an amazing man ❤️

One of the hardest things about running the campaign to save Bletchley Park is making friends with incredible people and then losing them 😭

Check out Jerry’s book Lorenz

#bletchleypark #codebreakers #testery #savingbletchley

Brexit is the UK’s suicide

We are at a pivotal point in history due the digital revolution which is disrupting everything, bringing about a social revolution, a commerce revolution and another industrial revolution. We are currently still in a reasonable position globally to be able to take part and improve the UK economy and our standard of living.

If Brexit goes ahead, a ridiculous amount of energy and resource will be focused on Brexiting. That energy and resource is needed for us to be a major player in what is now a global marketplace. We Brexit, we put ourselves out of of the game.

Collaboration and technology are the future, Brexit is the UK’s suicide. #history #brexit #technology

Read Techcrunch’s “Over 100 tech leaders back new call for a people’s vote on Brexit”

As London Tech Week launches today to talk-up the capital’s prospects, over 100 UK tech founders, directors and investors are calling on the Government to back a meaningful vote “by the people” on the actual terms of Brexit. The tech leaders are signatories to the aims of new tech business group Tech For UKwhich is backing anti-Brexit campaign group Best For Britain in its fundraising campaign for a meaningful vote on the terms of Brexit and the option to “Remain and lead in the EU”. Over 50 other tech industry players have also signed up.

Tech For UK represents the founders of many of the most innovative businesses in the UK including Martha Lane Fox (co-founder of Lastminute.com and Doteveryone), Gareth Edwards (Founder, travel player Deckchair.com), Ben Whitaker (Founder of Masabi, the smart cities ticketing startup), Bernhard Niesner (Founder of the language learning giant Busuu), Giles Andrews (Cofounder & Chairman, of P2P lending pioneer Zopa), and George Bevis (founder of small business banking provider Tide), among many others.

The list also includes Tech community leaders outside of the so-called ‘London bubble’ including Dr Sue Black OBE, Founder, TechMums and Bletchley Park campaigner; Elena Sinel, Acorn Aspirations, which teachers teenagers coding and entrepreneurship; and Nuala Murphy (CEO, Moment Health) a leading entrepreneur based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The group said the loss of access to European funds, the flight of talent which powers UK tech companies due to the uncertainty and scandal around immigration, the loss of access to the Digital Single Market, which the Uk tech industry was never consulted over — all of these factors are adversely affecting the UK Tech industry, says Tech For UK.

Funding from the European Investment Fund has collapsed since the Brexit vote, and a replacement scheme has yet to be assured long-term by the government. The European Investment Bank, which backs a majority of the United Kingdom’s VC funds, has slashed deals with UK VCs and private equity groups by more than two-thirds, with scant equivalent funding from the UK government in sight. Even a government-backed report cited Brexit as a top challenge for tech companies in the UK.

The technology sector has consistently grown faster than the UK economy in recent years, employing over two million people and attracting billions in foreign investment.

“Collectively, Tech For UK supporters have raised hundreds of millions of pounds, put hundreds of millions back into the UK economy and employed thousands of people. This is why Tech For UK is lobbying for this vote,” said co-founder Josh Russell, partner of Resolve.

“The ongoing uncertainty along with declining growth is a hard one to take. We went from the fastest growing (before Brexit) to the lowest-growing in the EU with the economy expected to grow a mere 1% in 2018. While the government argues about the Customs Union for goods, it is Services make up the bulk of the UK economy and they’ve cut off the tech sector’s access to the Digital Single Market. It’s time the people of the UK had a say on what Brexit actually is,” said Madhuban Kumar, Founder/CEO, Metafused, and co-organiser of Tech For UK.

Brexit has not happened yet and appears to be already having an effect on the UK economy. The Bank of England recently released figures that showed “the UK economy is currently 1% smaller than expected two years ago”.

Here are some quotes from Tech For UK supporters, which is continuing to call for new supporters, while there is a growing Facebook group here.

“The Brexiteers admit they can’t deliver the Brexit they promised so we deserve a vote on the one they’ve got us instead.”
George Bevis, CEO, Tide.

“The greatest sadness of Brexit is that those who voted for it will suffer the most. What was sold to them as a vote for national freedom and prosperity is only going to lead to a poorer and more divided society. The rise in racist hate crimes is just one of the signs of this. We urgently need to reconsider the path we are on and not walk blindly into the darkness.”
Hephzi Pemberton, Founder of Kiteka and Angel Investor

“We now had 2 years of due diligence on Brexit and the British people deserve a vote on this deal. Anything else would be highly irresponsible and undemocratic.”
Bernhard Niesner, CEO & Co-founder of Busuu

“‘Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons’ – it’s becoming increasingly clear that the fiction that was promised by the Leave campaign was just that, and now the truths of the damage being done to our economy and our standing in the world are laid bare. The people deserve the chance to vote on the truth – the final terms of the agreement that will decide the future of this country. Anything less would be a travesty of democracy.”
Glenn Shoosmith Founder/CEO Booking Bug

“Having been deeply involved in the U.K. and global technology ecosystem for the past 20 years and most recently as an Advisor to the EU Innovation Minister as a member of the European Innovation Council, I firmly believe that we cannot work in a vacuum. A tech company born in the UK is global from almost day one, and I fear not having a say on the final terms of Brexit will have a meaningful impact on UK’s capability to maintain its global lead in the tech sector.”
Bindi Karia, Innovation Expert + Advisor

“Once the details are visible, we can truly vote on Brexit. Will it actually allow us to build the next generation of world-beating companies or is it shifting red tape from Brussels to London and increasing the cost of trading and working with Europe?”
Riaz Kanani, MD & Founder, Radiate B2B

“The UK and especially London has become a vibrant and globally successful centre for technology innovation. Many of the most exciting startup businesses here have been founded by immigrant entrepreneurs and grown with UK and European employees joining the companies as they grow rapidly. Any Brexit which does not keep the UK in the single market and customs union would in my view considerably dampen the prospects for tech start-ups here in the UK – there would be less of them and they would find it harder to grow as rapidly. We need a meaningful vote on the terms of Brexit.”
Simon Murdoch, Managing Partner, Episode 1 Ventures

“As technology entrepreneurs and investors, we are working in global markets. Access to talent and low barriers to market entry are key to secure the momentum of our industries. Brexit is the most important decisions for generations and it would be irresponsible not to let people have a decision on the exact term of the world they will live in”
Volker Hirsch, Angel investor and co-founder of Tech North Advocates

“As a Northern Ireland native, I’ve seen first hand the difficulty that division can cause, just as I can see the major and needless impact that Brexit is having on bringing back the divisions on that island. Isolation and protectionism has never proven to be a positive long-term strategy, and that is becoming clear in this case too. And with more in the tech industry, and in the UK as a whole, considering themselves citizens of the world, we risk closing our doors and driving away a diverse set of people that help make us all better.”
Rob Elkin, Busuu

“Our world-leading digital industry is being led into a back water of mediocrity by a crop of leaders who don’t even know what Brexit they want and why they want it. By keeping the best talent in the world out with central government quotas on immigration they’ve pulled down the shutters. Digital leaders will simply start up elsewhere. Let’s end this nonsense now, reopen our borders to Europe and the world, and bring back the experts!”
Toby Beresford, Rise

“I spent 12 years working in China – living over there I came to appreciate the value, and leverage, that comes with size. We are a small nation of 65m and I do not believe we are strong or powerful enough to go it alone in a rapidly globalising world. We are European and can’t pretend otherwise. We already have clients making London-based teams redundant as they move whole divisions to Ireland. I catch myself thinking “well it’s ok I’m sure the government know what they’re doing…” and instantly remember they clearly do not. A people’s vote is the common sense choice now that we all really understand what is at stake.”
Ed Dean, CEO, Woodseer Global

“Brexit affects everything from our relationships with family to our global standing, even potentially the Peace Process and Scottish Independence, so I was disappointed to see the campaigns be so divisive, muddied, vague, and in many cases inaccurate. We punch above our weight, which means we have a lot to lose. The country of Magna Carta and the Mother of Parliaments deserves a meaningful debate on concrete options, and a vote based on considered strategic goals. The young people of the UK are the ones who will have to deliver those goals. Right now they don’t want Brexit at all, so if it’s to succeed they need to feel heard and their concerns addressed.”
Richard Marr, CEO, BeApplied

“Once the government has negotiated the final terms for Brexit, it must give the electorate the opportunity to vote on whether to agree to those terms or not. Given the gravity of impact on our lives, businesses and the future prosperity of our children; it would, in my humble opinion, be both undemocratic and immoral not to do so. If we believe it is better to remain part of the EU as an alternative to that proposal, we should be given the chance to vote for that as an option too.”
Peter Ward, Co-founder, Humanity Inc

“Britons voted for Brexit in the initial referendum with inadequate and often wholly spurious information on both sides of the argument. For a decision which will impact our children’s lives across the decades and our commercial lives within a matter of months, it is incomprehensible not to give it the scrutiny it deserves: from parliament at least, and ideally the voting public.”
Nick Saalfeld, Director, Wells Park Communications

“London is Europe’s leading tech hub fuelled by talent from across the continent. A bad deal threatens to undermine the most dynamic part of our economy. If the government strikes a deal that lets us continue to thrive then they have no reason to fear a people’s vote on the terms of Brexit.”
Andy Cockburn, CEO & Co-founder, MentionMe

“We employ a bunch of highly skilled people and 70% of our staff don’t have a UK passport. Finding and attracting great team members is a major challenge and is the single biggest constraint on our growth. Anything we can do to make it easier for smart people to come to the UK is a bonus. Doing the opposite is frankly economic suicide.”
Adam Fudakowski, CEO, Switchee

“If the chief objective of the original Brexit vote is about ensuring that the people have their say, then a positive endorsement by the people is the only logical form of ratification that can be conceived in order to commit our great nation to the most material economic and social decision it’s made since entering World War II.”
Alex Hoye, Co-founder, The Faction Collective

“Our research on the Top500 multichannel retailers in Europe shows the UK as an admired leader in retail, logistics and the underlying technologies and skills. The market for talent, customers and capability requires frictionless access, a consistent and open commercial framework, and an appropriate regulatory framework. Harnessing the talents of the technology, digital and commercial sectors will help the UK chart the best course for its future, and we call upon Parliament to be free to engage in an open debate while retaining its constitutional obligation to act in the interest of the country’s future.”
Ian Jindal, Founder, Pencil / InternetRetailing

“As a growing tech business in the UK we’re already seeing the brexit effect, restricting access to the best talent and holding back advertisers from investing in brand growth. If these corrosive economic effects weren’t clear before the referendum, they are now – and we think people should have the opportunity to vote for the first time with a clear idea of how damaging brexit will be for jobs, growth and innovation.”
Andrew Walmsley, Chairman, Inskin Media

A partial list of backers to date is reproduced below:

Adam Fudakowski, CEO, Switchee
Adam Price, Founder, VouchedFor & Hatch
Alex Hoye, Co-founder, The Faction Collective
Andrea Tricoli, Co-Founder, Expressly
Andrew Walmsley, Non Exec Chairman, Inskin Media
Andy Cockburn, CEO & Cofounder, Mention Me
Ben Evans, Co-Founder, jClarity
Ben Farren, CEO, SPOKE
Ben Whately, Co-founder and COO, Memrise
Ben Whitaker, Founder, Masabi
Benjamin A. Falk, Founder, Yo-Da (your data)
Benjamin Redford, Co-founder, Mayku
Benji Lanyado, Founder & CEO, Picfair
Bernhard Niesner, CEO, Busuu
Bindi Karia, Innovation Expert & Advisor,
Blaine Cook, Principal Architect, Condé Nast
Carlos Oliveira, Founder & CEO, Shaping Cloud
Cassandra Stavrou, Founder, Propercorn
Cécile Baird, Founder, Decentrl.Agency
Charlie Dobres, CEO, Busking It Productions
Chris Greening, CTO, Managed Respone Marketing Ltd
Chris Pointon, Co-founder, Racefully
Chris Tolmie, Director, Catacoms
Colin Pyle, CEO & Founder, CRU Kafe
Conor Graham, Cofounder, #HackTheHub
Courtney Glymph, Product and Solutions Communications, CA Technologies
Damien Tanner, Investor,
Daniel Appelquist, Director of Web Advocacy & Open Source, Samsung Research UK
Daniel Murray, Co Founder, Grabble
David Batey, Founder, Nickelled Ltd
David Coveney, Director, interconnect/it
David Tenemaza Kramaley, CEO, Chessable
Dimitar Stanimiroff, CEO & Co-founder, Heresy
Dominic Campbell, CEO, Futuregov
Dr Sue Black OBE, Founder, TechMums
Ed Dean, CEO, Woodseer Global
Ed French, CEO, GameSessions
Ed Lascelles, Partner, Albion Capital
Elena Sinel, Acorn Aspirations
Ethar Alali, Managing Director, Axelisys Limited
Fabrice Bernhard, Co-Founder, Theodo
Frank Kelcz, Partner, Collider VC
Gareth Edwards, Founder, Deckchair.com
Gareth Quinn, Founder, Digital DNA
George Bevis, CEO, Tide
Gianluca Gindro, Senior Data Scientist, Geophy
Gilbert Corrales, CEO, Leaf.fm Ltd
Giles Andrews, Cofounder & Chairman, Zopa
Glenn Shoosmith, Founder & CEO, Bookingbug
Guy Morris, Managing Director, Quiz the Nation
Guy Podjarny, Founder & CEO, Snyk
Hephzi Pemberton, Founder, Kiteka
Hilary Anne Stephenson, Managing Director, Sigma
Hoi Lam, Head of Wear OS Developer Relations, Google
Hywel Carver, CEO/CTO, Multiple
Ian Jindal, Founder, Pencil / InternetRetailing
Ilicco Elia, Head Of Mobile, Deloitte Digital
Irfon Watkins, Founder, Dovu
Ivan Mazour, CEO and Founder, Ometria
Jack Huang, Director, TrulyExperiences.com
James Evans, Managing Director, Bluespot.io Ltd
James Whatley, Planning Partner, Ogilvy UK
Jana Hlistova, Founder, Diversity Hacks
Janna Bastow, Cofounder, ProdPad
Jason Trost, CEO / founder, Smarkets
Jessica Kennedy White,, UCL Educate
Joanna Goodman, Tech Journalist,
John Stevenson, VP Equity Derivatives, Citi
Jon Atkinson, Technical Director, FARM Digital Ltd.
Jonathan Grubin, Founder & CEO, SoPost
Jonathan Petrides, Founder, allplants
Josh Feldberg, Head of Digital, 89up
Josh Russell, Partner, Resolve
Joshua Wöhle, CTO, SuperAwesome
Julio Alejandro, CEO & Founder, Jada Consulting – “Taming Disruptive Technologies”
Kaj Wik Siebert, CTO, Social Finance
Katie Moffat, Head Of Digital, The Audience Agency
Kevin Schmidt, CTO, Century Tech
Laure Claire Reillier, Co-Founder and COO, Launchworks & Co
Laurence Kemball-Cook, Founder & CEO, Pavegen
Madhuban Kumar, CEO, Metafused
Marc Roberts, CTO, HiyaCar
Marc Sloan, Co-Founder & CEO, Context Scout
Marcus Greenwood, CEO, Ubio
Martha Lane-Fox, Founder, doteveryone
Martijn Verburg, CEO, jClarity
Martin Goodson, CEO, Evolution AI
Marty Neill, Founder, Airpos
Matthew Gardiner, Founder, Catch London
Matthew Painter, Founder CTO, Import.io
Melanie Moeller, Product Lead, Sky Spain
Merje Shaw, MD, Path59
Michele Cuccovillo, Partner, Rock Mission
Natasha Guerra, CEO, Runway East
Neil Cocker, CEO, Ramptshirts.com
Nic Brisbourne, Managing Partner, Forward Partners
Nicholas Katz, CEO, Acasa
Nick Patterson, Founder, Movemeon
Nick Saalfeld, Director, Wells Park Communications
Nuala Murphy, CEO, Moment Health
Oisin Lunny, Chief Evangelist, OpenMarket
Osvaldo Spadano, Founder & CEO, Akoova
Paul Dempsey, Founder/Director, The Curation Company
Paul Dyson, CTO, Singletrack
Peter Ward, Founder, WAYN
Pilgrim Beart, CEO, DevicePilot
Priya Prakash, Founder, D4SC
Raj Anand, CEO & Cofounder, Goodman Lantern
Raph Crouan, CEO & Founder, Startupbootcamp IoT
Riaz Kanani, MD & Founder, Radiate B2B
Richard Marr, Cofounder, Be Applied
Rob Elkin, CTO, Busuu
Rob O’Donovan, Ceo, Charlie HR
Rob Prevett, Co Founder & CEO, D/SRUPTION
Robin Grant, Chairman & Co-founder, We Are Social
Roger Nolan, Founder, The Culture Trip
Roger Nolan, SVP Tech, Culture Trip
Rupert Baines, CEO, UltraSoC
Sachin Dev Duggal, Founder, Engineer.ai
Simon Bennett, Founding Director, Roll7
Simon Murdoch, Founder, Episode1 Partners
St John Deakins, Founder & CEO, CitizenMe
Stephen Johnston, Founder, Fordcastle
Stephen Roberts, Founder, Vigilant Research
Sue Keogh, Founder, Sookio
Sultan Saidov, Co Founder, CPO, Beamery
Sundar Venkitachalam, Co-founder & CTO, nkoda
Tamara Sword, Founder, TRM&C
Thanasis Polychronakis, CTO, Alacrity Law
Thomas Power, Board Member, 9Spokes
Tim Boughton, CTO, Mention Me Ltd
Tim Fernando, CEO, Esplorio
Tim Hampson, Co Founder, SalesSeek
Tim Parlett, Co-Founder of Zopa, N/A (ex Zopa)
Timothy Brownstone, CEO, KYMIRA
Toby Beresford, CEO, Rise.global
Tom Adeyoola, CEO & Founder, Metail
Tom Alisi, Director, deep.ventures
Tom Bradley, Partner, Oxford Capital Partners
Tom de Grunwald, Creative Director, Microclimate
Tom Watson, Co-Founder & CTO, Hubble
Tristan Palmer, CEO & Cofounder
Tushar Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Hubble
Uma Rajah, Cofounder & CEO, CapitalRise
Volker Hirsch, Founder, Blue Beck / Tech North Advocates
William Reeve, CEO, Goodlord
William Roberts, Founder, Loyalty Bay

70th anniversary Enigma reunion at Bletchley Park in 2009 #Bpark

8 years ago today was the 70th anniversary Enigma reunion at Bletchley Park.
The the wonderful Maggie Philbin and many other awesome people Christian Payne, Kate Arkless Gray, Benjamin Ellis, Hannah Nicklin, Matt Rawlinson and Steve Lawson, came up to Bletchley Park with me to interview as many veterans as possible to capture their memories of their time working on cracking the codes during WW2.
Here with Maggie is the phenomenal codebreaker Captain Jerry Roberts RIP, wonderful man and great family friend.
maggie jerry
We had an absolutely wonderful day with the hundreds of veterans that came along spending the whole day capturing as much as possible for posterity.
I had started a campaign to save Bletchley Park the previous year in July 2008 and met quite a few veterans, but this was the first time that I really got to meet hundreds of veterans and hear at first hand so many of their amazing stories.
Here are some photos from the day taken by Benjamin Ellis and Steve Lawson. There are many more, check out all the #bpark70 pics from the day on Flickr.
Here are a few of the interviews conducted that day in 2009.

I chatted to Hannah, giving an overview the day and speaking about the amazing discussions we had all had with the veterans.

Christian Payne interviewed many veterans on the day. Here are just some of his interviews. Enjoy 🙂

Interview by Christian with Bletchley Park veteran Margaret Warner of the WAAF:

Christian interviews Bletchley Park veteran Kathleen Saunders

Christian interviews Bletchley Park veteran Captain Jerry Roberts

Christian interviews Bletchley Park radio security intercept officer Alan Gordon Jackson

For more stories about Bletchley Park and the campaign we ran to save it check out my book Saving Bletchley Park.

US Amazon link here: Saving Bletchley Park 

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Interviews with Bletchley Park veterans at Bletchley Park Enigma Reunion in 2010 #bpark2010

In September 2010 I was campaigning hard for Bletchley Park to be saved. I had started the campaign in 2008 after finding out that Bletchley Park were having financial difficulties and may have to close.

The whole story of the campaign along with the history of Bletchley Park, the women of Bletchley Park, Alan Turing, Enigma and much more are in my book Saving Bletchley Park. Saving Bletchley Park currently has 63 five star reviews on Amazon UK.

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Some awesome people came with me on Enigma Reunion day 2010 to interview veterans that came along on the day including former head of GCHQ Sir Arthur Bonsall. Below are a few of those interviews conducted by @radiokate and @ALRanson. Which is your favourite?

 

If you would like to know more about Bletchley Park and the campaign to save it do check out my book Saving Bletchley Park.

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DRIVING A BUS AROUND BLETCHLEY PARK #BUCKETLIST @SAVINGBLETCHLEY

There are so many interesting people on Twitter, and once you have your own network up and growing usually people will let you know if there is anything or anyone around that you might be interested in. For example one evening in January 2010 I was looking through tweets and chatting to friends on Twitter when a Twitter friend @HD41117 put me in touch with @beckie_williams. It turned out that Beckie’s great-grandfather recruited Kim Philby. How amazing is that?

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It is also a great place for things like book recommendations

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@SteveHills who I didn’t really know at the time of tweeting, but is now a great friend, recommended Agent Zigzag by Ben McIntyre to me. I ready it when I was away on holiday and it became my favourite book ever. It is the amazing story of Eddie Chapman, an English double agent who is an absolute character. Another great connection on Twitter was connecting to @herokate a year or so later. Kate’s boyfriend is a great guy called Michael who runs a famous Soho bar, a bar that Eddie Chapman use to frequent. I had a great chat with Michael one evening at my friend @Daren140’s birthday drinks. Daren introduced me to Kate who introduced me to Michael, and Michael told me stories from when he sued to hang out with Eddie Chapman. I love my Twitter friends 🙂

Something else very cool that happened because of Twitter at around the same time was that I got to achieve an ambition that I had had since I was five years old. I had really wanted to drive a big red London bus. I had tweeted this in to @davegorman in response to a request from him to everyone listening to his Absolute Radio show on a Saturday in January 2010. Dave had asked everyone to tweet in their childhood ambitions, so I duly tweeted saying that when I was five I wanted to drive a London bus. Dave was choosing some of the ambitions and trying to connect people up to help make them happen. Luckily for me I didn’t need Dave to help my ambition come true as Kelsey at Bletchley Park had seen my tweet, contacted the local gay nightclub Pink Punters in Fenny Stratford and asked them if I could drive their bus around Bletchley Park. How exciting 🙂

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Kelsey arranged for the bus driving to coincide with the next Station X social media cafe.

To make sure that I was a fit driver we needed to have a practice, so we all turned up for Station X and then got on the bus together to be driven to the Milton Keynes stadium car park. It reminded me a bit of the film “Summer Holiday” with Cliff  Richard. I was really excited and the bus was buzzing with everyone chatting about what they had been up to since the last Station X and whatever the latest was in our Twittersphere. It didn’t take long to drive to the stadium. Once there I was given a quick overview of what I needed to do, and then we were away. It wasn’t actually as different to driving a car as I had expected. The steering wheel on the bus was massive though and that took a bit of getting used to. I drove around the car park a few times, then had a go at a few different manoeuvres like driving backwards between two traffic cones. After 20 minutes or so the lovely guys from Pink Punters were satisfied that I was able to drive. I got back into the back of the bus and they drove us all back to Bletchley Park.

Once back, the driver parked the bus in front of the mansion house and got out of the driver’s cab. I went around the front and got in to drive. I was slightly nervous. What if I crashed into one of the huts? Just imagine how dreadful that would be.

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Photos by @9600 Andrew Back

I got in the cab, started the engine and off we went to cheers from the Station X crew on the bus. The roads at Bletchley Park are pretty narrow so it wasn’t as easy as driving around a massive car park. I did a couple of circuits around without any major problems, and then started around for the third time. I was getting a bit cocky, so I drove a bit faster the third time. Half way around I managed to hit a traffic cone when taking a corner, but that was fine, what’s a traffic cone between friends? We were almost around and it was all going well, I slowed down gradually to park in front of the mansion, and as we slowed pulled over to the kerb slightly so that the bus wouldn’t block any other vehicles that wanted to go past. I slowed right down almost to a stop, and then managed somehow to take the bus up the kerb and stop on the kerb. Awww. I had driven really well until the very last few seconds and then mucked it up. Ah well. I’d not injured anyone or anything, I’d managed not to crash into a hut, we had all had a bit of a laugh and I had achieved an ambition I’d had since I was five years old.

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Here’s a video of my efforts shot by @mikistrange on the day.

I got in touch with @davegorman afterwards to let him know that because of him I had remembered and now succeeded in fulfilling a childhood ambition. I got to meet Dave in person some time after that when he did his “Powerpoint Presentation” gig at the Royal Festival Hall, and then again when we both appeared on the Infinite Monkey Cage with Robin Ince, Brian Cox and Simon Singh in 2012. He’s a lovely guy. He helped calm me down just before we were about to go on stage when Brian Cox had jokingly said something like

“Is it alright if I ask you complicated technical questions during the show?” to me.

I almost had heart failure, though of course I tried not to show it. Dave did a great job after that backstage of making me laugh and keeping me calm. What a great guy 🙂

***

This is an excerpt from the pre edit version of Saving Bletchley Park by Dr Sue Black which is now available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

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From 2003 to 2017 – Saving Bletchley Park, the Women of Station X, Stephen Fry, the Imitation Game and the Duchess of Cambridge #Bpark

I often get asked about Bletchley Park and my connection with it. Here are a few links that give an overview of my 14 year fascination and involvement.

 

Finding out about the women who worked there is how I first got interested in Bletchley Park in 2003, I got funding for an oral history project “The Women of Station X” to record the memories of the women who worked there:

 

 

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then I found out that Bletchley Park might have to close so I started a campaign to save it. The whole story is captured in my book:

 

US Amazon – Saving Bletchley Park

 

UK Amazon – Saving Bletchley Park

 

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and some of the highlights on my blog from 2008, read from the bottom up to get an overview of how my campaign started and what we did including getting Stephen Fry involved:
 
Here’s my old school 2008 blog: http://savingbletchleypark.org/

 

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I spoke about my life and the campaign last December at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA

 

 

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It’s been so wonderful to see the recognition of Bletchley Park growing over the years since the campaign started with books like Andrew Hodges – Alan Turing: The Enigma getting recognition and films being made like The Imitation Game starring great Hollywood actors like Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.

 

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Also who could forget the visit of the Duchess of Cambridge to Bletchley Park whose grandmother and great aunt worked at Bletchley Park.

 

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Have a look at these links and then comment below if you have any questions, or @ me on Twitter @Dr_Black, I’d love to hear from you 🙂

 

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I won the Digital Agenda Editor’s award for outstanding contribution to technology for good #tech4good #digitalimpact 

I was deeply honoured and absolutely delighted to win the special Editor’s Impact award at the Digital Agenda  Impact awards last week for my ” outstanding contribution to technology for good”. 

It was an amazing afternoon full of great catchups with friends in the tech for good space and interesting and exciting conversations with so many incredible social entrepreneurs 😍👍🎉 

XMAS PRESENT IDEA!! A personally dedicated copy of Saving Bletchley Park

Live in or near London and want a personally dedicated copy of Saving Bletchley Park for a loved one for Christmas?
Order Saving Bletchley Park here now for delivery tomorrow:
You should receive it tomorrow – Thursday
Bring it along on Friday lunchtime at 1pm to the Royal Festival Hall Cafe, on London/s South Bank and I’ll dedicate it for you 🙂
Please let me know here that you are coming here:
See you on Friday!!!
Merry Christmas!!!