Mike has had an interesting life and a chequered career during which he has been fostered, signed into the army at 15, married, divorced, an assistant architect, single parent, student, community activist, barman, cleaner, pizza chef and unemployed before joining the voluntary sector. There he rescued charities from closure and made them successful, for which work he received national commendations. 16 years ago he set up his own business.
He has run the London Marathon twice and renovated five properties as well as having bouts of depression and a breakdown.
Following therapy, he has now been happily married for 20 years and has embarked on his 6th career in writing and public speaking.
Born in Surrey Docks during wartime, Mike’s life has seen post war austerity, the creation of the welfare state, the cold war, the social and cultural explosion of the 1960’s, the unrest of the 1970’s, the greed of the 1980’s, the near collapse of our financial system, more austerity and the recognition that climate change threatens our very way of life on this tiny planet. Yet he remains an optimist, albeit a more cynical one these days.
With his mother’s death when he was 5, Mike was fostered and lived a, somewhat, transient life. Signed into the army at 15, he married and had 2 children. His claim to fame during this period is that he was responsible for the War Room map during the Cuban missile crisis. At 27, he left the army to pursue a career as an architect and, in his mid 30’s divorced and with custody of his children, moved to a rundown terraced house in Yorkshire to become a full time student. Within weeks, he found himself involved in the community arts and environmental movement, engaging in some sex, drugs and rock “n” roll. Along the way, he had a series of relationships and worked as a barman, cleaner, pizza chef and washer up.
Leaving School of Architecture, he got involved in the burgeoning city farm movement and was instrumental in setting up the National Federation of City Farms. Returning to Yorkshire, he was unemployed for a while before he took up the post of Project Manager of the new city farm in Leeds. The farm had no permanent buildings, access road or mains services and was threatened with immediate closure. Over the next six years, it was turned into one of the best examples of its kind in the country.
Looking for another challenge and with his children now adult, he moved to London to manage a national charity. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong one and his contract was terminated after 18 months. Unemployed with two mortgages, he returned to the drawing board until he was appointed as the first Director of the Walter Segal Trust, which helped people who were homeless and unemployed to build their own homes. This, too, was a new charity in danger of closure and, again, was rescued and turned into a successful organisation.
In recognition of his work, Mike was shortlisted for the Jamieson Award for an outstanding contribution to the voluntary sector and highly commended in The Guardian Jerwood Award for excellence in the charity field. He has also visited Belgium, Bulgaria, and Russia to advise on self help initiatives and, 15 years ago, set up his own community development and environmental consultancy. So whatever experience there is of employment, or the lack of it, in all sectors of the economy, he has experience of it.
Following depression and a breakdown, in an effort to break a pattern of failed relationships and self destructive behaviour, he went into therapy. As a result, he has now been happily married for 20 years, has a young daughter and 3 grandchildren. He has also renovated 5 properties and, in his mid 50’s, ran the London Marathon twice. He still runs and goes to the gym today. Now at an age when many opt for cardigan and slippers, he has embarked on his sixth and, possibly, final career. His first two books, “The Real Big Society” and “The Other Side of the Doors”, an autobiography, are now available on Amazon and he is part way through two others; one of which “Why Don’t You Just Support Arsenal?” is the memoir of a Spurs’ supporter. The chance to study for an MA in Creative Writing is the icing on the cake.