Mike’s only claim to fame during his army service was that he was responsible for the War Room map in the headquarters of the British Army in Germany during the Cuba missile crisis. Scary times indeed.
Mike has featured on or in:
- Yorkshire Television’s Calendar programme
- The Architects’ Journal
- Information Daily
- Harrogate Advertiser
- Yorkshire Post
THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm
On leaving School of Architecture, Mike was unemployed until he took up the post of Project Manager of the new city farm in Leeds on a job creation scheme. Unbeknown to him when he took the job, the council had arranged an inspection of the project at the end of his first week when the plan was to close it down. The project had no permanent buildings and no gas, electricity, water supply, toilet facilities or proper access road and it was run from two old caravans with fencing made of iron bedsteads.
All those working on the project were unemployed and the farm was run while it was being built. Derelict buildings on the other side of Meanwood Beck were leased and a bridge built to provide access so that these could be renovated and converted. Those who worked on the farm still consider it to have been a magic place, what Mike calls, one of those “little bits of Wonderland”. Six years later, the project was one of the best examples of its type in the country and, having achieved all he set out to do, Mike looked for a new challenge.
Walter Segal Self Build Trust
The Trust was another new charity under threat of closure when Mike was appointed as its Director. It was also rescued and turned into a successful organisation, one that helped people who were homeless and/or unemployed, to build their own homes. Ten years later, when Mike left the Trust, a national network had been set up along with 300 self built homes and 30 community buildings.
Participants included both men and woman, old and young. Hedgehog Self Build in Brighton actually featured on “Grand Designs” and, notably, on “Grand Designs Revisited”, 12 years later. One, even more notable project, was at Mill Lane in north London where a group of people with special needs, with other volunteers, built their own their own horticultural training centre. As examples of mutual self help, these schemes take some beating with many of them winning awards. Indeed, one government minister at the time described them as examples of “the extraordinary abilities of ordinary people”.
Stepney City Farm
As a consultant, Mike has also rescued other charities from closure, notably Stepney City Farm. The project had been in dire straits for many years, despite the efforts of others to rectify the situation. Mike was told that his would be the last attempt. A new charity was set up with those who had previously run the project, leaving. A new management committee was set up, funds were raised and the whole project, with the assistance of Crossrail, was completely redeveloped and relaunched two years later. It is well worth as visit.
Mike has also renovated five properties over the past 30 years including the one where he and his family now live in Camden.