Ralph Barker joined the RAF in 1940, serving as an air gunner and wireless operator until 1945. He was fortunate enough never to end up 'down in the drink' himself, though his Beaufort was hit a few times, and he survived a crash on take-off in which his pilot and navigator were killed. After the war, he worked in civil aviation for a short time, before rejoining the RAF, to work in the secretariat until 1961. DOWN IN THE DRINK (1957) was his first book to be published. It launched a successful career as a writer, in the course of which he has written over a dozen books on the RAF, books on terrorism and war at sea, and hundreds of feature articles for the Sunday Express. He celebrated his ninetieth birthday in 2007 - fifty years after the first publication of DOWN IN THE DRINK, shortly after attending a party celebrating its republication.
Nicola Barry is a feature writer and columnist. She has worked at the Edinburgh Evening News for five years and for The Scotsman. As a child, she spent eight years in a wheelchair and on crutches, having some twenty operations on both legs. She learned to walk again, just in time to break her neck and become addicted to alcohol, both of which she overcame. She is a recent graduate of the celebrated MPhil course in Creative Writing at Glasgow University and is currently studying for a PhD in the same field.She has won 29 press awards, mainly for social issue writing and for her columns and lives with her husband Alastair Murray and dog Coll in Edinburgh.
Emma Bridgewater established her successful pottery business in 1985. She found a manufacturer in Stoke-on-Trent to produce a range of mugs, jugs and teapots inspired by traditional shapes and spongeware designs. She now employs over 230 people and continues to make all her ceramics in Staffordshire, the historic home of pottery manufacture in Britain. Emma is married with four children and lives outside Oxford, where she was brought up.Follow Emma on Twitter: @EmmaBridgewater www.emmabridgewater.co.uk
Sheena Byrom was born and brought up in North West England and has lived and worked there all her life. Sheena's career spans 35 years - and she has recently taken early retirement to complete a PhD in normal childbirth with the University of Nottingham. She is married wit hfour children, one of whom has followed her mother's footsteps in becoming a midwife lecturer.