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.
Mary Berry is the nation's favourite baker and home cook. The much-loved judge of The Great British Bake Off, Mary is the author of more than 70 cookbooks. Mary is loved for her practical and unfussy approach to cooking, but when she is at home, she loves to be with her family and tending her garden - her other great passion.
RAYMOND BLANC is renowned for his passion for seasonal, sustainable and organic produce. When sourcing food for his two Michelin-starred restaurant, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, he makes sure to know everything about its provenance. With his gardeners, he has cultivated herb beds, a two-acre vegetable garden, a mushroom valley and heritage orchard. Raymond champions an ethical approach to cooking with sourcing and seasonality at the heart of it. He is involved in many movements and is honorary President of The Sustainable Restaurant Association and Vice President of Garden Organic. THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, KEW is a world-famous scientific organisation, holding an unrivalled position for its outstanding collections of plants and fungi, artefacts and art, world-class Herbarium as well as its expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development. From its beginnings as a small physic garden in 1759 it has grown to become a top international visitor attraction and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kew's 132 hectares of stunning landscaped gardens and iconic glasshouses make it one of the world's best-loved gardens, a paradise for plant lovers, offering a wealth of ideas and inspiration to all.