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Claire Malcolm

Left: 1986

Chief Executive: New Writing North

Name: Claire Malcolm

Achievement: Chief Executive – New Writing North

Year of leaving school: 1986

I graduated from Canon Lee in 1986. I loved school and learning and was always mad about the creative arts and history. However, at school I was always in lower sets for English as my spelling was poor. I left Canon Lee, was the first person in my family to make my way to university and ended up finding my way into working in the literature industries via stints in art galleries and theatres.

For 23 years I’ve been the Chief Executive of New Writing North, the reading and writing organisation for the North of England which is based in Newcastle and works across the North. I now run literary prizes and awards, produce a festival, publish books and every day work with amazing writers whose work I admire. I never thought that this would be possible when I was 16 and leaving school.

I would say to students that finding your passion and going all out for working out how you can find work and build a career in that industry or profession is the key. Also, be open to where opportunities might take you but always put yourself forward for them and work harder than everyone else to stand out and make a success of them. I now oversee recruitment and these are still the traits that I look for in entry level employees. 

Working class kids from York can end up in creative and interesting jobs if they work hard.

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