Having been brought up in the local area, I have lived in Staithes, Egton, Whitby and most recently Goathland. I attended Botton Village Steiner School before moving to Caedmon School in Whitby. I then studied GCSEs at Whitby Community College (as it was then known), followed by A-Levels in English Literature, Fine Art and Psychology at Scarborough Sixth Form College. After a year out working in local jobs and training as a volunteer Fire Fighter in my local village, I enrolled at Newcastle University, where I gained a 2:1 BA Hons in Mandarin Chinese, Asian Studies and European Philosophy, spending the 3rd year of my course living and studying in Shanghai.
Hugo at Scarborough Indoor Market and local tea stall
Having graduated I decided to join my father in his start-up business, a natural medicines company in the very early stages of development, where we worked together to build up the business from a small office in the front room of our family home. That company now has a purpose built 8000 sq foot factory and laboratory, employing 10 local people on our site in the Whitby Business Park.
Travel, volunteering & support work
From 2007 to 2010 I took a break from the business to gain experience in other sectors. During that time I spent a very rewarding period travelling and volunteering in Africa - working with an NGO delivering education and sexual health awareness programs. On returning to the UK I moved to London and began working at Toynbee Hall as a Financial Inclusion Project Worker, focussed on delivering support to victims of loan sharks. This experience showed me the reality of life for people on the margins of society and how easy it can be for any one of us to end up in a highly precarious and chaotic situation, given a lack of opportunity or a run of bad luck. This role gave me a solid understanding of casework involving individuals with multiple needs. It showed me the importance of coordinating access to diverse services from housing support, to financial advice, to help with substance abuse and domestic violence.
Public sector & journalism
Whilst living in London I also had the opportunity to work at the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency, as an HR Administrator. This gave me a chance to use and develop my skills in a public sector setting and gave me an insight into the running of a large quango. During my time in London I was also able to hone my writing skills by volunteering as a features writer for a community-based newspaper, the Hackney Citizen. Examples of my work can be accessed here:
Making ends meet
From London I moved to Bristol and did a number of jobs ranging from bar work to self-employed painter/decorator. This time was punctuated by periods where I had very little income and the jobs I did were not stable or long term. This type of hand to mouth existence was very stressful and gave me an appreciation of the financial struggles huge numbers of people face on a day-to-day basis.
Building an ethical enterprise
In 2010 I rejoined the family business and moved back to the Whitby area. For the past 8 years, I have dedicated myself to building an ethical and sustainable local business which operates in the interests of not only the directors and shareholders but also the staff, the community and the wider environment. I am very proud of the fact that we are committed to paying the Real Living Wage to all our staff and sub-contractors. Our factory is powered by 100% renewable energy. We also support working mothers by donating a portion of our sales to the campaigning, advice and advocacy organisation Pregnant Then Screwed.
Commitment to my community
During this time I have been an active Labour Party supporter, which eventually led to my involvement with the local party during the 2015 general election, when I volunteered for Ian McInnes' campaign. Since then I have become a committed member and activist, chairing the local branch and standing in both County Council Elections and a Borough Council By-Election in the last year - creating big increases in the Labour vote in previously safe Tory wards. Outside of elections I have also played an active role in reinvigorating the local party by helping to instigate a campaigns communication system across the constituency Labour Party and contributing to the establishment of regular political discussion nights.
The time is right to turn Scarborough & Whitby red once more and I am confident I am the best-placed candidate to deliver this. I am not a career politician, but someone who has lived a varied life and gained a lot of valuable real-world experience. I consider myself humble but highly motivated, with a deep connection to this wonderful part of the country and a real passion for improving the lives of the people who live here.
Help me win my campaign by volunteering to:
- hold an event or fundraiser
- come out canvassing
- send out leaflets or mail