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Tom Crocker, Sport Journalist

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Tom’s sport journalist career had beginnings at our very own AFC Bournemouth. Since then he has written for MSN and currently as Sports Editor for The Wokingham Paper.
Credit: Neil Graham Photography

Not all successful careers begin with a university degree. In fact, they can start pretty well on their own without one, as our latest story, featuring sports journalist Tom Crocker proves…

It is scary how true the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know…” is. But if it sets you on your chosen career path, so much the better. Sport journalist and Poole local Tom Crocker forewent a university degree in favour of a practical short course in Bournemouth, which gave him all the contacts and experience he needed to establish a full-time writing career. We found out the ins and outs of his journey.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?

It probably goes back to when I was at school. I was quite good at English, not so much at maths, and enjoyed creative writing. Right from the early days, I always enjoyed it. I think that’s where a lot of what you do in later life comes from – what you enjoyed doing at school. And I usually had half-decent marks for it.

WHY SPECIFICALLY DID YOU WANT TO WRITE ABOUT SPORT?

My main passion is football. Obviously, most kids tend to play football and I realised pretty quickly that I wasn’t good enough to pursue that as a career. So then you try to find another way to get into it. When you look at what I do now – sports writing – it’s probably the next-best thing. Getting paid to write about football and travel the country, it becomes a 24/7 thing.

YOU DECIDED TO TRAIN IN JOURNALISM PRIVATELY. WHAT SPARKED THAT DECISION AND HOW DID YOU COME BY THE TRAINING?

Someone came into my school, saying they ran these eight-month short courses at the Bournemouth Echo offices. There were three or four people running it – I think they were university lecturers – who all came together to run these courses.

I was hooked on doing it as soon as I went to that talk. There were a couple of reasons why I wanted to do it. First of all I didn’t particularly want to get into a student debt unless I needed to. But the main reason was I wanted to get working quicker, rather than training for three years. Maybe you get different opportunities at university, but I was already doing sport-oriented work experience before I started that course anyway.

The only thing I needed to get was a qualification to back it up. So, I thought, rather than wait three years, I could get it in eight months and go straight into work from there. Of course, I did have to pay a lot of money up front – it was about £4,000 – but I felt it was a short-term problem to get me playing a long-term game, as it were.

DID YOU EVER WANT TO WRITE ABOUT OTHER SUBJECTS, OUTSIDE OF SPORT?

Well, like I said, going right back to school, they make you do creative writing. That was always something I enjoyed. And even when I first started out as a journalist, I was writing about the food and catering business – a website called The Staff Canteen – that was my first paid job. When I first started that, it was only me and one other person. Since then, I think they have a whole team of people writing there.

People generally say you can’t get into sport journalism straight away. So many people want to do it, so you have to do other things first. I was still doing freelance bits in sport journalism here and there at the time, and The Staff Canteen was the part-time job paying the bills. I was doing work experience at AFC Bournemouth on match days alongside all that, too.

Now I’m in sport, I’m quite keen to try and stay there!

FROM MSN SPORT TO THE WOKINGHAM PAPER – WHO IS THE MOST IMPRESSIVE PERSON YOU HAVE MET OR INTERVIEWED?

With The Wokingham Paper, it’s mostly local people you come to know. But there are a couple of names that spring to mind. One would be Jaap Stam, when he was manager at Reading. I was lucky enough to be in his company every week, because he would hold a weekly news conference. He’s someone who has gone to the very top of football, won everything there is to win. And then you’re in a room with him and maybe three others every week for a good half an hour. He’s a very impressive person to be around and spend time with. Just listening to his stories; obviously the longer he was there – ended up being for well over a year – the more he opened up.

And when I first started at AFC Bournemouth, Eddie Howe was coming through then. You could tell straight away that he was going to do well – he was still pretty young then. He’s always been a really impressive person to interview. This is when I was working match days – again, me and one other person; obviously the club has grown massively since then.

WOULD YOU EVER LIKE TO TACKLE SPORT IN OTHER MEDIA, SUCH AS RADIO OR TV?

Branching out is always something you have to think about. Even since I started at The Wokingham Paper back in 2015, the job changes so much year-on-year. After about a year-and-a-bit, I started doing podcasts, the odd video bit too. When I first started working there, doing radio or video wasn’t even on my radar. Now, everyone wants multimedia – they want to watch little videos or listen on the go. All the jobs require multimedia skills these days.

The podcasts are closer to radio; with TV you need a different skillset, I think. I wouldn’t rule anything out in the long term, but I think I would prefer radio and commentary to TV. Personally, I think my skillset is better suited to print and writing than being in front of a camera. That’s why I try to stick to writing, but like I say, in five years’ time the job could be completely different!

WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU AS A JOURNALIST?

This is something that changes quite regularly. I’m an Arsenal supporter, so when I first started, the dream was just to report on or work with Arsenal in some way. But as time goes on, priorities change. They say the work is up in London, but equally I very much enjoy living in the Poole and Bournemouth area. If I can carry on freelancing and make a decent living down here, I will. I met someone recently who used to live here who told me, “You shouldn’t leave Bournemouth unless you have to.” That’s something that’s stuck with me. And it’s doing all right for me so far – I’m working full-time. Commuting a couple of times a week, but most of it’s from home.

The longer-term goal? To carry on working as a sport journalist, and in football, hopefully. Maybe make it back to AFC Bournemouth one day. The Bournemouth Echo are still a pretty strong paper; I certainly wouldn’t turn down any opportunities from there if they come up. It’s going okay so far, and long may it continue!

Want to keep up with Tom’s news and views? Visit and like his Facebook page here or follow him on Twitter.

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Hannah Elkins, Musician

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Musician Hannah Elkins
Photo courtesy of Hannah Elkins

Ahead of releasing her first single, we had a chat with musician Hannah Elkins. Where did her journey in music begin and what are her hopes for the future?

Dividing her time between the hustle-and-bustle of London and the Bournemouth music scene, we were lucky to have a few words with musician and singer Hannah Elkins. As she goes to release her first single, it seemed like a good time to hear about her beginnings in music…

ARE YOU FROM THE BOURNEMOUTH AREA?

Yeah – I grew up in Bournemouth. I studied at Leeds University, and then came back to Bournemouth, before moving to London last summer. But most of my life has been spent in the area.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DECIDE THAT MUSIC WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?

My mum is a singer herself. She’s very musical and runs a choir in Bournemouth. So, in a way, I had no choice. I grew up singing and it was just what I knew to do. But it was really at secondary school that I realised that it was what I wanted to do for a career, and what I went to study at university.

DO YOU MODEL YOUR STYLE ON ANY ARTISTS IN PARTICULAR?

My favourite artist is Lianne La Havas. She has very delicate, beautiful vocals, with quite hard guitar sounds. For me, it was the first time I had heard that kind of contrast in music, which I fell in love with. Another one is Jessie Ware. I just found out that she was classically trained, and I studied classical singing at university. I think that’s why I love her stuff so much – you can hear she’s just got this amazing voice in there. She’s a huge inspiration to me.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FIRST GIG…

I started writing my own music probably quite late in comparison to others. A lot of them, you hear they started writing when they were 12. For me, that didn’t happen until I went to university. Because I studied classical singing, and then I went for a year abroad in the Netherlands to learn to play piano. And it really changed my perspective of music and how I wanted to approach it.

So I started sitting at the piano and writing my own stuff. And then when I went back for my final year at Leeds, I just thought, “I’ve got to do this!” Took a lot of courage, but I booked my first gig at Hyde Park Book Club. Lovely little intimate venue – it was actually quite terrifying because it was so intimate. We had about 70 people in this room. I just rocked up with my notepad (with my lyrics on it) in one hand and my little keyboard and sat in front of these people, who were the most attentive audience I’ve ever had. And that was it – I was hooked.

NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING FIRST SINGLE…

It’s called After the Midnight. I don’t have a set writing method with any of my music. Normally, I’ll find this idea, work around it and build the song, but with this one, I had just a chorus – two lines and two chords that I knew I loved. Had no idea where I was going with it. Even when I stepped into the studio, I didn’t have the song in full! Bit risky, I know, but I like a challenge. I don’t know if I’d recommend it…

So, I worked with my friends Elliot Wenman, who plays guitar, and Niko Battistini, who is a Bournemouth-based producer. With those two, I created this song.

When I started writing this, I had started a different mind state of how I wanted to write. So, it was included in a couple of other songs I had written. There was the theme of this midnight, the stars, the universe; it just fit into this collection that I was working on at the time.

WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO LAUNCH YOUR SINGLE SPECIFICALLY IN BOURNEMOUTH?

I am really excited to come back and do the launch here. That’s because After the Midnight has been a collaboration with a lot of Bournemouth musicians and artists. The artwork was done by a girl called Amy Leonard, who is studying at the Arts University. She’s done some brilliant artwork for me. Plus the photography has been done by Alice Parmenter, who’s also Bournemouth-based. And then, as I mentioned earlier, the production from Niko. There’s such talent in Bournemouth, and that’s where this single has come from.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THE BOURNEMOUTH MUSIC SCENE?

In Bournemouth, there is this real market of music-lovers. There is something called Sofar Sounds, which is run in Bournemouth. I performed for them a couple of years ago, and then I volunteered for their team afterwards. It’s a brilliant event where they basically get three acts and take them to an intimate venue. Audiences can apply for tickets, and they don’t know where the venue will be or what the lineup is until they’re emailed a few days before. They tell you at the beginning of the gig that they want you to pay attention to the artists and give them that respect, which I think can be lost in some of the bigger venues. London, for example, can be slightly saturated.

WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU AS A MUSICIAN

Ultimately, it’s to write music that people can relate to and want to listen to. As long as there’s someone there who is listening and says that they like it — that’s the dream, really.

Read more amazing and inspiring stories from the talent of Bournemouth in our Humans section. And find out more about Hannah on her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

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Stephanie Wyatt, Miss Earth 2019

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Learn more about Stephanie Wyatt, 19, from Dorset, as she has been crowned the new Miss Earth 2019…

At the end of last month, Stephanie Wyatt was crowned Miss Earth England 2019 at the Arden Hotel in Birmingham, sponsored by Millennium Balti in Leamington Spa. She got in touch with Humans of Bournemouth with full details on her story and what it’s like to be “Miss Earth.”

WHAT ARE YOUR DUTIES AS MISS EARTH?

As Miss Earth, I will be representing England on an international platform of millions of people around the world. Since I have also been rewarded with the title of ‘Beauties of a Cause Eco-Ambassador’ for my accomplishments, my duties include working with environmental, eco-activities and other social causes.

WHAT’S YOUR ADVOCACY?

My main aim is to advocate the preservation and restoration of Mother Earth. From a young age, I remember being exposed to the harsh reality around me and knew I had to make a change. When I found out that I could make a difference, I knew I had to carry on doing what I was doing.

DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS A STIGMA ON PAGEANTS?

Despite the stigmas, Miss Earth is different to your everyday beauty pageant. It is an environmentally-focused competition. A platform for change. For example, one of our challenges that was judged was to create an “eco-warrior” outfit. I decided to make mine completely out of real flowers. I believe that we are sending out a message here, showing the public that we all have a responsibility to preserve and attend to what the world we live in needs. Which fights against any stigmas.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING TO THE MISS EARTH FINAL?

I am extremely honoured to be put in the position to attend the final. Which is the third-most prestigious platform in the world to represent England. I’m also privileged to meet so many like-minded women. I’d like to thank the Miss Earth England organisation and I hope that I will do my country proud. This really is a dream come true for me.

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER PROJECTS BESIDES FROM MISS EARTH?

I want to be socially and environmentally responsible for our earth. That’s why I created my own project in 2017. I investigated how I could tackle the world’s second-largest polluting industry, which is clothing. I thought of several ways to reduce this problem and also need those in need at the same time. That’s why I decided to aid those whom are struggle with period poverty. My first steps to making a difference were deciding to set up workshops at my local library, where the public could donate their unwanted clothes. Once generous individuals had donated, I was then able to up-cycle them into re-usable sanitary wear for girls in Kenya. This can make a big transformation on a girl’s life in Kenya since they can go to school now in comfort and not have to worry about their period getting in the way of their education.

WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO DURING YOUR REIGN AS MISS EARTH?

I hope to set up a lot more like-minded projects, similar to what I have done before. I’m particularly interested in helping Third World countries; they are one of the main reasons why I put my heart and soul into the work I do.

Find out more about the Miss Earth pageant on their Facebook page. And for more inspiring stories about the locals of Bournemouth, Poole and surrounding areas, check out our Humans section.

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Jack Lenton, Personal Trainer

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Personal Trainer Jack Lenton

Meet Jack Lenton. His lifestyle is his career. As a personal trainer, he owns his own business and is able to train clients worldwide.

Learn more about how he decided to become a personal trainer and how his passion for fitness began. Jack also desires to help others develop their own career in the fitness industry…

ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM BOURNEMOUTH?

No, I grew up in the south of Somerset. Then I decided to go to Exeter University, so I lived there for a while. After that I lived in America for 18 months. I’ve lived in Bournemouth for the past year. My girlfriend lived here, so it made sense for me to move here with her.

WHAT DOES YOUR PROFESSION INVOLVE?

My day-to-day job is mainly online coaching and training. I also employ people to help with my business and coaching — I love being able to give people the chance to do what they love as a job. We mainly coach one-to-one sessions, giving the clients personal advice on themselves and how their body works and what suits them. Nevertheless, we also coach in groups as well; they don’t tend to be any more than 40 people. An individual’s ability determines what group they are put in. As a group, they will be supported as much as possibly needed.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO FITNESS?

Fitness was the only thing that kept my attention; I didn’t really enjoy school. All my efforts went into fitness and sports instead of education. Therefore, when choosing a university course, exercising science caught my eye. It was the only course that for fulfilled my desires at the time.

WERE YOU INTO SPORTS AT SCHOOL?

Of course! It wasn’t weightlifting or strength training — I was too young for any of that. I tended to play more standard sports such as football, basketball and I tried a bit of trampolining. As a kid, just being active was my priority. Fitness has always been a key aspect of my life.

WOULD YOU SAY YOU LIVE A STRICT LIFESTYLE IN TERMS OF FITNESS?

I have made my fitness lifestyle strict because that is the how I prefer it. My mental and physical health has improved by working out daily. Although it never limits me in terms of my lifestyle, since I enjoy it so much, it’s more of a hobby than a chore.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU TO START SEEING RESULTS ON YOUR OWN BODY?

I was looking at photos of myself the other day. From when I was about a year into my training and my body was so different. It took me about two years to see a massive progress. For a long while, I wasn’t very sure on what worked on my body type in terms on fitness wise. I found that, I noticed what I was doing wrong before finding what I was doing right. Over the years, I’ve increased how much I train. Before fitness and training was part of my daily routine, I was working out about five times a week. My personality is quite addictive, so that certainly helped keep myself on track.

IS SOCIAL MEDIA IMPORTANT TOWARDS YOUR CAREER AS A PERSONAL TRAINER?

Social media makes a significant impact on my career since it allows me to coach worldwide. My personal trainer career is no longer restricted to local people; because of social media, anyone can reach out to me. It also benefits me in terms of meeting like-minded individuals from anywhere and everywhere. Those who share the same passions as me and are part of the fitness community.

WHAT IS YOUR END GOAL?

Right now, I hope to carry on what I’m doing and making money from it. I also hope to keep employing more and more people for my business. This means I can help them gain experience and earn money from doing something they love as a career, just like me.

Don’t forget to check out Jack’s Instagram and website to learn more about his coaching!

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