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Meet Our Team

Beth Hooper

Project Manager

As HMS Leigh’s Project Manager, I have loved learning about the forgotten history of Southend Pier.  During WW2, my grandparents lived in Westcliff; my grandfather was an Air Raid Warden, and my grandmother was a Land Girl. My father at the grand old age of 6, was evacuated to Derbyshire and wasn’t to see his family for the next 3 years.    It has been an absolute joy to meet so many people in Southend and the wider community who have generously shared stories, time and resources.  I am also the Creative Director for Blade Education and I love working within communities to support effective partnerships and unusual alliances.

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Alastair Deacon

Project Officer

I’m HMS Leigh’s Project Officer, and as well as keeping everyone on track, I have really enjoyed working with all the original photographs, artefacts and archive footage that have been generously given to us. I am very proud of the work the team are doing on the HMS Leigh legacy database.  I was a freelance press photographer before joining BBC Radio News where I learnt to edit with a razor blade and sticky tape, as well as shoot news footage.  As Blade Education’s Technical Director, I’ve been responsible for building a national multi-lingual media platform for schools, as well as making sure that we respectfully collect people’s World War 2 memories for the future.

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Ali Ward

Lead Artist 

I graduated from St Martins School of Art in 1990 and has worked as an illustrator and  costume accessories maker. In my own work I uses textiles, wood and print. I created and run the Art Stories Project at Kingsdown Special School, which makes art accessible to children with a wide range of needs. I truly believe that anyone can make art and I have a passion for inclusion and community art. I have been working with Blade Education on their projects for a while and am really excited to take part in this HMS Leigh event.


Michael Deacon

Project Assistant

Being the HMS Leigh Project Assistant is an excellent opportunity to use my training to explore how performance can connect audiences to the legacy that past events offer.  Working with researchers, archivists, volunteers and contributors, learning about what life was like during WW2 in order to create a unique performance experience on a remarkable structure that is over a mile long into the sea has been a real challenge.  Using my training as a director to support a team of both professional actors and volunteers to turn this into a unique experience to tell this largely unknown history is a real adventure – come along in September to see the results!    
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