Meet our Writers

Patricia Barnett

Andrew Bell

Andrew has had pieces of non-fiction published, covering a wide range of topics, including philosophy, law and political economy, in various journals and publications, since he left uni in the late sixties.

He has enjoyed writing poetry and other creative work for over 15 years, and self-published a small poetry collection in 2013.

Sarah Bowden

Pete Brammer

Pete is a member of both Retford and Bassetlaw writers. This year he won the Bassetlaw Writers short story competition with his entry ‘Secured with a yellow thread’. Pete has been writing poetry from an early age but has only pursued short story writing in more recent years.

Pete wrote for American singer, Gene Pitney and even appeared on stage with him in Barnsley during his UK tour.  Many famous individuals have recorded his poems, including; Sir Jeffery Archer, Arthur Scargill, Bob Wilson, Nick Berry, David Blunkett and the late Donald Pleasance, Roy Castle, Bobby Knutt and Bill Waddington (who appeared on Coronation Street as Percy Sugden).

Pete has so far completed over 120 poetry books; 15 short story books and 2 collections of limericks. He is particularly proud of raising some £4m for charity with just one of his poems.

He recently acquired the grave of the legendary local tramps, Ned & Flo and gives talks to organisations such as the WI about them as well as reciting his work. Although he does not charge for these events he welcomes donations towards the upkeep of the plot.

Pete is known locally as ‘The Shireoaks Bard.’

David Graham

 David was born in Bicester, Oxfordshire, but grew up in Dublin, Essex and various other towns. As the third eldest of a family of five boys and four girls David often made up complex stories for his siblings to help them get off to sleep.

At eighteen David joined the [British] army where he served in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, and Germany; and was a guard dog handler. 

Leaving the army at twenty-two, David secured a live-in job at Chessington Zoo working with the larger animals, and particularly enjoyed the macho thrill of working with the big cats and continued this work later at Windsor Safari Park.

David moved to Retford in 2000 where he attended Mattersey Bible College, and gained a BA in Theology. After this achievement he suffered a period of ill health and took to writing to pass the time. He also worked on a board game based on John Bunyan’s, Pilgrim’s Progress.

Following a further house move, this time to Ranskill, he resurrected a story he had begun working on some years previously called ‘Paddy Doran’s Box’, which David describes as ‘a bit of Irish blarney about the mysterious spread of gold coins, and the various madcap characters and situations it creates’.  Prompted by this new venture, and, in an effort to improve his writing, he joined the newly formed Retford Writers Group, and subsequently the Bassetlaw Writers Group.

Since joining, he has continued to work on his novel, and has also surprised himself by turning his hand to both short stories and poetry, some of which are posted on this site. Two of the short stories have won first prizes in writing competitions.

David enjoys reading, walking, and is a regular at the local gym. His top writing tip, and personal motto is: ‘Never throw away anything you write. Even if it never sees the light of day.’

Michael Healy

Michael is a qualified Chemist and spent most of his career at Nottingham University. About ten years ago he was diagnosed with three brain tumours – end of career. Following operations he wanted to use his brain and took to writing poetry. Retford Writers Group has been most helpful.

Rachel Hilton

John Holmes

After trying various jobs, John settled on a career in insurance claims adjusting, principally with Lloyd’s of London, which gave him valuable insights into human nature, as well as an awareness of the vulnerability and unpredictability of supposedly safe, ordinary daily life. 

In 2007, John graduated with the Open University, obtaining a degree (2:1) in Social Sciences with special reference to Psychology.

He has had various poems published, most recently in Peeking Cat magazine.

John co-wrote, with his father, William Holmes, a well-respected non-fiction book When The War Is Over on Dunkirk and the German P.O.W. camps in World War Two. 

Two novels: A Small Indiscretion, and That Someone Else Is You, were published under pen-names and are long out-of-print.  John has also written a book of short stories: We Never Just Talk.

The novel Legacy And A Gun was published in May 2019.  It concerns an exiled politician living under the constant threat of imported violence and tormented by an obsession with legacy – his own and that of his ancestors.  The novel is available in both kindle and paperback.  Quoted passages from it can be found on Twitter under John Holmes @NewickPea.

Limi Jones

Dee Johnson

Michael Keeble

Many years ago Michael entertained folk with rhymes. Though he could never in all honesty call himself a poet, in those days it seemed an amusing way to tell a tale. Michael still occasionally writes stories in rhyme for effect, but since joining the writing group has realised that he is primarily a storyteller and rhymes are not necessary to tell a good story.

Kaye Locke

Kaye has been writing short stories and poetry for many years. Having passed a BA in Creative Writing some six years ago and interested in honing her technique as well as learning some new skills, she is currently studying for an MA in the same subject with the Open University, concentrating on her main love, poetry. Kaye has a blog ( where she publishes some of her writing, as well as photography, art and general ramblings.

Kevin Murphy

Kevin started as an aspiring writer in 2011. Initially he attended several writers’ workshops at the library. After complaining that they were only around twice yearly, he was invited to lead the group. So following retirement in 2011 he founded the Retford Writers’ Group, and this website.

After work experiences as a Friar, Demolition Man, Barman, English Teacher and Youth Worker he had collected many stories – and concerns.
So, in his writing he likes to tackle issues that concern him, and perhaps retell those stories. His first book ‘Apple’ is based on the debates around Weapons of Mass Destruction. This fantasy novel enabled Kevin to explore first hand the new and exciting world of self publishing for Kindle.

In ‘Barred? Who guards the Guardians?’ he covered the safeguarding children system and his 2018 social history novel ‘Convicted for Courage – Imprisoned in Britain’ was based around interviews he conducted in 1989 with ex prisoners of war. Both books are available in paperback and kindle edition

During 2018 he also steered Retford Writers’ Group to the publication of the Anthology ‘All the Write Pieces’.

He writes as Kevan Pooler and has a dedicated website

Angela O’Connor

Angela O’Connor has been writing poetry and prose for three decades and performing as a spoken word poet for the last 3 years. Born in Northern Ireland, raised in Australia she is now based in North Nottinghamshire. Angela garners inspiration for her writing from the world around us. How we, as humans relate to each other and our surrounds. She has been published in anthologies – Beyond Rubies, The Write Stuff, collections North Nottinghamshire Short Stories 2018 and magazines-Esoterica.

Barrie Purnell

Barrie was born in Gloucestershire in 1941 and only started writing seriously when he joined Retford Writers Group in 2015. His writing consists mainly of poetry in its various forms. He published his first book, “Poetry of love, Life and Loss”, in 2019 which is now available on Amazon.

Chris South

Kerry Swarbrick

Kerry writes simply to satisfy the need to create something. She gardens and composes photo stories for much the same reason and all three have recently converged in a personal blog (Dandelion Sleeves) about the making of her own garden. Poetry, journaling and creative non-fiction are the genres Kerry is most naturally drawn to writing but she enjoys reading philosophical novels and some of her favourite poets are song writers. If Kerry were to choose a single ‘desert island’ book to reread over and over it would be Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder.