Writing

MY WORK AS A FREELANCE WRITER

I specialise in opening up subjects for a general audience, creating content for websites, books and exhibitions – mostly for clients in the heritage and cultural sectors. This work relies on the ability to quickly unlock interest in different kinds of source material, and finding accessible ways to bring particular stories or information to life. Whatever the project, I focus on producing creative, well-written content that clearly fulfils a set of strategic objectives.

As a writer who also works as an editor, I can offer an ‘all round’ service: not only a magpie’s stash of ideas and expert writing skills but also a meticulous commitment to clarity and a well-honed instinct for how best to structure and present information. Having worked on and often managed book projects and website builds (including leading on site structure), I am also able to effectively dovetail what I do with the work of designers and developers. Past experience as a picture researcher and a longstanding interest in the visual arts (photography in particular) means I am also confident in working with a combination of images and words. I enjoy being a part of teams of different sizes, and as a freelancer am always mindful of the importance of being friendly, flexible and sensitive to different agendas.

More recent writing projects

For Storythings, Brighton

Storythings is an agency that uses clear-eyed strategy, creative thinking and rigorous audience research to drive the production of digital content worth spending time with. They recently commissioned me to work on a project for the Royal Armouries, an affiliate museum responsible for the UK’s national collection of arms and armour. As part of building a new website, the Royal Armouries asked Storythings to come up with a set of engaging, text-based feature formats aimed at appealing to new online audiences. Working as the team’s writer, I was given the freedom to create different ways for site users to engage with subjects as diverse as Tudor armour, the Tower of London’s resident photographer and a 14th-century fencing manual.

Ally is not only a great writer but also has an inherent understanding of what will spark curiosity in audiences. We couldn’t have produced the excellent results we did if it wasn’t for her contribution. She is not only warm, insightful and considered but also flexible and speedy. We couldn’t recommend her highly enough.

Emily Bromfield, Head of Production, Storythings

For Nesta, London

I have recently been accepted as an approved provider of writing and editing services to Nesta, the UK’s innovation agency for social good. Working in three strategic areas – early years education, public health and sustainable energy – Nesta aims to create better solutions to the systemic problems that prevent meaningful change in communities across the UK.

For Aldeburgh Museum, Suffolk

I was commissioned to help deliver the content element of new displays developed as part of the £745K Lottery-funded remodelling of Aldeburgh Museum (based at the Moot Hall, a Grade I-listed Tudor building on the town’s seafront). The job focused on taking content about the town and local area produced by a team of volunteers, and reworking it to better fit the project’s vision of a ‘modern and progressive’ exhibition space. I was also tasked with broadening the museum’s appeal in line with the Heritage Lottery Fund’s style and accessibility criteria.

Ally was a great help in moving our project forward, providing a framework that allowed us to tell numerous stories using a very restricted word count. Starting with raw text from volunteer curators she developed a consistent and accessible narrative that works across the museum’s new displays.

Julian Ayre, Project Lead, Aldeburgh Museum Redevelopment Project

For the V&A, London

I was one of a small team of freelance writers commissioned by the Digital Media team at the Victoria & Albert Museum to create content for a new version of the institution’s website. Based on a features-driven structure, the site is designed to widen the reach of the V&A as one of the world’s leading sources of information on design, and to give greater public exposure to its impressive holdings (the majority of which are rarely on display). Over the course of an 18-month contract, I researched, chose topics for and wrote the content of a series of standalone site sections, creating features that cover subjects as diverse as the paper-dress fad of the 1960s, the prison embroideries of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Arts & Crafts pattern design. 
See site page on Vivienne Westwood
See site page on William Morris
See site page on paper dresses

Ally showed enormous enthusiasm for every subject we threw at her, thoroughly digging into the V&A’s collections to create accessibly written and engaging content that’s now performing well on the museum’s site.

Joanna Jones, Senior Content Editor, Digital Media team at the V&A, London

For Norfolk Coast Partnership, Norfolk

Norfolk Coast Partnership (NCP) is the publicly funded body that manages development and conservation projects in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB), on behalf of four local authorities. Although the NCP felt their new Management Plan just needed refreshing, I encouraged them to seize the opportunity to create a more emphatic statement about the important work the organisation does. Mindful of the plan’s public as well as internal audience, I worked closely with NCP staff to distil and entirely rework the existing document, with creative design by Norwich’s Special Design Studio and a series of specially shot images of the AONB by photographer Liam Bailey.
See a summary of the project

For the Natural History Museum, London

Although it’s one of the world’s most famous institutions, London’s Natural History Museum still relies heavily on public donations. The museum’s Legacy department asked me to produce brochure copy persuasive enough to motivate its readers to commit to doing something that they wouldn’t live to see the impact of: leaving a gift of money to the museum in their will.
See brochure

For Norfolk Schools of Sanctuary, Norwich

Created by Norfolk Schools of Sanctuary, Norfolk Welcomes is an annual educational initiative designed to offer children ways into understanding the international refugee crisis. The project focuses on helping pupils in Norfolk schools to explore local histories of migration and sanctuary in specially designed teaching sessions. My role initially involved researching and producing a teacher’s guide to the story of the people who came to Norwich from the Low Countries in the mid-16th century: the ‘Strangers’. I also contributed to workshops designed to equip teachers with building blocks for a set of lesson and assembly plans, and delivered my own presentation – ‘Seven Interesting Things About The Strangers’ – to Year 4s in a Norwich junior school. More recently, I wrote an educational toolkit that enables teachers across the UK to stage a ‘Day of Welcome’ in their school.
See the toolkit

Presented in a concise and accessible manner, Ally’s research on the Strangers was very thorough, and proved she’s adept at identifying material of interest. Ally’s skills, ideas and expertise have also contributed significantly to the success of the Norfolk Welcomes initiative overall.

Jake Rose-Brown, Project Lead, Norfolk Welcomes

For East Coast College, Great Yarmouth

One of East Anglia’s leading Further Education colleges, East Coast College needed a set of print to better promote the different ways in which it collaborates with local companies. I worked hard to untangle the details of work-based training and other aspects of the college’s broad offer to business, structuring clear, easy-to-digest messages that fitted Special Design Studio‘s bold new branding scheme for the Apprenticeships and Training department.

Notable past writing projects

– I was commissioned by Dewi Lewis (the UK’s leading independent photography publisher) to write an introduction to the photography book Forever England. Liam Bailey’s portraits offer compellingly uncanny access into the world of the inches-high inhabitants of Bekonscot in Buckinghamshire, the world’s oldest model village. 
Read my introduction

Ally’s introduction to ‘Forever England’ has real energy, and achieves exactly the balance we were looking for. It provides a perceptive context within which to read the imagery, while ensuring that the issues raised, though often complex, are communicated in a way that is accessible to a broad audience.

Dewi Lewis, Director, Dewi Lewis Publishing

– Designed to encourage public interest in British cultural history, Icons Online was a site commissioned from digital media agency Cogapp by the Department of Culture, Media & Sport. I researched and wrote site content on a long list of ‘iconic British symbols’ that included the bowler hat, the V-sign and fish and chips.

Ally excelled at not only delivering copy that was impeccably well written and well thought through, but at finding interesting ways into a diverse range of subjects. The imagination that went into her suggestions for feature articles allowed her to explore sometimes workaday subjects in surprising and thought-provoking ways, and always in writing that combines confident authority with a lovely lightness of touch.

Daniel Hahn, Editorial Director, Icons Online

– For a number of years, I worked with the Design Products department of The Royal College of Art in London, helping both staff and students improve the way that their work was presented, both in print and online.

– I worked with Alan Dein (BBC broadcaster and creator of the brilliant interview show Don’t Log Off) as a volunteer interviewer on Kings Cross Voices, an archive of people’s memories of living or working in a fast-changing area of north London. My most engaging interviewee was Violet, an octogenarian who talked about how much she’d enjoyed working with her sister in a broom factory in Holloway – a job she had done for nearly 30 years. 

– I researched and wrote texts for an interactive installed as part of ‘Taking Liberties’, an exhibition at the British Library that explored civil rights; topics included press censorship, devolution and Stop and Search.

– I commissioned, wrote and edited content for a series of genre-defying books on art, architecture and critical theory for UK arts publisher August Media. Subjects included the life of cities at different physical heights above the ground (City Levels), notions of value as defined by both museums and department stores (The Value of Things), and different artists’ explorations of the concept of absence (Nothing).