All about Gordon Swindlehurst
As what's called a "senior broadcast journalist", I'm lucky enough to have played a leading role in reporting some of our biggest stories of the last 15 years, in producing longer feature programmes about farming, Christmas in the countryside, foot and mouth and the floods AND in presenting the BBC Radio Cumbria Breakfast Show for three years.
What's the most exciting/biggest news story you've ever covered?
Foot and mouth has been the most challenging and intense news story of my career, but the floods of January, 2005 were definitely the hairiest. Getting the call to go to Appleby at 4 in the morning meant a windy passage down the M6 - all the lorries had blown over - and a wet one down the A66, as first 4x4 through the flooding. I can honestly say I've never been so frightened in my life!
But it's the daft stories that I've enjoyed most - the story of the Dufton fire cart, the farmer who trained his sheepdogs with ducks and the Brampton chastity belt among them.
Which famous/well-known people have you spoken to during your career?
I've been collecting ministers of agriculture for 20 years, now, and have also interviewed Tony Blair and other senior politicians, leading lights in rugby and cricket, TV personalities, poets and, particularly, naturalists. The job's taken me to Tanzania, the US embassy and Buckingham Palace, and brought me into contact with high-profile people like Mark Radcliffe and Jeremy Paxman, as well as personal heroes like Sir David Attenbrough.
On air, I've interviewed the likes of Lenny Henry, Michael Palin, a Dimbleby or two, Joanna Lumley, Shane Warne. You get the idea.
But I'll be honest and say the ones I've enjoyed meeting most are the no-frills, down-to-earth folk of rural Britain - particularly, of course, Cumbria. Those who tell it like it is and especially those who ring, write and text to you while you're on air with their comments and occasionally repeatable jokes.
How did you get into radio?
I was approached by a senior figure at BBC Radio Cumbria while working as a sub-editor in local newspapers - had I ever thought of moving into radio, he asked. Now, I feel like part of the furniture…..an overstuffed old Chesterfield, perhaps. That'll learn him!
What other jobs have you done besides broadcasting?
My first job after leaving school was as an assistant greenkeeper on a golf course - raking 93 bunkers a day for a summer certainly gave me an appetite - then I moved on to work as a public library assistant. I loved it... libraries are wonderful places to work, and a lot of fun. After spells as a builder's labourer and bar manager, I finally moved into journalism full-time in 1986. Since then it's been "hack, hack" all the way, save for a few months teaching English as a foreign language to adults in Mexico City...
What are your local connections?
Although my family dates back at least 900 years in North Lancashire, there are Cumbrian connections. One ancestor built St Bees lighthouse, another worked below stairs at Lowther Castle, another opened the batting for Cumberland and Westmorland and yet another was master of the otterhounds in South Westmorland a century and a bit ago. And as the Lancastrians have long since refused to pay the ransom, it looks like it's Cumbria for me…..