Historian has Storey to tell north Norfolk school children

Historian and author Neil Storey. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Historian and author Neil Storey. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

With his handlebar moustache and array of WW1 uniforms, Neil Storey has cut an imposing figure at living history events all over the country.

And as a consultant to TV, radio and film documentaries and dramas, and the author of more than 40 books on subjects ranging from Jack the Ripper, to the Battle of Britain, his own history has been just as fascinating as the lives of the characters he plays.

Brought up by his mother and grandparents, former North Walsham High School head boy Mr Storey, 43, caught the history bug as a youngster.

Fiercely proud of his Norfolk roots – he can trace his family's county connections back centuries – he began recording his research at a young age and published his first local history book at the age of just 16.

After studying social history at the University of East Anglia, Mr Storey went on to carve an eclectic career which has seen him help bring history to life for countless youngsters and adults by playing characters ranging from a Tudor apothecary and an Edwardian escapologist, to an 18th century surgeon and a WW2 padre.

He has published 40 books with titles ranging from Norfolk Floods and Norfolk in the Great War, to Hanged at Norwich and Prisons and Prisoners in Victorian Britain, also penning a pocket-sized 'Little Book' series and a Grim Almanac series charting gruesome goings-on in the history of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and London.

However, although his writing has covered a wide area of the UK, Mr Storey is always drawn back to his home county.

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'It's the people, their character,' he said. 'I have travelled to many beautiful places, but I am truly proud to be a born and bred Norfolk man.'

As well as appearing at countless re-enactment and history and educational events, Mr Storey has lectured on the social impact of war, crime and natural disasters at colleges and universities all over the country.

His latest project has seen him work with the Forum, Norwich, on Norfolk in the First World War: Somme to Armistice, a National Lottery-funded school outreach scheme commemorating the 100th anniversary of WW1.

The three-year, £90,000 project, which aims to honour the county's WW1 heroes with a series of events and activities involving primary and secondary schools from Norwich to Great Yarmouth, has seen Mr Storey work with youngsters on researching the backgrounds of the men listed on their local war memorials.

'It is about ordinary people doing incredible things in the most extraordinary circumstances, and the idea is to bring their stories to life for a new generation,' he explained.

'There are some incredibly powerful stories, with brothers joining up together, going into action together and being killed on the same day and I think the project has really helped illustrate that this still has resonance today.'

With more books in the pipeline, and a plan to run a simliar project in other areas, Mr Storey insists he is in no danger of running out of ideas.

'There are threads of history in everything I do, it's inexhaustible and I never tire of it,' he said.

Do you know someone worthy of a special feature in our Originals series? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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