Ros Tennyson as a young girlI am grateful to my parents for the gift of being ‘mixed race’. My mother was a Jewish refugee from Germany who fled to the UK in 1939 at the tender age of 16 and never saw her parents (wealthy business people prior to Nazi persecution and the confiscation of all their possessions) again. My father’s father was a grandson of the great Victorian poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. My father’s mother was a refugee of somewhat shady origins (possibly, Hungarian) – a feisty woman (do these things run in the family?) who, rumour has it, was much admired by both Lloyd George and Bertrand Russell and who was the first General Secretary of the Free Trade Union.

It was wonderful to grow up in the atmosphere of my parent’s strong sense of social concern and social justice – they had spent two years in India before I was born and continued to be inspired by Gandhi, Tagore and the Upanishads for the rest of their lives. They always supported and encouraged my early enthusiasms (of which there were many) whether of an artistic or animal rescue or social change nature.

Tennyson Family Archive PhotoAnother formative influence was the fact that our family shared a large house with another family for 5 years where the children grew up together and the parents were able to cover for each other when one or other was away or indisposed. Apart from the value of feeling part of an extended family, the experience set in motion a deep interest in communities and community living that has remained with me ever since.

Building on my early passion for all things cultural (literature, music, art, theatre) and a natural inclination (sometimes closer to dogged determination) to create new ways of doing things whenever the conventional approach seemed seriously inadequate, I have forged a rather zigzag path in terms of what others might consider ‘my career’.

Having done poorly in my ‘A’ level exams at school (I believe my results were the worst in my year!), I went to drama school rather than university. I thrived at drama school and after my somewhat humiliating school experience, was surprised (and, of course, delighted) to find myself top of the class in a whole heap of subjects including phonetics! Drama school has undoubtedly influenced the way I do things – helping deepen my powers of observation, sense of transformational potential and capacity to ‘get inside the skin’ of different points of view – See MENTORING & TRAINING

After leaving drama school I spent many years doing a number of different things including:

  • Running a play scheme for kids in a park in Kilburn
  • Working in a range of community development projects;
  • Running a cutting edge programme for young offenders;
  • Teaching drama and theatre studies;
  • Directing children’s operas
  • Performing a one-woman show – A Victorian Evening (in USA & UK)
  • Setting up internships for American undergraduates in Parliament, the health service, arts administration and with a range of other organisations;
  • Starting a self-help food co-op for people in short-life housing (cooking with date-stamped food donated by the big supermarkets);
  • Teaching T’ai Chi Ch’uan – a meditative movement based on the principles of Taoism
  • Helping to create a housing co-operative designed to create more integrated housing arrangements for people who had been in long-term institutional care;
  • Working with architects and urban planners to create participatory approaches to building new communities (in UK & Russia);
  • Becoming CEO of a holistic health charity integrating complementary and mainstream medicine into a primary health care facility.

For a more sanitised and ‘grown up’ CV go to my curriculum vitae


TrigonosSomehow in the past 20 years I have managed (though sometimes only just) to maintain and build my range of other interests. The most important one of which is Trigonos. I am hugely proud to have been a co-founder of this social initiative in a former slate mining region in Snowdonia, North Wales. I have only been a small part of its remarkable growth and quiet achievements over the past 21 years but being involved in it (I live nearby) feels like coming full circle to my parents experiences in India and to their early experiments in community living – see SOCIAL INNOVATOR.

Other interests include: Reading (voraciously), Music (mostly but not exclusively classical), Writing (still a heap of short stories waiting to hit the page), Dabbling in art activities (now, a bit more seriously, pottery), Exploring more philosophical / spiritual things since I refuse to believe that there is not a deeper meaning to our lives even if it is sometimes obscured and / or elusive.

Above all, I do try to spend as much time as possible with my lovely family – immediate and extended – and friends about all of whom I propose to remain completely silent!