Homage to Heritage

Over the past couple of years, we have shared stories in collaboration with The Windrush Generation Legacy Association (WGLA), a charitable organisation headed up by our very own Deborah Klass. The WGLA puts on exhibitions, seminars, and events at its home at the Whitgift Centre in Croydon, London, to celebrate the contributions of over three Caribbean generations to British society. To mark Windrush Day 2021, we shared a Q&A between  Deborah and her mother, Joan Andall – a retired NHS nurse – detailing her experience of emigrating to the UK from Grenada in this piece. This year we also shared the story of married couple Daphney and John Bertrand and their arrival in the UK from Grenada, told by their son Julian here.

Earlier this month, we did some pro-bono copywriting for WGLA for an exhibition by the artist Zoe Sinclair, Homage to Heritage, to accompany her striking portraits of Black icons. As we come to the end of Black History Month, we’d like to share three of the portraits of icons from recent British history – including Baroness Amos, Claudia Jones and Sir Trevor McDonald – along with the biographies we produced for the exhibition. With thanks to the WGLA for giving us the permission to do so.

Zoe Sinclair was born and bred in South London, in her own words ‘a melting pot of diversity and culture’. Of mixed heritage – her father Jamaican and her mother Polish – Zoe was brought up with both cultures; enjoying the differences each parent’s cultures had to offer and the influences on her lived experiences. She cites the lack of relatable portrait artwork as part of her enthusiasm and motivation for creating these portraits. About Homage to Heritage, she says:

“I think it’s very important to have positive role models around to inspire, motivate and exemplify values and behaviour worthy of imitation. I created these limited edition prints featuring iconic heroes and heroines to celebrate them, the marks they’ve made on the world, and to inspire others to be bold in the pursuit of their dreams.

“The stunning African fabrics provide beautiful colour and pattern and pay homage to the heritage of these inspirational people. Each iconic muse has a circle crowning their head representing wholeness, totality, original perfection, the self, the infinite, eternity, God.”

Homage to Heritage is open until 16th December. You can also discover more about Zoe Sinclair’s work here.

 

Baroness Amos

Baroness Amos of Brondesbury (born 13 March 1954) was appointed a Labour life peer in 1997, making her the first black woman to serve as a Minister in the British cabinet and in the House of Lords. She has consistently sustained interest in, and a commitment to, development issues, equality and human rights.

The Baroness was an adviser to the Mandela Government on leadership and change management issues. Furthermore, she was Chief Executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission between 1989 and 1994. She has also held high office as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office between 2001 and 2003 and held the office of Secretary of State for International Development in 2003. After a further period in the Lords as a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Office, she became Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council between 2003 and 2007.

Baroness Amos served as UK High Commissioner to Australia before joining the UN in 2010 as Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Her work in the voluntary and charity sector and in other non-governmental organisations has gone hand in hand with her policy and political work. She has served as a Trustee for Voluntary Service Overseas, the Windsor Leadership Trust, Project Hope, and the Institute for Public Policy Research. She has also served as Deputy Chair of the Runnymede Trust.

Baroness Amos was awarded an Honorary Professorship at Thames Valley University in 1995 in recognition of her work on equality and social justice. On 1 July 2010, she received an honorary doctorate (Hon DUniv) from the University of Stirling in recognition of her “outstanding service to our society and her role as a model of leadership and success for women today.” She has also been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (Hon LLD) from the University of Warwick in 2000 and the University of Leicester in 2006.

 

Claudia Jones

Claudia Jones, born Claudia Vera Cumberbatch (21 February 1915 – 24 December 1964), was a feminist, political activist, visionary, and journalist. She founded Britain’s first major black newspaper, the West Indian Gazette, in 1958. Jones also played a central role in founding the Notting Hill Carnival.

As a young girl, she migrated from Trinidad and Tobago with her family to the US where she took the name Claudia Jones as a form of “self-protective disinformation”. Growing up she became a Communist political activist which later on led to her being deported from the US in 1955 following the political persecution of Communists in the US. From there she came to live in the UK where she was an active member of the Communist Party of Great Britain for the rest of her life, specifically fighting racism within the organisation.

Jones was also involved in the British African-Caribbean community where she helped organise both access to basic facilities, as well as the early movement for equal rights. She campaigned against racism in housing, education and employment. In the early 1960s, Jones helped organise movements against the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill which would make it harder for people of colour to migrate to Britain. She also campaigned for the release of Nelson Mandela.

Claudia Jones died at only 49 years of age due to a heart attack and tuberculosis. However, her political legacy still echoes today. The National Union of Journalists’ Black Members Council holds a prestigious Claudia Jones Memorial Lecture every October, during Black History Month, to honour Jones and celebrate her contribution to Black-British journalism. Yvette Thomas among others founded The Claudia Jones Organisation in London in 1982 to support and empower women and families of African-Caribbean heritage. These initiatives are a few among many as Claudia Jones is considered an icon in anti-racism movements in the UK and across the globe.

 

Sir Trevor McDonald

Sir Trevor McDonald (born 16 August 1939) is a retired radio reporter, news presenter, and sports journalist. He was born and educated in Trinidad where his career in media began, working as a radio reporter, news presenter and sports journalist. He was sent to London in 1962 to report on talks at Marlborough House which culminated in setting a date for Trinidad’s Independence.

In 1969 he came to London to work as a Producer in the BBC Overseas Regional Service. He went on to produce Current Affairs programmes for the BBC World Service and worked on a number of shows like The World Today which are still part of the BBC World Service schedule. He continued working as a reporter for ITN as a General Reporter in 1973. McDonald later became the anchor of News at Ten, The Evening News, and Tonight with Trevor McDonald.

He has won more awards than any other news broadcaster in the UK, including Newscaster of the Year in 1993, 1997, and 1999. In 1999, he was knighted for his services to journalism. McDonald is also the biographer of two books on cricketing heroes, Clive Lloyd (1985) and Vivian Richards (1987), and has published his autobiography Fortunate Circumstances (1993).

Since retiring as a newsreader in 2008, McDonald has made and presented a number of critically acclaimed documentaries, including Death Row 2018 (2018), a sequel to his award-winning documentary Inside Death Row (2013), and Martin Luther King by Trevor McDonald (2018). McDonald was the first journalist to interview Nelson Mandela after his release from prison in 1990. It was a moment of profound impact on the journalist’s career and in 2018, to mark the centenary of Mandela’s birth, McDonald made the documentary Trevor McDonald: Return to South Africa, in which he considered the continued struggle for social equality in post-apartheid South Africa.

 

Pictures in order of appearance: Baroness Amos, Claudia Jones, Sir Trevor McDonald – by Zoe Sinclair ©              

Riot delivers communications campaign for Flying Scotsman centenary

Flying Scotsman Michael Morpurgo

Riot Communications has won a competitive tender from the National Railway Museum, part of the Science Museum Group to deliver a communications campaign for the centenary of one of its star objects, the Flying Scotsman. The objective: to celebrate the importance of the world-famous locomotive in British history whilst also introducing it to new family audiences.

February 2023 will mark 100 years since the celebrity locomotive embarked on its first voyage from the sheds at Doncaster Works. It is named after the daily 10:00am London to Edinburgh rail service and has since become synonymous with the golden-age of rail travel alongside the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express.

Riot announces its partnership with the National Railway Museum following two months of intensive preparation for the launch of the centenary campaign at a media event at London King’s Cross station on 14th October. It was Flying Scotsman’s first public appearance following a major mechanical overhaul, which has been completed in recent days.

To drive national interest in the centenary, with a particular focus on engaging family audiences, Riot worked closely with the National Railway Museum (across its events, publishing, brand licensing and retail teams) and a range of stakeholders – including the Science Museum Group, Network Rail, Thames & Hudson, and funders including model railways manufacturer Hornby – to create a launch event that delivered engagement on multiple levels. This included a BBC One – Breakfast broadcast package filmed live from Platform 8 of the station, where Flying Scotsman sat in light steam over the course of the weekend (14-16th October), and a photocall for international picture desks featuring bestselling author Michael Morpurgo – who has written a new children’s book for the centenary – doing a special reading to six-year-old pupils from a local Camden primary school next to the iconic locomotive (pictured). Getty Images’ photograph was featured in the Guardian’s ‘Best photographs of the day‘.

Alongside Michael Morpurgo, whose book tells the story of a little girl who dreams of being a train driver, spokespeople for the occasion included: the National Railway Museum’s Dr Sophie Vohra, a rail anniversary expert; Grand Central Trainee Train Driver Stacey Fox, who operates out of King’s Cross Station, and Molly and Polly Jackson, granddaughters of Wilston Samuel Jackson, Flying Scotsman’s first black train driver.

Ahead of the centenary itself in February 2023, families nationwide are invited to discover the magic of Flying Scotsman through Michael Morpurgo’s Flying Scotsman and the Best Birthday Ever and by exploring the calendar of centenary events which went live on Friday 14th October and include the chance to travel behind Flying Scotsman at several locations across the country between October 2022 and November 2023. Further details about the centenary tour can be found in this brilliant Guardian travel feature

Alistair Otto, Commercial Operations Director, Science Museum Group, said:

“Flying Scotsman is one of the jewels in the crown of our world-class collection, so we are delighted to have this unique opportunity to celebrate this significant milestone with the nation. The centenary calendar gives us some unique opportunities to engage with a wide range of audiences and reach those who may not ordinarily engage with this iconic locomotive. Working with Riot has been a fantastic experience for all our teams and we know with their expertise and support it will be another memorable year for Flying Scotsman.”

Katy MacMillan-Scott, Director, Riot Communications, said:

“We jumped at the opportunity to put ourselves forward for this tender, knowing Flying Scotsman’s place in British cultural history and immediately seeing how Riot could bring this icon of engineering and design to a brand-new generation of parents and children. After all, who doesn’t love a steam train? After a two-month deep dive into the world of rail, we were more excited than ever to launch Scotsman’s centenary campaign last week at King’s Cross. Watch this space ahead of the 100th anniversary in February 2023, when Flying Scotsman will travel to Edinburgh Waverley.”

Picture: Author Michael Morpurgo and visiting schoolchildren from Argyle Primary School in Camden cover their ears as Flying Scotsman’s whistle blows © Jody Kingzett / Science Museum Group

The Estate of Francis Bacon x Riot

The Estate of Francis Bacon has hired Riot Communications to deliver PR and event support around the publication of a seminal book on British artist Richard Smith (1931-2016). Richard Smith: Artworks 1954-2013 is the third in the Studies in Art series, published by the Estate to shed light on those of Bacon’s contemporaries whose names have been lost despite their important contributions to contemporary art.

A hugely influential British painter, active between the 1950s and 2000s, Richard Smith earned acclaim relatively early in his life. His first retrospective went on show at London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1966, when he was just 34. Some of his many achievements include being the first British artist to have a solo show at the Venice Biennale in 1970, and putting on arguably the very first solo Pop Art exhibition at the Green Gallery in New York in 1961 with his first solo exhibition.

Smith’s brilliance stemmed from his ability to take imagery from pop culture and merge it with abstract techniques. He tested the boundaries of painting, using everything from advertising and popular music to the natural world as inspiration for his art. Published on 27th October 2022, Richard Smith: Artworks 1954-2013 is the most comprehensive publication on the artist and his works to date. It includes essays from influential names from the art world, all of whom knew Smith personally or have an intimate knowledge of his work, including the curator David Alan Mellor, Chris Stephens (previous Head of Displays at Tate Britain, now Director of the Holburne Museum) and the artist Alex Massouras. Its publication coincides with exhibitions of Smith’s work taking place at The Edge in Bath (28 Sep-7 Dec) and at Flowers Gallery in London (15 Nov – 7 Jan).

Caitlin Allen, Managing Director, Riot Communications, said: “The work of the Francis Bacon Estate is fascinating and far-ranging, and we are delighted to have them as a client. As soon as we’d read the first couple of pages of Richard Smith: Artworks 1954-2013, we realised what an important figure Smith was in the art world. We are very excited to be playing a part in bringing his ground-breaking work to the attention of new audiences.”

Ben Harrison, Deputy Administrator, The Estate of Francis Bacon, said: “I had seen Riot do a great job of promoting a book related to Francis Bacon, and first met them at its launch. We knew that we needed to invest in PR support for the latest in our Studies in Art series to revive interest in Richard Smith. Riot saw early layouts of the book and immediately understood why we were so excited to be publishing new material on Smith, along with the fullest illustration of his oeuvre to date. In addition to the PR campaign, Riot’s help with the exhibitions being organised in connection with the book is proving invaluable. Riot’s professionalism instils confidence, and they are simply nice people to work with.

Q&A with Riot’s new Campaign Executive, Hedvig Lindström

Last month, we welcomed Hedvig Lindström to Team Riot as Campaigns Executive. Hedvig previously worked in a digital marketing role, writing copy and expanding social media reach for a variety of clients, following her work in the Swedish Embassy’s Cultural Affairs team. She has a BA in Communication and Media Studies and an MA in Linguistics from Södertörn University in Stockholm. Hedvig brings a broad range of experience to Riot, with her marketing knowledge and her deep passion for culture, which we know will be an asset to the team. Want to get to know her a bit better? We’ve asked Hedvig to share some of her passions and what she is most looking forward to working at Riot.

What are you most excited about when it comes to joining Riot?

I’m excited to work on a variety of interesting projects that I feel genuinely invested in. I’m also looking forward to having the opportunity to use and explore my creativity more in my day-to-day work.

With no limitations in place, who would be your dream client?

That’s such a hard question – either an interesting contemporary London theatre like the Almeida or my favourite Swedish author Jonas Hassen Khemiri. I loved working with the Swedish Embassy trying to help Swedish authors reach new audiences internationally as there are so many that don’t get read outside of Sweden. Jonas Hassen Khemiri has a very unique voice that explores identity and alienation with perfectly considered language that he uses to play with the framework of a novel in new and interesting ways. I’ve stopped counting the number of times I’ve recommended his novel Everything I Don’t Remember, the translation into English is also excellent.

What was the first book that you fell in love with?

I would have to say the Nancy Drew books because I can remember just being completely caught up in them and reading for hours and hours as a child. As I got older, I remember reading everything on my parents’ bookshelves, and I think The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans was probably the first adult book I read as a young teenager, which was a very special feeling at that age. Unfortunately, I probably wouldn’t enjoy these titles as much as I to pick them up today.

 

What are some of your other passions?

Besides all things culture, I absolutely love knitting and food. One of my favourite things about London is that you can literally get any type of food you want on any day. There are also some really good knitting shops where I spend too much money and too little time. I’ve also always been interested in people and psychology. I wanted to be a therapist when I was younger but now I just indulge in easily digestible reads related to the subject.

Q&A with Riot’s new Campaign Executive, Niamh Houston

Last month, we welcomed Niamh Houston to Team Riot as our new Campaign Executive. Niamh has recently completed an MA in Journalism at Goldsmiths, University of London while working as a freelance journalist for Reach PLC. Her time as a journalist means she brings to Riot a sharp eye for a news story, excellent writing and communications skills, attention to detail, and experience at delivering to deadlines. We’re excited to see Niamh’s PR career take off!

Want to get to know her a bit better? We’ve asked her to share a bit about some of her passions and the things she is most looking forward to about working at Riot.

What are you most excited about when it comes to joining Riot?

More than anything, it’s the chance to work with creative people, on creative projects with so much variety. Riot feels like such a perfect place for me to merge my passions and my skills while learning along the way – and working for a company that shares my values is such an added extra.

With no limitations in place, who would be your dream client?
Having recently undertaken my 15th rewatch of Fleabag, I’d have to say my dream client would be Phoebe Waller-Bridge. But as we’re talking about famous Phoebes, I’d love to work with Phoebe Bridgers – she needs to write a book soon!

What was the first book that you fell in love with?
When I was a kid, there was a book about a toy cat called Nothing by Mick Inkpen – the author of Kipper – which I absolutely fell in love with. This small raggedy toy was brought back to life once it was loved again! As a teen, I loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, but that could be because I was mildly obsessed with Audrey Hepburn….

What are some of your other passions?   
There are so many, but the biggest one is undoubtedly film. It’s to the point that I have a YouTube playlist for musical scores of films that make me cry which I listen to more often than I’d care to admit. I’ll watch anything as my taste is very eclectic, but I do have a soft spot for 80s and 90s rom-coms and indie films.

Q&A with Riot’s new Associate Director, Jessica Jackson

Earlier this month we welcomed the fantastic Jessica Jackson to Team Riot as our new Associate Director. She will become the strategic lead on several of our high-profile clients across the publishing sector and beyond. Having previously held senior management posts at several leading UK publishing houses – most recently as Interim PR Director at HarperNonfiction – she has worked with a whole host of incredible writers from Bruce Springsteen and Russell Brand to Poorna Bell and Jack Monroe.

Want to get to know Jessica a bit better? We’ve asked her to share a bit about some of her passions and the things she is most looking forward to about working at Riot.

What are you most excited about when it comes to joining Riot?

More than anything, I’m excited to be joining an amazing team of people who share my passion to create positive change through the power of culture, and believe in its ability to connect, inspire and transform the world around us.

With no limitations in place, who would be your dream client?

I’d really like to work with Jay Shetty. I believe we are at our happiest when we are connected with a purpose in life. I’m also fascinated by the teachings that come from ancient wisdom. I love how Jay is working every day to inspire people through these ideas on a global scale.

What was the first book that you fell in love with?

There are so many! But if I had to choose one, it would be Mary Oliver’s selected poems Wild Geese. This collection, alongside the Four Quartets by T.S Eliot, inspired my great love of poetry and they have been constant companions through life.

What are some of your other passions?   

One of my undercover passions is backgammon. I love games, and particularly those that rely on an equal balance of skill and chance or risk. My lifetime ambition is to enter the Backgammon World Championship in Monte Carlo. Watch this space…

What it means for Riot Communications to be Blueprinted

Earlier this year, Riot secured The Blueprint diversity mark, which aims to promote racial diversity in PR and communications. In this piece, Deborah Klass, the Finance, Operations & Talent Director at Riot Communications, discusses what it means for our agency to be Blueprinted. Deborah is also the CEO of Croydon-based The Windrush Generation Legacy Association: a registered charity which aims to share the diverse legacy of the Windrush Generation and to support community cohesion. 

What do you love most about working in PR?

My favourite aspect of working in PR is working with such creative people and knowing that, with our Blueprinted status, we have the opportunity to work with colleagues and our clients to make a real difference to the sector.

What has it meant for Riot Communications to be Blueprinted?

One of my first steps, on joining Riot in January 2021, was to challenge the leadership team to really scrutinise our approach to D&I, and to develop a more formal approach to doing it right. As a BME-owned, progressive agency, Riot was already ahead of the curve and had various initiatives in place, but the approach was still fairly ad-hoc. I was hired to assist with the company’s growth and to provide formal oversight of our activities as part of my role as Operations and Talent Director, and D&I champion. 16 months on, and Riot is now a Blueprinted agency – only the sixth agency in the UK to achieve this recognition for diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our business, and certainly one of the smallest! 

We’re incredibly proud to be Blueprinted and to continue being pioneers within the communications industry. Achieving the Blueprint status shows us that what we’ve been working towards, and what we continue to strive towards – true diversity, inclusivity and accessibility – is recognised by an authority that’s leading change. It reassures us that the message we’re giving to our clients and our networks is the right one, one that will support change in our industry and in the work that we do.

What is your favourite diversity project/initiative of the past 12 months?

I know I’m biased here, but my favourite diversity project of the past 12 months has to be Grow With Peter Rabbit, Riot’s campaign for the 120th anniversary of the much-loved children’s brand Peter Rabbit! We’ve been working alongside publisher Penguin Random House Children’s and non-profit garden designers Grow2Know CIC, founded in response to the Grenfell Tower Fire to help unify the community through guerrilla gardening, on a partnership that will see three Peter Rabbit-inspired community garden makeovers take place between now and 2024.  

This partnership is all about creating a positive, social impact and together we’ve delivered a truly inclusive campaign that will bring the benefits of gardening and spending time in nature to families across the UK, as well as delivering a longer-term legacy for the local communities where the three Peter Rabbit Gardens are built.

As CEO of The Windrush Generation Legacy Association, another project I am very proud of is our recent exhibition at our unit in Croydon: an exhibition of Pål Hansen’s collection of photographs, entitled Leave to Remain, which opened on Windrush Day 2022. Pål delivered a moving address at the opening ahead of a series of spoken word poetry, storytelling and comedy performances. Given that our aim is to celebrate and share knowledge of the contributions of the Windrush Generation with young people, the wider community and corporates, this was a fantastic culmination of everything we’ve achieved in the past 12 months. I invite other agencies or individuals reading this to contact me if they’d like to come to visit the exhibition space, or to know more about our work, or even to offer their help.

What event are you most looking forward to in the next 12 months?

Next, I’m looking forward to Black History Month celebrations and the outreach we’ll be able to do, using the month as an opportunity to elevate change and show schools, corporates and consumers how they can incorporate Black history throughout the rest of the year, too. The paperback edition of The Good Ally, by our client Nova Reid, is released in October and we’re planning to use the opportunity to celebrate unsung historical heroes such as Cubah Cornwallis (if you’ve read Nova’s book, you’ll get the reference!). Watch this space!

Registered charity number for The Windrush Generation Legacy Association: 1198341

Riot Communications begins exciting chapter under new leadership

Riot Communications begins a fresh chapter this summer as it comes under new leadership and joins a network of like-minded agencies. Caitlin Allen, a director in Riot’s Senior Leadership team, will take over as Managing Director from Preena Gadher, who co-founded the business with Anwen Hooson in 2009 and leaves the agency to become Managing Director of Penguin General, a division of Penguin Random House from September 2022. 

Allen, who has been at Riot since 2015 and instrumental in the agency’s success, will ensure Riot’s continued growth, much of which has been achieved through the successful acquisition and retention of clients across the culture sector including Aardman, Moomin Characters, The Nine Dots Prize and Penguin Random House. Allen will shape the strategic and commercial pillars of the business while continuing to work with a number of her clients. She will be supported by fellow Riot director, Katy MacMillan-Scott, who has been at Riot since 2016 and who – alongside Allen – has been an integral part of the Senior Leadership Team, helping to shape the direction of the company and coaching and supporting the growing campaigns team. As Creative & Campaigns Director, MacMillan-Scott will ensure that Riot continues to deliver exceptional, creative campaigns for its clients, while maintaining Riot’s unique culture and ethos – particularly around D&I – both internally and externally.  

The Riot leadership team will be supported by a new hire, Jessica Jackson, as Associate Director. Jackson joins on 1st August with 15 years of culture PR experience, having worked with clients both in the UK and in the United States with the likes of Malorie Blackman, Russell Brand, Poorna Bell, Anna Kendrick, Sue Perkins and Bruce Springsteen, to name just a few. She has a particular interest in working on campaigns with purpose, her most recent project being the Imagine Anthology, a creative publishing collaboration for World Refugee Day. 

As part of the agency’s growth strategy, Riot today joins The Splendid Collective, the agency network formed by east London-based consumer comms agency Splendid Communications. Already in The Collective is youth culture and music specialist PR agency Kingdom Collective, who joined in November 2021. The Splendid Collective brings together ambitious, values-led agencies and allows them to share their expertise across sectors and services including PR, social media, influencer, digital marketing and events, in pursuit of more holistic client delivery. As part of this growing network, Riot will retain its identity as a culture and entertainment specialist, whilst benefiting from the support of a Group leadership team led by Splendid Communications CEO Alec Samways.

Also announced today is Director Adele Minchin’s decision to leave Riot to pursue her own creative endeavours. Minchin, who has worked at Riot for the past seven years as part of the leadership team that has grown Riot’s client-base, culture and team into the leading agency it is today, will focus on writing as well as continuing her voluntary role as mentor for The Girls Network, working to inspire and empower girls from the least privileged communities.

Preena Gadher comments: “After 14 years, I have decided to step down as MD of Riot. It has been one of the hardest professional decisions I’ve ever made, but when an exceedingly rare opportunity presents itself, at a time when you know your team is perfectly positioned to take over the successful running of things, it’s the right time for change.

“I am so incredibly proud of how far Riot has come since it began, working with some of the best names in culture and entertainment in the world. I will certainly miss our wonderful clients who have been my passion all these years, and my amazingly talented team. But I know that they are all left in the safe hands of Caitlin and Katy – who are two of the most formidable women I have ever met – and Alec and the team at The Splendid Collective, under whose guidance I know Riot will do even bigger and better things.”

She continued: “My thanks to Anwen Hooson who co-founded the agency with me when we were in our twenties, green but ambitious, and Adele Minchin for her unwavering support all these years.”

Caitlin Allen comments: “I couldn’t be more excited to take on the reins of a business that I know and love so much, having been part of its success for the past six years. I’m delighted to continue Preena’s amazing work and lead Riot in the next phase of its growth, working as part of The Splendid Collective. Riot will continue to do what it is famous for – intelligent, values driven work in the culture and entertainment sector that creates real-world impact for our clients – now with the added excitement of working alongside a group of agencies with different but complementary strengths to help us enhance our proposition.”

Alec Samways, CEO, Splendid Communications, says: “We are delighted to welcome Riot to the network bringing expertise in new sectors to our group, including strong relationships in publishing, television and the arts, as well as a great track record in areas such as purpose and D&I. This partnership reflects our ongoing ambition to nurture and grow a band of like-minded agencies all doing incredible work in their own right, while bringing greater breadth and depth of expertise to the group.”       

Adele Minchin says: “It’s been a great privilege to have worked alongside Preena, an exceedingly talented leadership team and a roster of world-class clients, all of whom I will miss, but I am looking forward to taking the time to follow my own creative pursuits. I wish Preena and the team at Riot every success for the future.”

Splendid Communications has acquired 100% stake in Riot. Gadher will continue to work at Riot in an advisory capacity until 29th July 2022.

Photograph Ⓒ Marc Sethi.

Celebrating Windrush Day 2022

Celebrating Windrush Day 2022

22 June 2022 is the fifth national Windrush Day, and 74 years since the SS Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948, carrying the first Caribbean migrants to the UK. 

Deborah Klass is Finance, Operations & Talent Director at Riot. She is the CEO of The Windrush Generation Legacy Association, an organisation which aims to celebrate and share knowledge of the contributions of the Windrush Generation with young people, through exhibitions, seminars, and events. To celebrate last year’s Windrush Day, Deborah shared this piece detailing her mother’s experiences of immigrating to the UK. This year, we’re sharing the experiences of Julian Bertrand’s parents, Daphney and John Bertrand.

“My mother and father were both born in Grenada and had four sons. My mother says the British government were asking people in the West Indies to go England with the promise of opportunities for them and their family. In July 1960, they travelled from Grenada to England on a cruise ship called the Ascania, with close friends and some family. When they arrived in London, they stayed with family for a couple of years while they found jobs and saved money.

My mother says that when she initially arrived in England, she didn’t like it because the weather was cold and English people were unwelcoming, but as more West Indians arrived, they formed friendships, communities and banded together. The community had many gatherings and parties to get to know each other and keep their spirits up. 

My father worked on a building site, where many other West Indians worked, and my mother worked for a textiles company, sewing. Because of whom they worked with, they did not experience as much racism as some of their peers, but they heard horrifying stories from friends and family over the years.  They made quite a few Irish friends, because Irish people were treated similarly to black people at the time, by the English.

Once my parents had saved enough money to purchase a home, they sent for their sons 2 at a time. My mother explained that while she found it easy to find work, the wages were very low, and it was a struggle bringing up children. She explains that once they owned their own home, my parents were able to house other people arriving from the West Indies. She said that generally black people stayed with other black people, because many English people did not want to rent to them.

Generally, my parents missed Grenada a lot and wanted to go back. In 1978 they returned to Grenada, 18 years after they arrived in England.”

The Windrush Generation Legacy Association is opening a new portrait exhibition featuring Pål Hansen’s ‘Windrush – Leave to Remain’ photographs at 1036-1037, the Whitgift Centre, Croydon, from 23rd June 2022. Contact info@thewindrushgla.co.uk, 020 3772 4545.

Penguin Random House Children’s hires Riot for Peter Rabbit 120th anniversary campaign

Penguin Random House Children’s has hired Riot Communications to support the development and delivery of a socially impactful campaign to mark 120 years of the much-loved children’s brand Peter Rabbit. 

On behalf of Frederick Warne & Co. (owners of The World of Peter Rabbit™), Riot Communications has been working alongside Penguin Random House Children’s and non-profit garden designers Grow2Know CIC on a partnership that will see three Peter Rabbit-inspired community garden makeovers take place between now and 2024. 

The Grow With Peter Rabbit initiative will draw on Peter Rabbit’s playful nature and bring the benefits of gardening and spending time in nature to families across the UK. The three gardens and a series of bespoke How-To videos – for families to follow at home – will be designed and delivered by Grow2Know’s founders, including: semi-professional footballer, community activist and TV presenter Tayshan Hayden-Smith, garden designer and TV presenter Danny Clarke (aka ‘The Black Gardener’), and Ali Yellop, agriculturist, chef and herbalist. 

The first community garden is in development in a disused plot attached to a primary school in Kensington: the borough in which Grow2Know was founded in response to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in 2017, and where Peter Rabbit’s creator, Beatrix Potter, was born. It will be opened in Summer 2022 and available to pupils and the wider local community for workshops and events.

Families across the UK will be encouraged to Grow With Peter Rabbit from home during National Children’s Gardening Week 2022 (28th May to 5th June) when the How-To series will be released via www.peterrabbit.com. Supporting the campaign on social media will be TV presenter and farmer JB Gill and married couple Jake and Hannah Graf MBE, named by the Guardian as one of the UK’s most influential LBGTQ couples. Their families will be joining in to demonstrate how easy and fun it is to grow your own vegetables at home, using simple, upcycled objects and a packet of seeds.

Katy MacMillan-Scott, Director, Riot Communications, said: “This was a dream brief for us: to take a much loved, heritage brand, and to develop its core values – of mischief, of play, of the joy of being in nature – into a collaboration with integrity, legacy and real-world social impact. It’s been a joy to work with the hugely talented teams at Penguin Random House Children’s and Grow2Know to develop this campaign, and we cannot wait to see the final garden reveal. In the meantime, we hope families across the country will get growing with Peter Rabbit this May.

Izzy Richardson, Global Brands Director, Penguin Random House Children’s, said: “As custodians of The World of Peter Rabbit and publisher of Beatrix Potter’s tales, we’re in the unique position of being able to use Beatrix Potter’s timeless stories to affect change and drive positive, social impact. We were both encouraged and impressed by Riot’s credentials in this area and felt confident they were the right partner to work with on this important and exciting campaign. We are really proud of what we have managed to achieve together, and the team at Riot have been collaborative and supportive throughout.”

To find out more, get inspired, sign up for video content and grow with Peter Rabbit, visit www.peterrabbit.com or follow @officialpeterrabbit on Instagram and Facebook.