Jenny Hogg is a marketing a digital officer at the Wyvern Theatre. She is also the driving force behind People Of Swindon, a Twitter project in which ordinary people are invited to tweet about their lives and their community
NOT yet 27, Jenny Hogg has played piano with Rik Mayall, helped Lenny Henry deal with the national press and worked with countless other famous people Now she’s fighting to boost Swindon’s image among the Twitterati.
For someone who arrived here from Yorkshire only two years ago, her passion for promoting Swindon borders on the evangelical. She said: “Swindon doesn’t have the best reputation but I’m sure the people can show the Twitter world and the rest of the world that Swindon is a nice place.
“Also, some people in Swindon might see things they didn’t know about, even though they’ve lived here for 20 or 30 years.
“The myth about Swindon is that it’s a concrete place where there’s not much going on, but the reality is that it’s quite vibrant. There's culture here – there’s the Wyvern, the Arts Centre and some really good theatre companies, such as TS Productions. They’ve been to Stratford, and how many other amateur theatre companies can say they’ve been to Stratford to perform Shakespeare?
“We also have things like the Big Arts Day. I think that’s an amazing idea.”
Jenny is from Leeds. Her mother is a retail manager and her father is managing director of a textile company. She has a brother and two stepsisters.
She said: “There’s no theatre tradition in the family, but mum used to work front of house for Leeds Grand Theatre.
“I went to Intake High School Performing Arts College – it’s where Mel B from the Spice Girls went, and lots of people from soaps. Because it was a performing arts school we got extra dance and drama lessons.”
This initially suited Jenny. “I used to perform in primary school, putting on shows in the playground and performing in school assemblies.”
As time passed, though, Jenny realised that performance was no longer the direction she wanted to follow. “At GCSE I did extra art and photography lessons. I preferred being behind the scenes.
“At A-level l did art, photography and media, and after that I did a gap year at Leeds Grand Theatre, just getting front-of-house experience.”
A media degree at Leeds University saw her trained in everything from law to video production, and was followed by a series of internships which included stints at Yorkshire Radio, the Leeds Film Festival and Leeds United TV, where her duties included interviewing players and management on screen.
The move to Swindon came in 2010 after the Wyvern advertised a vacancy. “I love meeting new people and finding creative ways to promote shows. It’s nice when you have an idea that might sound crazy but you make work.”
One of the highlights of Jenny’s Wyvern career so far came ahead of last year’s panto when she asked Swindon Town manager Paolo Di Canio to show Cinderella some fancy footwork at the County Ground. Paolo was happy to help out and headlines were duly generated.
She has met many other stars, but particularly fond memories include sharing a piano keyboard with Rik Mayall and helping to ensure a round of national newspaper interviews with Lenny Henry during a visit to Swindon went smoothly.
Her idea for the People of Swindon Twitter project was inspired by similar projects elsewhere, including Sweden.
Starting on November 5, Swindon people will be handed the account for a week at a time to Tweet on their experiences.
Jenny said: “I’m really hoping it will take off. I think people may not know what it’s all about at first, but then a couple of weeks into it they might become interested and want to do it for themselves.”
For further details, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see peopleofswindon.wordpress.com