Monday, 4 April 2016

Hello from the Green Party candidate for Orton Waterville ward, Peterborough

Thank you for coming to find out more about me.

My name is Julie Howell. I'm 45 years old and I live in the beautiful and vibrant city of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, UK with my partner David, our two cats Derek & Gracie and our dog, Reggie.

My dog Reggie in Ferry Meadows
Reggie, Ferry Meadows, Peterborough
I first moved to Peterborough in 2003, and lived in Woodston for a number of years. I now live in one of Peterborough's newer areas: Orton Northgate. If you are familiar with the region then you will know about the fantastic Peterborough Arena which is situated on the legendary Peterborough Showground. Orton Northgate is immediately adjacent to the Showground in the ward of Orton Waterville.

I have a lot of love for Peterborough, our wonderful people and our beautiful surroundings. I have been a Parish Councillor for Orton Waterville since May 2015. On 5th May 2016, I will stand again for Orton Waterville Parish Council, as an independent Parish Councillor. On this day, I will also stand in the Peterborough City Council elections as the official Green Party candidate for Orton Waterville ward.

I have had a varied career to date. My degree is in Library & Information Studies (University of Brighton, 1989-1992). Although my passion for access to reading and information never dwindled, in 1997 I moved out of libraries and into the world of the Web, when I became responsible for the website at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). In 1999, I became RNIB's campaigns manager for digital issues. It was my responsibility to make businesses and the Government aware of the need to design their online systems to ensure that disabled people can use them. An online system can be on a computer or another web-enabled device, such as a mobile phone, touchscreen, cash machine or television. I love RNIB. During my time there I worked on the first British Standard specification for website design and I travelled the UK (and visited other countries such as China, USA, United Arab Emirates, Canada and the Netherlands) to spread the important message of accessible technology for all.

I moved on from RNIB in 2006 to work in the web design industry and from 2010 I have run my own business, coaching people in confidence skills (my first book on the subject was published in 2014).

2001 disability rights march
On a march in London in 2001 to demand better access to treatment for people with MS on the NHS

I have been an active disability rights campaigner for many years. In 1991, when I was aged 20 and still at University, I was diagnosed with the neurological condition multiple sclerosis (MS). I have been living with MS for more than a quarter of a century now! Although it is a nuisance at times, MS has gifted me with the opportunity to see life through the eyes of people living with chronic conditions and disability and I remain very concerned that we should all enjoy the the best quality of life possible, regardless of disability or circumstance. In 1995, I founded one of the world's first online communities for people living with MS. It's called Jooly's Joint, and has around 60,000 members from all around the world. I wholeheartedly support the Green Party Philosophy on Disability.

Although I do get homesick when away from Peterborough for any length of time (it's true!) I pop down to Brighton a couple of times a year. Not only is Brighton home to Caroline Lucas, the first British Green MP (Brighton Pavilion), it holds a very special place in my heart as I was once a student of Brighton University. In 2012, I was incredibly fortunate to be chosen from 15,000 former students as the winner of the University's inaugural Alumnus of the Year award. When receiving the award, I was asked to give a short 'inspirational' speech to 2000 graduating students at the prestigious Brighton Dome.

The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted one of my greatest musical heroes, singer-songwriter Nick Cave in the video! Nick received an honorary degree at the same ceremony, which meant I had to suffer the excruciating embarrassment of giving a speech in front of my idol! The photo of us in our graduation robes is one I'll always treasure.

Julie Howell and Nick Cave at University of Brighton
An unforgettable moment at University of Brighton with Nick Cave

You can already guess that I also love animals. My two cats and dog are all rescues, adopted from the wonderful Wood Green, The Animals Charity in nearby Godmanchester. Animals do a great deal to enhance our quality of life and pets can be a wonderful source of joy and companionship. Later this year, I'm doing a Firewalk to raise money and awareness for Wood Green. I'm also currently writing a blog about my Wood Green cat Gracie, who is now doing really well after a very difficult start in life.

In my spare time I like to walk Reggie in our beautiful countryside, work on my family tree, and catch up with friends over a glass of wine. I also make a nice chocolate cake (I'm not a very good cook, but I try, and nearly everyone loves chocolate!).

Homemade chocolate cake
One of my more successful attempts at a chocolate cake

I joined the Green Party because I support what the Green Party stands for and over the next few posts I'll tell you exactly what inspires me about being Green and why I believe Orton Waterville needs a Green Party Councillor.

I want the very best for all Orton Waterville residents from every walk of life. We are a very diverse ward, and that's one of the many reasons why Orton Waterville is such a great place to live.

That's enough about me for now! I welcome your comments and questions and look forward to meeting more of you in the weeks leading up to polling day on Thursday 5th May 2016.


  1. I have known Julie for almost 20 years. She is a hardworking, thoroughly public-spirited individual who has always worked for the common good in everything she has been involved in. Alas I'm not an Orton Waterville elector, but if I was then she'd most certainly have my precious vote on 5th May 2016.

    1. Thank you, John. It is great to have your support and to know I would have your vote.