About

Jacob Bradfield is a writer, activist and creative from the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. A settled third generation New Age Traveller growing up in a world of austerity, climate breakdown and social division, Jacob now works independently and in collaboration with a range of people and organisations to drive inclusive structural innovation through informed, unapologetic and creative disruption to accepted knowledge, institutions and practices.

Early Years and Education

Jacob, born Zachary Jacob Arnold, was born in Gloucester Royal Hospital on 22 November 2000 and lived in the rural former market town of Lydney on the Western bank of the River Severn for the first 20 years of his life.

From 2001-2002, Jacob spent his time strapped to the front of his mum on the Somerset farm of a family friend as they worked lambing through the foot-and-mouth outbreak, which saw over 6 million cows and sheep killed in an attempt to halt the spread of the disease.

He attended Lydney Church of England Primary School and later Whitecross School, which transitioned into The Dean Academy whilst he was in Year 7. At the latter he was actively involved in the Performance Faculty taking up roles as backstage crew in 4 school productions, setting up and running a drama club for key stage three students, organising a charity showcase and helping write and direct three productions.

Whilst he was academically able, being placed in top sets throughout his time there, he was often rebellious and questioned the relevance of the work he was being asked to do. Despite his misbehaviour, he went on to achieve GCSEs in English Language and Literature, Mathematics, Core and Additional Science, Philosophy and Ethics, Geography and Drama.

After leaving The Dean Academy, Jacob moved up to Wyedean School and Sixth Form Centre – the former school of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling – where he studied English Literature, Media Studies and Politics. During his time at Wyedean, Jacob went through a fairly tumultuous time in his personal life resulting in him leaving his family home. He passed two of his A-Levels, English Literature and Media Studies, but not with the results he would have hoped for and, ironically, he failed Politics but won an election to Lydney Town Council after his studies took a back seat to becoming embroiled in real life politics.

Outside of school, Jacob gained numerous employment, teamwork and personal development qualifications through Sea Cadets and Young Gloucestershire.

Family and Background

In Lydney, Jacob lived with his parents, who met whilst working at Lydney Youth Club – the building that would later become the Sea Cadet unit Jacob attended, and his younger sister until he was 18 before leaving home. His mum, a registered nurse, grew up in a travelling community working at free-festivals like the early days of Glastonbury where she, as a young child, mastered tricking drunk festival-goers into thinking that she could actually play the guitar in return for money and practiced as a trapeze artist.

His biological father was unemployed, had mental health issues, was a heavy user of cannabis and had been abusive. In 2020 he falsely imprisoned Jacob’s mother and 11 year old sister, removing the handles from the windows of the house, pulling out a crossbow and threatening to burn the house down in a psychotic episode. This is when his parents finally separated and Jacob replaced his surname with the name of his maternal great-great-great grandmother, Bradfield.

Jacob’s mother’s upbringing resulted in a hands-off parenting style that allowed him to find his own way, whilst being there for him if she was needed and his maternal family had the most influence on his mindset and choices. A strange mixture of stiff-upper lip British establishment and public service with rebellious political and social outcast.

His great-great-grandfather, Charles George Box OBE, was Chief Constable of Great Yarmouth Borough Police Force and Air Raid Precautions Controller during the Second World War earning an OBE in the King’s Birthday Honours List 1942. Later, he was appointed Chief Constable of Southampton County Borough Police Force in 1947 where he was awarded the King’s Police and Fire Services Medal in the 1953 New Year Honours List and went on to hold the Presidency of the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In his roles he hosted hundreds of engagements with members of the Royal Family, politicians and military leaders. Above he can be seen in a car with Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery as the latter waves to a crowd.

In 1941, Charles entered into the United Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of England and in 1942 he was admitted to the Supreme Grand and Royal Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England as a Royal Arch Mason. He eventually had to leave the freemasons after his wife, Hilda Bradfield-Box who – despite Charles’ status – ruled the family, complained about the time he dedicated to the cause.

Charles’ daughter and Jacob’s great-grandmother, Joyce Adelaide Gray, was a vocal artist and showgirl alongside her partner performing alongside her partner, comedian and musician Reginald John Davidge, who performed under various aliases including ‘Reg Gray’, ‘John Davidge’, ‘John Paul Joans’ and just ‘John’.

Reg’s career began in the mid-1950s, performing in theatrical plays, musicals and films alongside the likes of Michael Caine and Sean Connery. He appeared in the 1958 film Tom Thumb and was in a West End production of ‘Mr Pickwick’. In 1967, he came to the attention of the wider public when he won Granada TV’s talent show, ‘First Timers’. His prize was a management contract with Harvey Lisberg who was most widely known as the manager of Herman’s Hermits.

In 1970, under the tongue-in-cheek alias of John Paul Joans, Reg released The Man From Nazareth as a Christmas single. It was tipped to reach No. 1 in the UK singles chart, but after catching the attention of the John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Reg was forced to withdraw and reprint the records with a new alias. After a post-Christmas performance on Top of the Pops, The Man From Nazareth reached No. 25 in the charts in January 1971. The record was accompanied by a B side track, ‘Got To Get Together Now’ featuring the members of what would become 10CC, which targeted the wealth and lifestyle gap between the Royal Family and working families.

The same year he featured in the “There Was This Fella” documentary on stand up comedy with an obscure routine tackling taboo topics such as war, racism and sex.

Over the next few years Reg would release more music, some of which survives online (Cold Road, The Fear Of Love, The Ten Lost Tribes Of Israel and The Miners’ Song). The latter was released in 1972 to raise money for the dependents’ of striking miners and was banned by the BBC for being political. Reg and his new manager, Maureen Prest, in turn banned the BBC from ever playing the song.

According to Reg’s initial manager, Harvey Lisberg, it was Davidge that recommended Lisberg to Tony Christie who he was on the line up with at Blackpool Winter Gardens. Lisberg in turn found Neil Sedaka’s ‘(Is This The Way To) Amarillo’ whilst visiting New York and thought it would be a perfect follow up to Christie’s hit ‘I Did What I Did For Maria‘. So, if Reg hadn’t connected Lisberg and Christie, the best selling U.K. single of 2005 selling more than 1,000,000 copies accompanied by the iconic Peter Kay video for charity would likely not have happened.

In 1977, Reg was hit by a car whilst in Ireland performing a series of stand-up gigs in support of peace during the conflicts. Unfortunately, he lost most of his memory resulting in him withdrawing from public life until he passed away in 2011.

Hobbies and Interests

Jacob has always been interested in the English language and the creative arts. Outside of his participation in drama at school, he enjoys creative and non-fiction writing and graphic design in his spare time.

He also enjoys water sports such as kayaking and was a cadet at Forest of Dean Sea Cadets rising to the rank of Able Cadet and being awarded three good conduct stipes alongside the Chairman’s Commendation in 2016. Jacob picked up numerous qualifications including First Aid, Seamanship, Rowing and Meteorology, represented cadets on the Unit Management Committee, was coxswain of the Open Boys Rowing Team for two years (Image: Above, Right) and was the unit’s Standard Bearer at parades and ceremonial events (Image: Above, Left).

Jacob has a varied range of other interests from architecture, regeneration and town planning to theme parks, TV and film to travelling. He likes visiting museums, galleries, castles and other buildings both new and old.

Politics, Campaigning and Local Government

In 2017, after being interested in politics online for a number of years, Jacob joined the Labour Party in the run up to the Snap General Election. Shortly after he was approached by the Constituency Youth Officer about taking over from them at the next round of internal elections.

Within a year, Jacob held multiple positions within the party: two roles on the Constituency Executive Committee (Constituency Youth Officer and Joint IT/Media Coordinator, three positions on the Constituency General Committee (his EC roles and Constituency Campaign Coordinator), Chair of the Campaign Committee and three positions on the Lydney and Tidenham Branch Executive Committee (IT/Media Officer, Campaign Coordinator and Youth Officer).

In his roles he helped organise and promote multiple local government by-election campaigns, wrote and passed policy statements, ran workshops, developed and coordinated numerous topical campaigns, produced and distributed press releases in conjunction with Councillors, Officers and Parliamentary Candidates and built a social media following from scratch.

In 2018, Jacob found himself at the centre of a dispute over policy with the Forest of Dean District Council Labour Group. The Group publicly supported the closure of the district’s two community hospitals in favour of a single hospital, this was against national party policy, against local party policy and against the views of a majority of the public. After tweeting that these Councillors weren’t representative of the party position and participating in a protest outside Labour-led Cinderford Town Council, Jacob was suspended from the party pending investigation but was later re-instated.

After his reinstatement, he resumed his roles and became a candidate in the May 2019 local elections to Lydney Town Council and Forest of Dean District Council. He went on to be elected to Lydney Town Council in the first election he was eligible to vote in, with the most votes of any of the Labour candidates. Through this he came a founding member of the Labour Group, before resigning from the party after the 2019 General Election citing irreconcilable political and personal differences with both the national and local parties.

At Lydney Town Council, Jacob was elected as Portfolio Holder for Education and Young People, Chairman of the Youth Services Working Group, Chairman of the Environment Working Group and Vice-Chairman of the Finance and Scrutiny Committee. In his time there he took aim at the Personnel Committee, a secretive committee of senior Councillors and officers, which made decisions without Council oversight resulting in the resignations of the Chief Executive Officer and a number of Councillors. Jacob then led calls for an independent inquiry into spurious activities conducted by the committee, made efforts to make the council more transparent, moved to change standing orders and wrote the job description for the CEO’s replacement.

Among his other achievements at the Council, Jacob led the move to freeze council tax after shifting the Council’s priorities and successfully moved to declare a climate emergency.

Jacob, after being forced to leave Lydney by circumstances beyond his control, knew that his resignation was inevitable when the Black Lives Matter demonstrations swept the UK in June 2020. When the Council backtracked on it’s consent for a protest to take place in Lydney, he strategically timed his resignation to apply maximum pressure to the Council stating that restricting the right to protest for anyone was unacceptable and that human “rights… could be at risk when dangerous precedents are set in desperate times.” The Council eventually u-turned again and the protest went ahead.

Outside of Labour and Lydney Town Council, Jacob has been involved to varying degrees in a number of community and cause campaigns, the first being Hands Off Lydney and Dilke hospitals. He joined HOLD in 2017 and led the communications segment of the campaign including email, social media, websites, press relations and brand design. He helped organise multiple protests, a number of ‘Petition Storm’ events and acted as the Crowdfunding Promoter for a fundraising drive that raised over £4,000 in 45 days to challenge the NHS in court.

Jacob has also been interested in environmental activism spending some time with Extinction Rebellion where he filmed videos, designed newspaper adverts and wrote press releases and with HS2 Rebellion where he acted as Graphics Coordinator and Social Media Administrator helping grow, communicate with and manage a medium sized online following.

Employment

Alongside a demonstrable history of volunteer work and activism, Jacob first had a job at 15 delivering magazines and has since worked in hospitality as bar staff and in an office as a Marketing and Social Media Officer in the financial services industry. He’s also undertaken voluntary work experience placements as a Research Assistant to the Town Clerk of Lydney Town Council and at Royal Mail where he gained experience of both on the ground postal sorting and delivery and area management responsbilities.

Now, he provides freelance multi-media and brand strategy services to individuals and organisations.