Friends of Birmingham Irish
Carl Chinn MBE Ph.D. F.Birm.Soc. is Professor of Community History at the University of Birmingham and history advisor for the schools of Perry Beeches The Academy. He is a social historian with a national profile, newspaper columnist, public speaker, writer, and charity fundraiser. A campaigner for good causes, he has also been active in pressing for the rights of working-class people and the recognition of the importance of manufacturing.
Professor Chinn is the author of 32 books that include studies of working-class housing, urban working class life, working-class women’s lives, manufacturing, Birmingham, the Black Country, and ethnic minorities. He has appeared as an expert on various television programmes, and is well-known for his weekly local history articles in the ‘Birmingham Mail’ and ‘Express and Star’, and for his monthly Brummagem Magazine. Carl is a passionate and proud Brummie and West Midlander who began his teaching career in adult education and who believes strongly in the importance of life-long learning and of opening up educational opportunities to everyone.
Professor Chinn’s broadcasting and writing on housing, working-class life, poverty, women, ethnic minorities, and the importance of manufacturing is deeply affected by his family’s working-class background and life in the back-to-backs of Birmingham. This affinity led him to take a prominent role in the campaign to save the last back to backs in Birmingham and turn them into a National Trust Museum. Professor Chinn also featured strongly in the fight to ensure the re-opening of Birmingham’s Town Hall, in the drive for a memorial to the paupers who died in Birmingham Workhouse, and in the campaign for a fitting memorial for the victims of the Blitz in Birmingham. He has been an active supporter of the Birmingham St Patrick’s Parade and festival and began the Birmingham St George’s Day Association, which has led the way in celebrating England and Englishness in a positive and embracing way.
An ardent supporter of manufacturing, Professor Chinn was a key figure in the battle to keep the Longbridge car factory open in 2001 and has since supported the struggles for jobs at Chubb, Alstom, HP Sauce, and Smith and Nephew.
Throughout his work in the community, his overarching aim has been to push across the belief that each and every person has made their mark upon history and that each and every person has a story to tell – not only about themselves but also about their people who came before them. Professor Chinn believes passionately that history must be democratised and that the lives of supposedly ‘ordinary’ people matter because the people themselves matter. To these ends his work has focused upon those who too often have been excluded from or marginalised by formal history: the working class, especially the poor; women; and ethnic minorities.
Carl Chinn was awarded the MBE by her Majesty the Queen in June 2001 for his services to local history and his fund-raising for local charities. He has also been involved in building homes for orphans in Romania and in refurbishing a school in the Andes in Ecuador. In 2004 Carl Chinn was made Chair of Community History at the University of Birmingham; and in 2010 he was awarded a Gold Medal by the Institute of Sheet Metal Engineering for his ‘commitment, enthusiasm and support for our manufacturing heritage’. In November 2012 he was awarded a special Local Heroes Award by the Birmingham Mail for championing the City and for his work in uncovering its past; and in June 2014, he was made a Master of the Open University for his work in community history.
Bob Brolly was born in Derry, Northern Ireland where he spent the first 15 years of his life. The family then uprooted and moved to Coventry, England where he lives to this day.
As a very young boy, growing up in Ireland, Bob spent many years singing in the choir at the Waterside Chapel, so singing was something that Bob had done from a very early age. Bob’s voice was trained by the Priests and he then became a soloist for many years.
He studied engineering and served his apprenticeship in the car industry. After 6 years of studying engineering, a series of different jobs then followed from shoe shop manager to beer taster for Bass Breweries.
By this time, Bob’s family had moved into the pub trade and this is where Bob’s musical career was more or less launched. Bob formed a band in which he was drummer and singer. After many different band ‘line-ups’, Bob found his forte fronting the band and singing, which he is doing to this very day. His band, Calvary, toured the world as far away as Australia and America and all over Europe.
Bob presents his own award winning Irish show every Sunday (3-6pm) and his Saturday music and chat show (12-2pm) on BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire, 94.8, 103.7, 104 FM
He has won many major awards including the Irish World Radio Presenter of the Year, the Irish Post Media Person of the Year. Bob was granted an Apostolic Blessing from Pope John in the Vatican for his fundraising efforts for many charities. Again in recognition of his charity work Bob was Mayo Person of the Year in 2006
For services to Broadcasting with the BBC and the wonderful work he does for charities, having raised over £2.5M, Bob was invited to Buckingham Palace and awarded the MBE.
Bob’s new TV Show, Brolly & Friends goes to air on Irish TV on Thursday, 8th October at 8pm and is repeated again the following Sunday at 12 noon and can be viewed on Sky 191, Freesat 400.