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Catching up with... Tim Herbert

This month we catch up with National Geographic Kids features editor Tim Herbert.

Tim HerbertWhen were you at Kingston?

I studied English from 1991–94. It was a polytechnic when I started, but became a university in my second year. I remember the first day back after it had changed – none of us knew it was happening and we all walked around staring at the new signage, thinking 'eh?!' It was surreal walking into the refectory at Penrhyn Road and seeing a Pizza Hut in there. We all thought we were lost!

Why did you choose Kingston?

Kingston was the top poly in the country at the time and I'd heard great things about the place. I actually got turned down, initially, because I didn't get the right A-level grades. But, incredibly for me, I grew some balls, jumped on a train and just turned up at the course tutor's office. He had a few minutes to spare and I somehow managed to persuade him to give me a place on the course anyway! I live in south east London now, but I've lived all over the UK. When I went to Kingston, my folks lived in Romford, Essex.

Sum up your memories of your time at Kingston in two or three words.

Three fantastic years. 

Who is your favourite lecturer?

I loved them all. Tim Cook (my course tutor) and Lindsey Stonebridge were my favourites – most of the blokes on my course had a crush on her, I seem to remember! But we had some great lecturers including John Mepham, Peter Conradi and Martin Corner.

Have you been back since graduating and are you still in touch with anyone?

No, I've not been back to the university, but I have popped back to Kingston itself a couple of times and had a drink down memory lane at the Boaters. The town's changed loads. I'm still in touch with ten or so friends from those days, which is great. 

What did you expect to do after graduating, and are you doing it?

I always wanted to become a journalist, so after graduating I did a postgrad magazine journalism course in Portsmouth, and did the all-important work experience stints. It all sort of clicked into place from there. I freelanced for a bit, got a staff job on FHM and, thankfully, I'm still a journo today. I'm working on National Geographic Kids magazine now.

What's your greatest achievement?

Blagging my way onto the course at Kingston, probably, plus getting a career which I enjoy. And my wife and two lovely kids, of course.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Work as hard as you can while still being able to enjoy yourself. Uni is all about having fun as well as having an education. And if an opportunity comes your way, take it! 

What last made you laugh?

This morning – my little boy, Jamie, telling me all about my birthday present before I'd opened it.

What's your ideal weekend?

Three points at the football (Brighton & Hove Albion), nice dinner with wine and a lazy Sunday in bed. Not that that last bit ever happens these days because of the kids. I'd love a lie in!

Tell us something we would never guess about you.

I got my tongue pierced when I was travelling.

You are to live out your final days on a desert island…

Who would you take with you any why? Hmm... if I can't take my wife and kids (obviously), I think I'd take Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton. She's lovely and knows loads about survival, so she'd be fun and very handy!
What book would you take and why? Shantaram – a great adventure that would be perfect for whiling away the hours.
What movie would you take and why? Castaway with Tom Hanks. I don't particularly like it, but it's like a desert island guidebook. Other than that, something funny, like Uncle Buck!
What food item would you take and why? Shepherd's pie – it's one of my favourites!

Photographer's credit: Tim Roney

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