Who we are
Founded in May 2011 by long term partners in creative cohesion Tom Barnecutt Watson and Emma Mansfield, Really Lovely Projects started life as The Lovely Foundation Community Interest Company. Part funded by proceeds from Emma’s best-selling publication The Little Book of Cornwall, we began by devising and delivering a range of workshops and story gathering sessions that created the The Little Book of Clay County. Today, Really Lovely Projects CIC is directed by Emma Mansfield and Michelle Nineham with Tom as a trustee.
Emma Mansfield cut her teeth in the film and television broadcasting industry as a researcher, production coordinator, assistant producer and production manager. Her credits include the BBC Rick Stein’s Seafood Odyssey series, the ITV wildflife series Nigel Marven’s Giants and for BBC2 The People Detective.
Emma Mansfield moved to Cornwall in 2002 for a brand new post as The Eden Project’s Arts Administrator. She left in 2006, having held the position as Eden’s first Creative Producer for over two years. During her time at Eden she was responsible for the development of the Eden’s arts and visitor engagement programme, the Eden sessions and the much-loved Time of Gifts winter visitor experience. Having worked with the best of Cornish artists, theatre designers, makers, composers, writers and musicians, her next chapter began when she wrote a book that shared and celebrated the very culture her former colleagues we so dedicated to sustaining.
After writing and researching the best-selling Little Book of Cornwall, Emma created a small publishing company entitled Lovely Little Books, the proceeds of which bought her time to create a community choir in Lostwithiel and expand her passion for music and movement.
Ten books later, Emma brought together her interest in mental, physical and emotional health by training as a yoga teacher at the Yoga Academy with internationally renowned teacher, Simon Low.
In 2013 she founded Lovely Yoga Cornwall which she continues to develop and nurture. After an inspired conversation with Michelle Nineham, one of her yoga students and singers, together they conspired together with Tom to create the first ever Sing Along the River in August 2014. The start of a new creative journey, Sing Along the River started life as a much needed professional platform to showcase the community music of the local area in the heart of the much-loved town of Lostwithiel.
Since then Michelle and Emma have initiated and produced a wide range of community activities including lantern parades, school music projects and concerts and with the support of the trustees of Really Lovely Projects, they continue to expand their repertoire of community wonderment!
Michelle first came to Cornwall in 2000 having secured a posted as teacher of science and psychology at Liskeard School. There she became Deputy Head of Sixth Form and Head of Environment and Outdoor Education bringing together her love of outdoor activity and Cornwall’s coast and countryside.
Her love of teaching and young people’s wellbeing led her to Shaftesbury School where she became their first Head of House. In 2005 she won The National Harcourt Education Award for Developing Leader for Tomorrow.
Her leadership role at Shaftesbury enabled her to combine her passion for psychology and pedagogy, to explore the challenges faced by young people in the classroom and beyond. By engaging not just her students but their families and local community, her enquiry pioneered a number of creative interventions that increased attendance and delivered some measurable improvements, which included a rise in GCSE results.
During this time, Michelle, who had trained in as a Mountain Leader and DofE supervisor and assessor, taught basic expedition leadership to Level 3 and led expeditions in the UK and Europe.
Michelle’s natural aptitude for leadership took her to Kings High School in Bournemouth (now the Bourne Academy) where she became Assistant Headteacher. In this role she gained her National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH). During this time, a significant amount of her focus and energy was directed toward to supporting and facilitating the Senior Leadership Team to significantly raise the attainment of students. In her four year time at this school, attainment moved from 11% of students gaining 5 A* to C GSCE grades to 49% surpassing this measure.
At Kings High, Michelle also secured £40,000 of Arts Council England’s Creative Partnerships fund, part of which she used successfully to reduce teenage pregnancy through her self-devised Go Girls project. As the school faced closure, Michelle directed the remaining funds into a heritage project. She called upon and harnessed the power of nationally acclaimed artists to gather and bring to the life the stories, memories and history of the school’s foundation, after WWII, to the present day. From building an air-raid shelter in the history department’s corridor to a highly sophisticated pyrotechnical display, all of this work culminated in a school and community wide festival. A small school of only 500 pupils engaged and entertained over 1500 people.
In 2010, Michelle became Deputy Headteacher, later Vice Principal, of Bodmin College. Here she has successfully completed her PGCert and her determination and belief in the transformation power of arts and community engagement, has forged new links between the school and its community.
Overseeing the wellbeing of staff and students alike, Michelle makes it her priority to empower the extensive community of Bodmin College, including, families; agencies; other schools; staff; and students, to create the positive solutions to their needs. In her role as line manager of the arts and outdoor education faculties, Michelle works tirelessly to promote creative opportunities for staff and young people, nurturing talent and developing potential.
Having lived in Lostwithiel for the most recent part of her career, she has been overwhelmed by the support, creativity and love that is harboured in a town that nurtures and respects the importance of community cohesion. Her decision to become director of Really Lovely Projects pays homage to this.