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Graham Fisher

Graham Fisher MBE

BSc (Hons) Combined Sciences 1975

Broadcaster and writer Graham Fisher MBE has enjoyed a decorated, varied and accomplished career in the media industry, dedicating much of his career to helping with the promotion and preservation of some of the nation’s most cherished beauty spots.

An Applied Science graduate, Graham has spent much of his working life discussing the preservation of Britain’s waterways, an often tireless task that saw him awarded an MBE in 2001.

A talented writer and presenter, he has written countless books and spoken regularly about the cause closest to his heart. His work has earned him national recognition, being featured on shows such as Countryfile, Escape to the Country and Barging Around Britain.

He is currently engaged with enhancing the digitisation programme with the Canal & River Trust across the waterways network via their mapping. 

His work has taken him far away from his Science roots at Sunderland. However Graham, who originates from the Black Country, still fondly recalls his time at the University and acknowledges that the insights he picked up during his time in the North East has gone on to influence his work substantially.

He said: “I am proud of my time at Sunderland and what I achieved, modest as it may seem to the entrants of today."

“I really was a gifted biology student - with a blend of other sciences that seemed to hit the mark with my aspirations to be a scientist. Which I never actually became, but even now I constantly refer to my methodology in my work as being down to my ‘scientific discipline’, which has never left me and has served me well.”

During his time at Sunderland, Graham worked as a Social Secretary for the Student’s Union, a role he fully embraced, booking big name acts of the time such as Roy Wood, Jigsaw and Hot Chocolate to play at the University. Working with these artists would later inspire him to start his own music career, releasing an album and playing at Birmingham’s NEC Centre.

Graham was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in February 2021 in recognition of his work with the Society on the Midlands inland waterways network and the Stourbridge Glass industry, together with his wider involvement in social, environmental and educational matters over many years in both the professional and voluntary sectors.

Quote Graham Fisher

Looking back, he has nothing but happy memories of his time at the Student’s Union. “I always relished the Saturday Night ‘bash’ in Wearmouth Hall,” he recalled. “Indeed for a time, I was Social Secretary of the Student’s Union during which time I booked, amongst others, Stealer’s Wheel, Jigsaw, Beckett and Hot Chocolate - all for twenty five quid! Roy Wood was an exception because he had a light-show so he charged thirty.”

Graham remains hugely thankful for the education that he received at Sunderland and believes it has been crucial to the successes he’s enjoyed during his career.

“I never actually took up a position related to my science degree,” he explained. “But, I did - and still do - value it immensely for the purity of it showing that I had a bit of intellect between my ears. 

“My work history’s been an eclectic mix and you could say that I have made myself number one in a field of one. But, way back down the line, I am convinced that Sunderland had a large part to play in where I am now.”

The culmination of Graham’s work came in 2005 when he was named Inland Waterways Personality of the Year, putting him alongside the likes of David Suchet, Timothy West and John Craven. Graham now resides in the serene peacefulness of the Welsh Borders, but still returns to his West Midlands roots for work, where he has become something of a celebrity.

“I am a Black Country man by extraction but am now resident on the Welsh borders where I live in virtual anonymity.

“But I travel to my beloved Black country on a regular basis for business where, somewhat embarrassingly, I am routinely recognised or asked for my autograph,” he admits.

For Graham, his degree was a remarkable achievement coming from a working class background with little money during his childhood. His advice for anyone thinking of going to University is to go for it and give your all for the sheer satisfaction of being able to say that you have done it in later life.

He advised: “Forget the career prospects, the advancement in life, the money, the fame or whatever. Just go and do it for the sheer satisfaction that when you get to my age, forty-odd year down the line, you can look back and say ‘yep’.”

Graham still feels indebted to the start the University of Sunderland gave him to his career and firmly believes that anyone who chooses to study here will have the same rewarding, satisfying and life altering experience he did.

He concluded: “If I can encourage others to spend a brilliant few years at the University of Sunderland, then so much the better. It certainly had a profound influence on my life and one I still remember with deep affection to this very day.”

You can visit Graham's website at

Article written by Matthew Shevlin, University of Sunderland Journalism graduate.  

Tales From the Barn

Graham is pleased to announce the launch of his new book Tales From the Barn subtitled ‘ the musings of a Black Country ex-pat now domiciled on the Welsh border.

Citing his broadcasting hero Allister Cooke’s Letter From America as the inspiration behind Tales From the Barn, Graham has sought to elucidate and contrast the people, places and events in and around his new home on the Welsh border with those of his native Black Country.  

Tales From the Barn is based on his popular series of podcasts that have been brought together in the form of a sumptuous book collating the first 25 episodes and lavishly illustrated throughout in full colour by Sparrow Publishing.

The result is a pot-pourri of acute observations including, but extending well beyond, Graham’s already-established specialties of inland waterways and crystal glass into an eclectic range of areas that also include geology, crime fiction, ley-lines, industrial archeology, ecology and climate change, sport, language, the Norman Conquest, World War II heroes and much more.

This is Graham’s 10th book under the Sparrow Publishing banner. It is also his 5th to be launched at 5 successive IFoGs, which is unprecedented. A contribution from sales will be made to the British Glass Foundation of which Graham is a Trustee.

Tales From The Barn is being officially launched at the biennial International Festival of Glass (IFoG) in Stourbridge at 11.30am on Friday 23rd August 2019 but is available through the usual outlets and via the internet at

Graham Fisher says: ‘In helping articulate the nuances of two regions and its peoples close to my heart I have been greatly impressed by the striking correlations between my beloved Black Country and my adopted home.


Dr Malcolm Dick OBE, School of History and Cultures at the University of Birmingham who wrote the Foreword says: ‘TFTB explores and illuminates the past and the present of the region of his birth and the Herefordshire-Powys border where Graham now lives. It is one of Graham’s most engaging and wide-ranging books.


Mary Spence MBE (Sparrow Publishing) says: ‘Graham has a scholarly but informal style in which he writes like he speaks. Possibly his best work to date.’

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