The Knaphillian publisher… Annie Wheeler

Annie Wheeler

I just wanted to introduce myself and let you know how I am involved in relaunching The Knaphillian website. I can’t really ask you to give me stories about yourselves if I am not prepared to put my head above the parapet and let you know who I am!

My husband Steve and I have been living in Knaphill for seven years and were attracted to the village because of the diversity of businesses and amenities. We lived in Byfleet for a number of years and loved it there, but both being self-employed, wanted to find a house with enough space for a separate office. We were lucky enough to find just the right place very central to Knaphill village. We were keen to make the most of the vast array of local shops, the post office, restaurants and to meet some new friends through the pubs and some other social groups.

We feel lucky that our lovely neighbours and a lot of other local people who are now friends have been so welcoming, so now we never want to leave! We also benefit from some beautiful walks within a short distance of where we live and now have some other good friends through dog walking.

Before we moved here and for a few years afterwards, I was glued to The Knaphillian and the Knaphill Residents Association websites – particularly the Forum that Mal Foster ran in The Knaphillian, as it gave me the opportunity to get the feel of the village and hear what other residents were recommending or asking about.

Steve and I were lucky enough to meet Mal after I read his first novel, The Asylum Soul. This powerful and absorbing book moved me so much that I had to drop him a line through his website and tell him. Mal was about to organise a history walk around the area that the novel was set in so we joined him on that. It was fascinating. From time to time, we would bump into Mal and once I got to know him a little better, began nagging him about publishing The Knaphillian again. He kept saying no, so one day I asked if I could take over the title. The rest as they say …!

Having worked in publishing and advertising production most of my life, and now running my own production company, I am really excited to be publishing something of my own. We decided that The Knaphillian was going to take a different direction as there was an opportunity to really focus on the hard-working people that are running such interesting and useful businesses, clubs, associations and services in this village and nearby. We want readers to feel they already know these people before they pick up the phone or walk in through the doors of the shops and other services. It has been so interesting walking round talking to some business owners and I shall look forward to many more opportunities as we go forward with this.

So, in true Knaphillian style, I have asked myself some questions:

What did I want to do when I left school?
There wasn’t much in the way of careers advice when I was at school, so for girls it was a question of learning to type and cook so we could be typists until we got married and good homemakers when we had children. As I was a bit rubbish at both typing and cooking, there was no attraction there for me! I was however, lucky enough to have patient and encouraging parents who, having both worked in publishing (Dad as a press photographer and Mum as a publisher’s assistant), sort of frog marched me to my first interview at The Daily Telegraph. I got the job and became very interested in what other people in the building were doing to produce a national newspaper. So I spent time each day in the basement of the building watching the compositors hot-metal typesetting the next day’s issue and waiting for the presses to roll.

Did I like any particular aspect of school life?
I went to West Byfleet Secondary Modern, which as the name suggests was modern thinking and mixed things up a little in that girls were allowed to do woodwork, technical drawing and metal work, and boys were allowed to cook and do needlework (although I never saw any of them do that!). It was only for one term, but I loved it and it made me open to trying new things.

What job do I do now?
I run a production company working with healthcare, beauty and lifestyle clients. And now of course publish a website!

What is the best decision I ever made and why?
Marrying my husband (obviously!) and re-launching The Knaphillian will hopefully turn out to be a good decision. It feels good to be able to do something for the community and support the local trades to keep them thriving. 

Are there people in my life who inspire me?
Ooo yes – so many!

Many of my good friends and my family are exceptional and inspirational people who take on so much in their working lives and then squeeze in more in their ‘spare’ time’ or in retirement. I admire anyone with a big heart who reaches for new and interesting ideas and doesn’t let the grass grow. As my lovely Dad used to say, ‘Whoever rests rusts!’.

I am trying to learn to play acoustic guitar, so there are loads of great song-writers and guitarists who inspire me, but I would say my long suffering and hugely talented guitar teacher Bill Boazman and my good friend Gavin Thomas (who regularly gigs in Guildford and Windlesham) both inspire me to stick at my guitar lessons.

A special mention too, to my friend, designer and website builder Duncan Norton who has worked so hard to help me get The Knaphillian website working and launched. He is already hugely knowledgeable about website building but has the knack of being able to tirelessly research things he doesn’t have answers to. What a trouper.

Oh, and my husband of course who makes me so happy and keeps me grounded.

If I could give any advice to my younger self, what would it be?
That’s an easy one. I had no idea I had so much spare time in my twenties and thirties and wish I could turn the clock back and use it more usefully and interestingly. I had a lovely time then as I do now, but I could have started to learn guitar then and might actually be able to play by now!

What has been my best moment so far in my business?
Starting my own production company ten years ago was pretty good and of course I am excited about The Knaphillian website and really hope people will like it. 

What are my plans for the future?
Ha ha! To have some spare time?

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