Neil Baldwin (Keele University)

Last updated

Neil Baldwin

Born (1946-03-15) 15 March 1946 (age 75)
Other namesNello
Alma mater Honorary graduate of Keele University
Television BBC biographical film Marvellous (2014)
Parent(s)Harry and Mary Baldwin

Neil Baldwin BEM (born 15 March 1946) [1] [2] is an honorary graduate of Keele University [3] [4] from Westlands in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England. [3] He is a registered clown [4] and also worked for Stoke City Football Club, for whom he once played briefly in a friendly match. He is the subject of an award-winning BBC television drama, Marvellous , which was broadcast in 2014.


Personal life

Born to Harry and Mary Baldwin [5] on 15 March 1946, [1] he was diagnosed with a learning disability as a child and required speech therapy. Baldwin left school at age 16 to join Sir Robert Fossett's Circus, the oldest circus in England, for whom he performed as "Nello the Clown" for three seasons. [6] He lived with his mother until a few years before she died in 2003. [6] He is known to be acquainted with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the footballer Gary Lineker and Prince Edward. [7] [8]

Keele University

Since 1960, unasked and unpaid, Baldwin has visited Keele University, where his mother worked as a cleaner, to greet new students. [2] A testimonial football match, on 12 March 2000, featured his own team of Keele University students (the Neil Baldwin Football Club, formed in 1967, [9] whose president was Kevin Keegan) against an all-star side of former Football League players including Lou Macari, Asa Hartford and Gordon Cowans. [10]

He was granted honorary life membership of Keele University Students' Union in 1968. [4] The proposal received unanimous support. [4] His fiftieth year there was marked with a two-day celebration, including a service of thanksgiving presided over by the Bishop of Lichfield, Keele alumnus Jonathan Gledhill, and a further testimonial match. [4] He was also awarded honorary alumni-hood. [11]

In 2013 Baldwin received the honorary degree of Master of the University from Keele University, which said that he

has been adopted by the student body over the last 50 years as something of a mascot for Keele... He has watched, supported and kept in touch with successive cohorts of Keele students building an impressive network of alumni contacts both national and internationally. He serves the students offering advice and support to students, remaining steadfastly proud and loyal to Keele. In doing so, he has openly defended Keele and voiced his concerns about any issue that has or would affect Keele to his numerous contacts within parliament, the various leaders of Christian denomination churches, volunteer organisations and business leaders across the country, of whom he regularly visits. [12]

In 2016, Stoke City FC and Keele University combined to celebrate Neil Baldwin's 70th birthday at Keele Hall. Guests included friends and family, professional footballers and football administrators, members of the clergy, professional actors and screenwriters, impresarios of the circus, Keele University professors, students and graduates, local dignitaries, singers from the Neil Baldwin Choir, three Cambridge University Boat Club rowers, and members of the Neil Baldwin Football Club. The highlight was a birthday greeting by video-link from Sir Alex Ferguson. Vice-Chancellor Professor Trevor McMillan remarked that "Only Neil could bring together people from such diverse walks of life to celebrate his birthday".

Stoke City

In the 1990s Baldwin was appointed as Stoke City Football Club kit-man by then manager Lou Macari [3] [4] [13] [14] who has described him as "the best signing I ever made", as his humour was so good for team morale. [6] In 1993, Macari played him as a substitute for Stoke City, against Aston Villa, in the final five minutes of a testimonial match for Gordon Cowans. [15] [16] Macari later wrote seven pages about Baldwin in his 2009 autobiography, Football, My Life, [4] and said that he is a "man without an angle and there aren’t many of them in football". [17] In May 2015 Baldwin was awarded "Supporter of the year" by Stoke City FC.

Marvellous TV film

Baldwin is the subject of and also appeared as himself in Marvellous , an acclaimed 2014 biographical film in which he is played by Toby Jones who was praised by The Guardian for his "lovely, very human, performance". [18] It was first broadcast on BBC Two and BBC Two HD on 25 September 2014. [19] Reviewing the programme for the Stoke Sentinel , John Woodhouse said: [20]

It says everything for Neil that Marvellous was ever made. For in times when TV is seduced by vacuity and celebrity, it doesn't sound that promising a pitch. A drama, set in Newcastle [under-Lyme], about a man saddled with the tag of "learning difficulties" who reveals himself to be so much more? Good luck with that one. And yet here it is – primetime BBC2.

The film received the 2015 BAFTA for "best single drama", and Gemma Jones received the British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Baldwin's mother. [21] Toby Jones was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor for his performance. [22] Baldwin collected the drama award, during the ceremony at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, and made an acceptance speech.

Marvellous book

Baldwin's autobiography, Marvellous: Neil Baldwin – My Story, written with the help of Keele University alumni Malcolm Clarke and Francis Beckett, was published in hardback by John Blake in August 2015. [23]

Other honours

On 21 May 2015 Baldwin was presented with the Freedom of Stoke-on-Trent [24] and on 26 November 2015 was awarded the freedom of Newcastle-under-Lyme. [25] In October 2015, he featured in an episode of the BBC television programme Songs of Praise . [26]

Baldwin was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2019 New Year Honours "For services to the community in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire". [27]

Related Research Articles

Stoke-on-Trent City and unitary authority in England

Stoke-on-Trent is a city and unitary authority area in Staffordshire, England, with an area of 36 square miles (93 km2). In 2019, the city had an estimated population of 256,375. It is the largest settlement in Staffordshire.

Stoke City F.C. Association football club

Stoke City Football Club is an English professional football club based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Founded as Stoke Ramblers in 1863, the club changed its name to Stoke Football Club in 1878 and then to Stoke City in 1925 after Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status. Stoke were one of the twelve founding members of the Football League in 1888. The team competes in the Championship, the second tier of English football.

Newcastle-under-Lyme Human settlement in England

Newcastle-under-Lyme is a market town in Staffordshire, England. At the 2011 census it had a population of 75,082. It is part of the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme, which had a population of 128,264 in 2016, up from 123,800 in the 2011 Census.

Keele University

Keele University, officially known as the University of Keele, is a public research university in Keele, approximately 3 miles from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England. Keele was granted university status by Royal Charter in 1962 and was founded in 1949 as the University College of North Staffordshire.

Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme Place in England

The Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme is a local government district with borough status in Staffordshire, England.

Luigi "Lou" Macari is a Scottish former footballer and manager. He began his playing career at Celtic where he was one of the Quality Street Gang, the outstanding reserve team that emerged in the late 1960s that also included Kenny Dalglish and Danny McGrain. He is best known for his time at Manchester United, where he played over 400 games. He helped them win promotion back to the First Division and then played in their FA Cup win of 1977. He then finished his playing career at Swindon Town.

Keele Human settlement in England

Keele is a village and civil parish in northern Staffordshire, England. It is approximately three miles (5 km) west of Newcastle-under-Lyme, and is close to the village of Silverdale. Keele lies on the A53 road from Newcastle-under-Lyme to Market Drayton and Shrewsbury. The village is the location of Keele University and Keele Services, a motorway service area on the M6.

Toby Jones British actor

Tobias Edward Heslewood Jones is an English film and television actor.

Danny Pugh

Daniel Adam Pugh is an English professional football coach and former player who is now a first-team coach at Port Vale.

Noel Blake

Noel Lloyd George Blake is a former professional footballer and current coach. He was formerly the head coach of the England national under-19 football team. He played in the Football League for Aston Villa, Shrewsbury Town, Birmingham City, Portsmouth, Leeds United, Stoke City, Bradford City and Exeter City, and in the Scottish Football League for Dundee.

Peter Coates is an English businessman, the co-founder of bet365, and the chairman of Stoke City Football Club. He has been listed as the 25th-richest person in British football. He founded Stadia Catering in the 1960s and Signal Radio in 1983.

Joe Allen Welsh footballer

Joseph Michael Allen is a Welsh professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Championship club Stoke City and the Welsh national team.

The City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College is a mixed sixth form college on Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent. It opened its new building on Leek Road in September 2010 having previously been located on Victoria Road, Fenton. The college is also known as Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College, and - prior to its relocation - Fenton Sixth Form College.

Jack Butland English association football player

Jack Butland is an English professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Premier League club Crystal Palace and the England national team.

2014–15 Premier League

The 2014–15 Premier League was the 23rd season of the Premier League, the top English professional league for association football clubs, since its establishment in 1992. The fixtures were announced on 18 June 2014. The season started on 16 August 2014 and concluded on 24 May 2015.


Marvellous is a British drama television film that was first broadcast on BBC Two on 25 September 2014. The 90-minute film, directed by Julian Farino and written by Peter Bowker, is about the life of Neil Baldwin, from Westlands, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

Neil Baldwin may refer to:

Gareth Snell British Labour politician

Gareth Craig Snell is a British Labour Co-operative politician, who entered Parliament as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Stoke-on-Trent Central at the 2017 Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election and served until his defeat in December 2019.


  1. 1 2 Baldwin, Neil (with Clarke, Malcolm) (2015). Marvellous . John Blake Publishing. p. 1. ISBN   978-1784186432.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. 1 2 Dickson, E Jane (25 September 2014). "Marvellous: Toby Jones plays Neil Baldwin in extraordinary real-life drama on BBC2". Radio Times . Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 "Stoke City: Former kit man Neil Baldwin receives honorary degree at Keele University". Stoke Sentinel . 16 July 2013. Archived from the original on 28 September 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Beckett, Francis (9 March 2010). "How Neil Baldwin became Keele University's mascot". The Guardian . Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  5. McCann, Jamie (16 August 2015). "Modest 'Mr Marvellous' Stoke City kit man unmoved by brush with fame". Sunday Express . Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 Palmer, Alun (26 September 2014). "The Marvellous life of Neil Baldwin – an incredible man who inspired a BBC movie". Daily Mirror . Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  7. "Clown and kit man: BBC film captures Neil 'Nello' Baldwin". BBC News . 30 May 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  8. Jones, Toby (10 May 2015). "When I played Neil Baldwin it changed my idea of what 'learning disability' means". The Guardian . Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  9. Simpson, Matt (30 September 2014). "Record numbers of Keele University students sign up for Neil Baldwin's Football Club after watching BBC's Marvellous". The Sentinel . Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  10. Match programme
  11. "Nello celebrates fifty years at Keele" (PDF). Forever: Keele (5): 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2014.
  12. "Keele Honorary Degrees Summer 2013" (Press release). Keele University. 24 May 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  13. Simon, Jane (25 September 2014). "Marvellous – Toby Jones is outstanding portraying extraordinary life of Stoke City kit man Neil Baldwin". Daily Mirror . Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  14. Spinks, Martin (11 September 2014). "Stoke City: Lou Macari leads plaudits for Neil Baldwin film". Stoke Sentinel . Archived from the original on 26 September 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  15. "Clown and kit man: BBC film captures Neil 'Nello' Baldwin". BBC News . 30 May 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  16. Smith, Pete (26 September 2014). "Marvellous: Stoke City kit man Neil Baldwin really did dress up as a chicken". Stoke Sentinel . Archived from the original on 29 September 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  17. Jones, Laura (25 September 2014). "Marvellous: How Neil Baldwin became football's friend". The Offside Rule. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  18. Wollaston, Sam (26 September 2014). "Marvellous; Your Home in their Hands review – two Neil Baldwins meet real Lou Macari and real Gary Lineker". The Guardian . Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  19. Dickson, E Jane (25 September 2014). "Neil Baldwin: "Prince Edward is the best royal I've met – I just knocked on his door"". Radio Times . Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  20. Woodhouse, John (25 September 2014). "Marvellous: Stoke City kit man Neil Baldwin's biopic". Stoke Sentinel . Archived from the original on 25 September 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  21. "Ant and Dec repeat Bafta success". BBC News . 10 May 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  22. "Full list: BAFTA television award nominations announced". ITV News . 8 April 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  23. Baldwin, Neil (with Clarke, Malcolm) (2015). Marvellous . John Blake Publishing. ISBN   978-1784186432.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  24. "VIDEO: Neil Baldwin and Gordon Banks presented with the Freedom of Stoke-on-Trent". Stoke Sentinel . 22 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  25. "BBC Local Live: Stoke & Staffordshire on Thursday 26 November 2015". BBC Online . 26 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  26. "25/10/2015". Songs of Praise. 25 October 2015. BBC . Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  27. "No. 62507". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 29 December 2018. p. N26.