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Camden's own 'Ocean's Eleven' Background and Tour

Terry Ellis is the first to be featured twice on my Soul2Ink blog, not only am I an avid supporter of his writing but am also proud of the man he’s become. Stuck within a negative cycle Terry had found himself in trouble from an early age, nurtured into believing that to thieve and earn a living from crime was perfectly fine as long as you didn’t get caught. At a young age a brick missile split open his head, giving him concussion which changed his personality (and that’s most definitely a reality I can relate to). Such physical trauma can change us, for Terry he no longer felt pain and had no filter on certain emotions, such anger. This was catalyst to how a young boy’s life would manifest alongside the behaviour he had already learnt. Terry’s own mother took him shop lifting and ordered him through factory windows to pass out to her what she required from within in order to sell their loot at bingo—this concept worked for her as long as Terry didn’t get caught. Money, he managed to earn on his own criminal activities with mates wasn’t turned away back home either. Terry was under the care of a social worker and when he became too difficult to handle and had run out of chances with them his mother abandoned her son and left him at a children’s home where he’d get regular beatings from the offset.

All this happened before Terry was twelve years old.

Moving from one children’s institution to the next became a way of life—as did standing before a judge. Eventually Terry was forced into the countryside far from his beloved Camden. Ironically, among the country bumkins as he calls them (and I qualify as one of those) he settled down—but not until they accepted school wasn’t going to be a part of his routine. Unfortunately, it fell apart when Terry’s young girlfriend became pregnant and he had no choice but to move back to London, where he lived in a flat with lads much older than himself.

Its here he discovered dole money wasn’t enough and the glory of armed robbery was both encouraged and gave Terry an adrenaline lift. A lift he became addicted to, it seems. I know from my own experiences that you can never quite fulfil that first adrenaline hit for the trouble with that naturally produced chemical is that the first can never be repeated and you’re left forever chasing it. The risks need to be higher in order to reach you needs—its no different to other addictions and Terry has beaten those too.

I’ll not detail the criminality leading up the Verizon “job” or the various holidays at Her Majesty’s pleasure that Terry talks you through in his book, for I’d actually like you to read his book! Instead, I want to share a personal experience that will embed this story into my memory forever.

David Last, Donna Siggers and Terry Ellis outside the Verizon Building
(photo credits to Anna)
Buy Verizon here


Between Christmas 2021 and the New Year Dave and I spent time in London. At short notice we met up with Terry and his lovely partner, Anna for a cuppa. They whisked us of separately for slightly different tours before we met back up outside the Verizon building in Camden. Terry walked us around the vast building, sharing with us detailed explanations of how they planned and executed what became branded Camden’s own ‘Oceans Eleven’ robbery. This brazen act saw them walking away with an incredible £5m worth of data chips and £100m in data.

There were no guns involved. Just men in [fake] blue and their dogs.

One of the many things I like about Terry is that he doesn’t hide from his past—he owns it in a way that helps others find the right path. He found that for himself through a programme at Grendon Prison, his book on that was the first ever feature on the Soul2ink blog that you can read right here.

by Donna Siggers

Reflection on Mental Health and the Importance of Connections

Mental health awareness is hugely underrepresented. This blog either shares Britain’s history that sparks an interest for both Dave and, I or its about creatives that have gained my personal interest in one way or another and I’ve given them promotion in this space because I believe in the good they are doing—that they have broken through adversity (whatever and wherever that begun).

The bottom line is, wherever our paths lead us, whichever direction we choose—and it is a choice—its possible to make changes. Some of the stories I’ve shared show that however close to death we get, the consequences of survival mean there's a tough journey ahead before that survival means a worthwhile life again. Another harsh choice was for someone to live among the worst kind of folk inside a prison in order to come to terms with their own mind. This allowed them to move forward, to redeem their past and ultimately to break the cycle that would have meant returning to prison. This has given them opportunities to serve the community today, in their life going straight, to strive and to enjoy a crime free life. Adversity affects us differently and the healing process from it takes on differing forms. In order to fully understand each of these journeys, you would need to fully understand each person and their personal story, which I urge you to do.

My story is relatable to both these gents. Like the first, I was attacked but under different circumstances. I too could have died and now live with the consequences of having survived. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affected both of us, and I’m sure each of those journeys have differed—that just human nature. With regard to the second gent, who lived and had therapy with the worse the prison system could offer, I worked with similar individuals. I understand how difficult this process would have been for him, listening to them legitimise their actions—its horrific. I am talking of Darren Barden who survived a brutal knife attack in his home that he shares in his book, Let’s Skip to the Good Bits and of Terry Ellis whose book Living Amongst the Beasts conveys his time at Grendon Prison. Through our writing we have connected and shared our experiences of survival, mental health, adversity and triumph.

I’d not have met these two inspiring people had it not have been for my own adversity and fight for survival or my own journey into writing and publication. Nor would I have met singer and songwriter Levi Perry. Levi is, perhaps, the most inspiring lady with gutsy determination I’ve met. She too is a survivor and if I may quote a song title of hers, a ‘warrior’. I’ve blogged about her struggles but mainly about her rise towards success—which she is now enjoying. In Levi I’ve discovered a friend worth her weight in gold, one that carries me when my health declines and who I love for her generous heart.

I have some thanks to dish out, as its easy to gloss over those… so in general groups where I can, my family, Levi Perry, that fab group filled with folk like me with brain injuries, Stephen Rhoades Sheridan Thomas, London Crime, Bobbie Barker... thank you for checking up on me, making me laugh—keeping my head above water. You all rock—especially Levi who physically rocks it out!

I've one more post in this Mental Health series for October. I hope this one shows how connections can be made from different paths in life, how important those connections are and that mental health affects men and women alike. Take care and look after each other.

by Donna Siggers