Journalists moonlighting as soap stars, map history from a major insurer, a director of private clients braving Arctic temperatures and a very clever campaign. What has the insurance industry been up to of late? You heard it here first…

Hemsley stars in Emmerdale 

Soap fans may have spotted freelance journalist Trevor Hemsley playing cameo roles on the second longest running UK soap, Emmerdale. He’s appeared in the soap across the past five years in a series of minor roles.

But his acting career doesn’t stop there. Over the past six years, Hemsley has also had major roles in plays at the Hebden Bridge Little Theatre in West Yorkshire. His most recent part was playing a co-male lead in Noel Coward’s Hay Fever in March 2024.

He used to be a semi-professional stand-up comedian too, picking up a national award at the Leicester Comedy Festival in 2015.

clapper board blue

Credit: Getty

Aviva maps out history

Insurer Aviva is inviting people to help map entries from historical policy registers using a new digital tool, developed with Cambridge University. The original documents date back to the Hand in Hand Fire and Life Insurance Society – the oldest of Aviva’s heritage firms – with policy registers dating as far back as 1696.

Mapping out these historic policies could help provide a better picture of how London and the insurance sector has evolved.

The insurer aims to make the completed maps available to the public soon.

vintage UK map

Credit: Getty 

Clever campaigning

In April 2024, the Insurance Times editorial team received a letter from specialist insurer Hiscox. At first glance, the letter would appear to be tampered with because it sported a huge hole ripped into the back, exposing part of the contents.

However, this stint was all part of the next phase of a clever brand campaign dubbed the ”most disastrous campaign ever” by the insurer. It aimed to highlight the threat of data leaks. 

Hiscox most disaster

Credit: Insurance Times 

Brrrr-oker chilling

Michael Gregson, director of private clients at Blackford Group, will be braving Arctic temperatures of minus 30 degrees to embark on a three-day, 65km trek to raise money for children’s cancer charity It’s Good to Give.

He will depart from Finland on 6 February 2025, which has previously recorded the lowest temperature ever at minus 45 degrees. He is aiming to raise £10,000 for completing the challenge, where he will also pull a sled containing his tent and supplies.

Gregson will be preparing for the trek by strength training, spending time in Glasgow’s cold chamber – which can reach minus 130 degrees – and trekking along Scotland’s beaches.

Michael Gregson of Blackford insurance 1

Credit: Jeff Holmes 



The Speculator 

In May 2024, Direct Line Group (DLG) announced three senior appointments to help the insurer implement its new strategy.


The three appointees include Craig Thornton, managing director for home and growth, Martin Milliner, managing director of claims, and Hugh Hessing, chief operating officer. All the new hires will report to DLG’s chief executive, Adam Winslow. 

The announcement followed DLG reporting an operating loss of £189.5m in the 12 months to 31 December 2023. 

In addition, the insurer conducted a review to scope out opportunities across the value chain. It noted a “significant opportunity to remove at least £100m of costs by [the] end of 2025 on a run-rate annualised basis”. 

The new appointees will be key in delivering DLG’s new strategy, but how they settle in and help deliver DLG’s strategy is yet to be seen.