Chairman excited as festival gets set to celebrate 25th anniversary

July 09 2017
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THE new chairman of one of the longest-running literature festivals in the country is very excited about its 25th anniversary which takes place this year.

Richard Manning says that plans for the celebration of the Wells Festival of Literature are well advanced.

The festival has grown from small beginnings 25 years ago, when two friends attended the Cheltenham Literary Festival, and decided to replicate it in England’s smallest city. It is now a thriving and financially secure annual event with an audience of around 5,000 and many generous sponsors. The vision is unchanged - to continue to attract brilliant authors and to entertain and educate audiences in equal measure.

As the number of sponsors has increased, the Education Group has been able to support a wider range of schools with visits from famous authors and creative workshops throughout the year, and the largest ever number of primary school children will be enthralled by a well-known writer, under one roof. The children’s literacy charity Beanstalk has also benefited from support, helping it to launch in the South West and supplying volunteers who work on a one-to-one basis with reluctant readers.

“When I became involved with the Wells Festival of Literature a few years ago, it was as someone who had attended many talks over the years, but with little idea of the scope and scale of the effort required to make it all work," said Richard.

"I am now under no illusions about just how much energy, enthusiasm and creativity so many people put into all aspects of the festival's activities, including its charitable endeavours to encourage reading and literacy in schools around Wells. The event is run by an entirely voluntary committee.”

The Festival of Literature will take place from October 13-21 in a marquee in the grounds ofThe Bishop's Palace. It will largely follow the format of previous years, with a mix of authors from across many different genres.

“It has been a huge learning experience for me in this my first year as chairman and I would like to thank all of our many volunteers who give up so much of their time to make the festival the success it is,” said Richard.

“We have a friendly and professional ethos and we all love books. I anticipate that we have a secure platform to do so over the next 25 years."