Love of words shared with young

September 02 2017
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ESTABLISHED 25 years ago, the main aim of Wells Festival of Literature was always to provide an opportunity for people to hear and meet a wide variety of authors and to promote the love of words and reading.

But it is only in the last five years that the committee – run entirely by volunteers – has attracted sufficient sponsorship to enable them to commit substantial sums to schools in the area in a variety of different ways.

Each year during the festival, which this year runs from October 13-21, 200 primary school children are invited to an event in the Town Hall with a well-known children’s author. This year, the project has extended to Glastonbury, where another 200 children will listen to Ross Montgomery, Carnegie-nominated, Sunday Times ‘Top 100 Modern Children’s Classics’ and shortlisted for Costa and Branford Boase Awards.

The programme for 2017 includes bringing poet Tony Walsh to 21 different schools within Somerset. Joffre White, Steve Voake and rapper/poet Inja, the Two Steves enthralling performance authors, poet AF Harrold and storyteller and actor Chris Connaughton have enthused youngsters of all ages.

The Education Group has enabled schools to take part in the Shakespeare Schools’ Festival with a performance at the Theatre Royal in Bath and has paid for reading projects and books for the CILIP Carnegie Shadowing Scheme, the publication of books containing the winning entries of writing competitions and for Plays in the Playground, a series of performances, workshops and CPD training for two primary schools. Three years ago, the festival supported the launch of Beanstalk, the children’s reading charity, in the South West and through that, many volunteers are giving precious one-to-one time to reluctant readers, with astonishing results

All this plus a nine-day gorging on words from authors such as Nick Clegg, Andy Hamilton, Rebecca Fraser, Bp Tomlin, Daisy Goodwin, Fergal Keane and Hollie McNish. Details of these and all the speakers are on the website www.wellsfestivalofliterature.org.uk.

The 25th anniversary is being launched on September 29 when Simon Jenkins will talk about his favourite cathedral from inside his favourite cathedral.

Tickets can be purchased via the website and in person at The Bishop’s Palace. Lines are open for telephone booking (0300 201 0211) from Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to noon.