Thursday, 27 February 2014

Tales from the Wood

James Nash                        Photo: Sally Bavage
… Ireland Wood, to be precise.  Wednesday 26 February saw the last school in our current group of primary schools complete their writing of poems and stories with a performance assembly.  ‘LitFest: Surviving’ once again harnessed the talents of local writer/poet James Nash (“the best poet”, it said on the birthday card the year 6 youngsters joyfully presented to him).

We had excerpts read to us of some beginnings, some middles and some cliffhanger endings of the poems and stories they had crafted with the support and guidance of a professional artist for whom class teacher Adrienne Amos had nothing but the highest of praise.  We even had one of the stories that Heather had been inspired to write, along with others, for the Radio Two 500-word story competition.  

Their work was displayed across the whole of the assembly hall for all children in the school to see, a fantastic model for others to follow. Three whole afternoons of writing were not enough, said one youngster shyly and the young man in the wheelchair threw up his arms with joy when he had read his contribution out to the audience. The clay head used by James to inspire the budding writers worked its magic once again.     (Sally Bavage)

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Exhibition of historic photos of the wartime hospital.

Richard Wilcocks writes:
Photo by Theo Wilcocks
Photo by Sally Bavage
Thanks to all of you who climbed up the stairs to the Ridge Room in the Headingley Heart Centre yesterday evening. I hope to see you again at one of the LitFest events, soon. The exhibition is there for six weeks, so anybody using that room for a class or a meeting will get a chance to study the photos. Isn't that long 1917 panorama amazing! Have you noticed how nearly all the people in it (about five hundred of them) are either squinting, screwing up their eyes or looking down at their knees because the summer sun came out just as the shutter clicked. And why were five members of the kitchen staff, wearing white linen pancakes on their heads, placed right in front of the high-ups like Lt-Col Harry Littlewood and Matron-in-Chief Euphemia Innes?

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Story of Dorothy Wilkinson

Yorkshire Post feature today - a shortened (too shortened) version of the true story of Dorothy Wilkinson. The full version will appear in Stories from the War Hospital.  Go to this link -

This is Dorothy in 1917. Photo was taken in a studio shortly after she first became a VAD (nursing member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment) who was sent to work at Beckett Park.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Extraordinary poetry from Quarry Mount School

Sheila Chapman writes:
A lovely sunny morning, for a change, and some lovely poetry too from the children at Quarry Mount primary school.

We listened to seven poets, drawn from the various years of the school, with the youngest coming from year 2 and the oldest from Year 6. The children’s interpretation of the theme ‘surviving’ was original, perceptive and brimful of imagery and linguistic dexterity - what a joy to listen to in such an intimate atmosphere. Here are some comments from the poets
-        I liked working with James and writing a poem. I liked working with all the other children as well ...
-        I liked working with James because he gave me good ideas and helped me.
-        I enjoyed the whole experience and working with the head and James, I would love this to happen again.
Each child could invite some friends to listen to them and there were also parents and teachers in the audience. Here are some of the comments from the audience
From children
-        It was all grown up and interesting and cool.
-        I thought it was very interesting and it was very emotional. They should do it more often.
-        I think the poems were extraordinary. They should do this more often.
-        In my opinion James gave them the power to be brave. I wish you can do it more often.
-        I think we should do this more often listening to creative people.

From teachers
-        This was a very special opportunity for the writers to share their work and the invited audience to hear such emotive poetry. A really valuable experience for all involved.
 Karine Hendley - Headteacher
-        A wonderful event – 3 weeks of quality work. The depth of work was first-rate. A great creative and learning process for the pupils – thanks to James and Headingley LitFest. Andrew Howdle – Year 5 teacher
-        Standard of writing and reading brilliant. Extremely moving. Great to see profile of poetry raised within school. The children very proud of their work.
Lynne Blackwood
From parents
·       It is very good to carry on, this will give children confidence and improve their skills.
·       Fabulous I thoroughly enjoyed the poetry and was pleasantly surprised at the maturity in the children’s writings. Amazing effort. Thank you James.

Thank you from Quarry Mount for such a wonderful morning

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Big and green

The printed version of this year's LitFest brochure - twenty pages long - has arrived. If you can help by distributing or 'placing' it, get in touch. If you are in Headingley at the Farmers' Market this coming Saturday (8 February) you will see some rain-lashed people giving it out. Ask for a fat handful if you can use it.