David McAndrew’s book launch

David McAndrew

The ballroom of Ripon Spa Hotel was packed for the launch of long term RWG member David’s newly published book of poems, Gestures from Fragments. Introduced by Ken Ridley, who adjudicated our Hint of History competition a few years ago, David gave thanks for all the help and support that he’d received along the way, especially from the ‘eagle eyes’ of RWG’s very own Elizabeth.

David McAndrew book

Supported by fellow poet and former colleague Paul Mills, who read some of his own poems, and a couple of highly talented guitarists, David gave everyone an evening to remember. It was particularly moving that his sons also read from the new book, which contained a moving tribute to their late mother.

Fun and games with Steve Hartley


There’s a great deal more to Mancunian writer Steve Hartley than his big knickers, but I suspect that the memory of those will remain in the minds of RWG members for a very long time. They were his pièce de résistance at the end of a very interesting and amusing talk about his struggles and successes. Best known perhaps for his ‘Danny Baker’ and ‘Oliver Fibbs’ series, Steve works tirelessly to promote children’s literature.


Unfortunately, there was a technical hitch and the photographs of RWG members joining Steve inside the knickers – which are relevant to his writing – failed to materialise. However, much more information about them and other aspects of Steve’s highly original output can be found at www.stevehartley.net.

Trophy awarded at last and 6 objects displayed


Anna was present this evening to receive her trophy and read out her winning entry for the ‘Blast From The Past’ competition. For details, scroll down to the report of the previous meeting.


The 6 objects to inspire our writing for 26th May are as follows: a port bottle, a banana, a peppermint breath refresher spray, an otter, a set of screwdrivers and a slide rule. Good luck!

Adjudication of ‘Blast From The Past’


Gary Booth, an English teacher for 35 years, was the adjudicator this time round and began by telling us that he was judging the twelve entries as a reader rather than a writer. In addition, he had focused on the quality of the writing rather than the aspect of history chosen and tried to minimise the influence of his personal interests. He preferred the pieces with a personal angle but considered them all worthy of publication.

Gary then turned to the individual entries in random order and gave comments on each. The winners were as follows:

1st ‘Musical Notation’ by Anna Greenwood: reflections on how this has allowed musicians to connect across the centuries

2nd ‘A Most Remarkable Woman’ by Joe Peters:a potted biography of 19th century Dutch woman Jeanne Merkus

3rd ‘The Wonder of Woolworths’ by Maggie Cobbett: an account of a teenage schoolgirl’s Saturday job

Anna wasn’t present to receive the trophy, but Joe and Maggie are pictured above with Gary. Jan Maltby thanked Gary for an outstanding adjudication and presented him with a token of appreciation from the Group.

Cathy on the radio!

Our very own Cathy Grimmer has taken part in an episode of ‘The Kitchen Cabinet’ on Radio 4. It’s available for the next 28 days at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0501jlz

Adjudication of the Poetry Competition


We were delighted to welcome York based poet Alan Gillott, joint proprietor of Stairwell Books small press and co-host of The Spoken Word, as our adjudicator.

Alan began by making some general points about what makes a good poem and recommended testing its effectiveness by reading it out loud. Rhythm is important. Rhymes, if used, stand out and should, therefore, always be intentional. A word with more than one meaning depending on how it is pronounced – he gave ‘bow’ as an example – can cause confusion in the mind of the reader. Alan also heavily discouraged the use of similes.

There were more than a dozen entries to the competition this time around and Alan commented on each poem individually before announcing the results. With so many different themes and styles to choose from, his task had been a difficult one, but he awarded the trophy to Cathy Grimmer for Kazakhstan Wedding, a colourful and moving account of a stolen bride’s forced transition from childhood to womanhood. Caroline Slator took second place with He’s Gone and David McAndrew came third with Golden Wedding.

There was time to listen to all the entries before we broke for refreshments, after which Alan was invited to read a selection of his own poems and Jan expressed thanks from the Chair on behalf of the Group.

Christmas Event 2014

Members and guests sat down to a three course meal in The Old Deanery, with plenty of fun and games to occupy us in between courses.
Joe presented the President’s Cup to Susan Perkins and said that the result had been a close one this year with Cathy and Caroline not far behind.
We scratched our heads over the Chair’s Christmas Challenge.
Members had been asked to compose Christmas limericks or other poems to suit the occasion.
A ‘Who Am I’ game caused considerable hilarity. The ‘volunteers’ in the masks did eventually work out who they were supposed to be – Charlie Chaplin, Carmen Miranda, David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Clint Eastwood …

The proceedings ended with a rousing chorus of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ and everyone having a dip into Santa’s sack.

For more photographs, see below. Apologies for the quality, but lighting conditions weren’t ideal for Admin’s camera phone!

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Our friendly group meets once a fortnight in the Old Deanery on Minstergate, opposite Ripon Cathedral and is always open to new members from the Ripon area and beyond. Whether your interest is in poetry or prose, novels, short stories, plays, wacky humour, a more analytical style of writing, or just listening for the time being, you're very welcome.

Contact us: riponwritersgroup@gmail.com

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