In a departure from previous years, our main festive celebration was held after Christmas. The Deanery provided a delicious lunch, there was plenty of time to relax and enjoy chat and laughter.
Everyone attempted the Chairman’s Challenge, which was a Shakespeare quiz in honour of the date. Susan Perkins won a small prize for the highest score.
Phil, Peter H and Sheila gave us their ‘party piece’, a famous Shakespearean speech brought up to date.
Everyone said they had enjoyed themselves. Considering that we all met just after 12.30 and didn’t start leaving until 3.30, that was probably true!
Click on the photos below to see them full size. Lack of clarity is due to less than ideal lighting conditions.
Quite an achievement! Ripon Writers’ Group owes its long existence to the inspiration of founder member Daphne Peters, seen here cutting the anniversary cake. Daphne described how the group had grown out of a Further Education class that she had run which, although doing well, had been axed after two and a bit years. She had been asked to continue running the class privately but did not want to. Starting a Group was the alternative suggested by one of the class members and made possible when another offered the use of her house for meetings. After building up cash reserves from subscriptions, meetings moved to hired venues two years later although there were always cost problems.
Fifteen current members attended the celebration and six sent apologies. Those who had known the Group over a long period of time shared their reminiscences and everyone was invited to contribute a personal vision of ‘the next 35 years’.
The splendid anniversary cake was baked by Ella Benigno and iced by current Chair Sheila Whitfield. In addition, Kathleen Atkinson provided an iced sponge.
Unable to be present at the adjudication of the 2017 Mini-Saga adjudication (see below), Maggie was delighted to receive the trophy from Phil this evening.
Now the first Ripon Poetry Festival is coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on how well it went for Ripon Writers’ Group.
First, a big thank you to everyone who contributed to our ‘showcase’ event this afternoon, especially to those members who were free to come and read out all our pieces. The wide range and differing styles of our poetic efforts seemed to go down well with the audience, as there really was something for everyone to enjoy – and they appeared to do so.
Last night some of us saw Elizabeth Spearman and David McAndrew in their guise of judges in the festival poetry competition. What an amazing range of work for us to listen to. The evening was full of happy, smiling faces, so well done with your choices, Elizabeth and David!
Today we saw David again alongside Ian Gouge, who along with Andy Croft were reading from their latest publications. It felt to me that the audience were responsive to the depths and nuances in David’s and Ian’s work, and hopefully would purchase some in order to study and reflect on it later, as it deserved.
Last but definitely not least, Anna’s talk about how she had compiled her ‘Rural Voices’ stories from Nidderdale was a delightful hour of dialects, old photographs and Dales characters reminiscing. Anna quoted something to us during her talk- ‘stories connect us, they build bridges’. With her oral history compilation, she has undoubtedly provided us with a bridge that will take us back in time, so that ‘times past’ will not be ‘times forgotten’.
Thank you all for your efforts over this weekend. I feel very proud to be your Chair!
Jill Freeman began by explaining that she was there because the Competition trophy had been donated by her mother. Unlike many in her family she was not a writer herself but more of a story teller in the oral tradition. She went on to detail what she was looking for in her adjudication, concluding by summarising her thoughts in a mini saga of her own.
After the introduction Jill gave her individual comments on the nine competition entries and announced the results as follows:
• Joint Second – Phil Cook with ‘Maybe or Maybe not’ and Carol Mayer with ‘Early Electric? Save Your Breath’
• Winner – Maggie Cobbett with ‘Couple Separated by Heartless Social Workers after Sixty Years Together’
In Maggie’s absence Jill was unable to present the trophy but a suitable picture of her with the runners up was taken for the website.
The nine entries were then read as follows:
• Carol – ‘Early Electric? Save Your Breath’ – a reflection on the fact that successful electric traction predates diesel
• Phil – ‘Maybe or Maybe not’ – a punning reflection on the current uncertainties in the UK political scene
• Maggie (read by Sheila in Maggie’s absence) – ‘Couple Separated By Heartless Social Workers after Sixty Years Together’ – a civic dignitary responding to the newspaper headline of the title gets the opposite response to that expected when he arranges for the couple to be reunited
• Claire – ‘Metamorphose’ – a reflection on the life cycle of an insect
• Caroline – ‘Heart’s Desire’ – the breakfast-time reflections of an unhappy king
• Julie – ‘The Morning After the Night Before’ – a woman who has seduced one of her staff reminds him sexily that he mustn’t be late for work
• Janet – ‘The Reluctant Muse or Love’s Labours Lost’ – a dialogue in which a woman refuses The Bard’s advances
• Sheila – ‘Going Bye’ – a golfer misses his wife’s funeral to play in a key competition match
• Peter H – ‘Worldchange’ – the impact of a caveman accidentally discovering fire
Jill then rounded off her adjudication by telling the story of a short story competition she tried to enter but was thwarted by not putting enough postage on the envelope.
Sheila expressed the Group’s thanks to Jill for her adjudication.
Five writers, five voices and five stories!
Amongst those taking part in this evening’s launch at the Ripon Spa Hotel were our very own Anna Greenwood and David McAndrew. Anna’s Engrained is a series of tales from different centuries, the common link being an ancient oak. David’s Men at Work was inspired by his recollections of a small engineering firm in 1950s Tyneside.
The five stories, described by Gill Edwards of the Little Ripon Bookshop as ‘A lively collection of fascinating characters and locations’, sprang from a creative writing class run by Andy Croft. All proceeds will go to the Ripon City of Sanctuary Group.
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