Busy Weekend

Well, after a quiet few weeks working on my third All Teachers book (going along quite tastily now after a slow start) it’s been a whopper of a weekend.

This Saturday was The Ryedale Book Festival and was a most splendid affair it turned out to be following a huge amount of work by lots of volunteers. I was involved with two events: Lunch with Three Authors and The P-Factor Grand Final.

The lunch was a genteel affair at the very good Old Lodge Hotel in Malton and it was good to meet several people who have read my books and obviously liked them! One couple came down from Catterick specially after seeing me perform the Oh-lympic Show in a school their in June.

The highlight of the day (and the whole festival for me), however, was the grand final of The P-Factor, the performance poetry competition for local primary schools which I devised and organised with the invaluable help of Sarah Tyson. Ten school were involved and each one got all their KS2 kids reading and selecting lots of poems to perform. They then had their own auditions to select two groups (of 2-4) to represent their school in the grand final yesterday.

The final was a magnificent success, held in the excellent Milton Rooms in Malton, with about 60 children performing on the stage in front of a huge audience. In fact the place was packed out with children, parents, teachers and visitors, all of whom enjoyed a great show. We based the event on the X-Factor and I was one of the judges along with two other authors and the Mayor of Norton, Di Keal. We were a LOT nicer than Simon Cowell and crew, and only marginally less glamorous. OK, I may have lied about that last bit.

The performances of the children on stage in front of hundreds of people were tremendous. The younger finalists (aged 7-9) went first and when the judges deliberated there was a three-way tie! But well done to St Mary’s, Malton who won the medals after much discussion. In the older category, ages 9-11, the standard was very good again, especially from two groups from Malton dressed as witches who performed the ‘Hubble bubble’ chant from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Both were magnificent but the judges awarded the prize to Malton CP in the end. Helmsley Primary deserved a special mention for their performances and Pickering Juniors were also very good. Thanks to everyone who took part.

One of the best parts of the show for me was that all 60 finalists took home a free book, donated by the book fair stall holders and local authors. Thank you. What a great way to encourage reading!

Poets Kate Fox and Alfie Crow entertain the crowd as the judges deliberate

The second lot of excitement came today as I took my wife and daughter to meet Miranda Hart in Sheffield before she did a huge book signing at the Meadowhall centre. Miranda has the same publishing group as I do, Hodder, and they kindly arranged for this special surprise and what a treat it was – such fun! Miranda is great fun, very tall, and had some lovely kind words to say to Naomi who has had an illness for the past 7 years. Thanks to the sales and publicity people at Hodder who arranged this.

The lovely Miranda Hart with the lovely Naomi

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