Melissa Cooke in conversation with Frances Wimbush

M: What connected you to Repton Literary Festival?

F: I do read and I enjoy it ...slowly! Because I am such a very slow reader, I deliberately avoid book clubs. I have to say even though I’ve seen Facebook (I use it to access pictures of my grandchildren) and Gloriumptious, I’m slow with technology – my eyesight doesn’t help – so am not a member….. yet. A pretty hopeless case, really, for someone involved in the Literary festival!

I loved reading as a child (albeit including a fair number of Enid Blyton and pony books!) and loved being read to by my parents and at school...the story at the end of the school day was always a highlight.

Today I love so much of the children's literature I have enjoyed with my children and grandchildren…..both the classic and the new. I also feel it is vital for children to develop an enjoyment of books and reading - the magic of words, characters and imagination, before they become overwhelmed with what they have to do for school and further studies. This is why I became involved with the Repton Literary Festival (RLF).

M: Why did you volunteer?

F: When I first asked about what was available at the festival for children, the answer was 'nothing' so obviously, I could not help myself but sort this out. From small, but positive beginnings in the first year, we had a really successful Super Saturday last year with the children. The poet AF Harrold thoroughly entertained them, several Old Reptonians read favourite passages from Roald Dahl stories aloud, Lynne and Sarah masterminded all sorts of creative activities and the cosy book corner ’through the secret door’ proved very popular all day. One participant on the day, Anna, arrived with her own children’s book, ‘Sir Undercracker’ and worked her socks off entertaining the little ones. It was fun for everyone.

One family participated in all the sessions on Saturday and returned on Sunday morning wanting to do it all again!

M: What do you like reading?

F: As an adult, I enjoy biography and novels - historical and others but not sci-fi or horror, and have just finished a wonderful marathon about the Borgias by Sarah Dunant. I won’t rule out Facebook or Gloriumptious – I need to keep my mind open to progress.

M: What would you like for this year’s festival?

F: Just for it to happen….with lots of people, particularly families enjoying everything it has to offer – books, authors, speakers, music, art, events, meeting people. It feels especially important to appreciate these just now as we come through this pandemic period

M: Do you have a lasting impression of RLF 2019?

F: Probably the very infectious giggles of a friend’s granddaughter as she watched /listened to AF Harrold against the gorgeous backdrop of lots of coloured umbrellas. (We didn't know when we were planning how relevant umbrellas would be during the weekend).

I also thoroughly enjoyed the Old Reptonian forum with Guy, Nick, George and Blair. The format worked well and the dialogue flowed in a very easy manner between all four of them. That said, I didn't have time to go to much else, though there were many events that appealed.

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