The Broughton Hall Children’s Literature Festival to join Yorkshire’s literary calendar
- Credit: Archant
Trevor Wilson believes reading can help boost children’s wellbeing which is why he is launching a new literature festival for young people. Robert Beaumont finds out more.
Most parts of the country these days have some kind of literary celebration and Yorkshire is no exception – there are at least half a dozen literary festivals each year including the world-class crime writing event, the Theakston Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.
But there is a new and what promises to be a very different literary festival now being planned for the autumn which celebrates all kinds of writing exclusively for children. The aim of the festival to be held in the grounds of Broughton Hall, Skipton is to put Yorkshire at the heart of children’s literature in the UK and to make a genuine difference to children’s lives in local schools.
‘I believe that there is a strong link between learning to enjoy reading at a young age and mental wellbeing,’ said festival founder Trevor Wilson. ‘The pressure on children today is immense and that takes an inevitable toll on their mental health.
‘With this in mind, we have partnered with one of the UK’s leading mental health charities in the UK - The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. The trust supports training programmes for teachers across the country in how to recognise mental health issues and how to address them.
‘With our funding, the festival will enable the trust, which has strong Yorkshire links, to expand its school programme specifically in the Yorkshire region,’ he added.
Trevor Wilson, originally from Oakworth, West Yorkshire, a publisher of children’s books and organiser of author visits to schools across the UK and abroad, has also been a teacher. His first teaching job was at Shadwell Middle School in Leeds before he moved to the Bahamas in 1975 to teach physical education and maths at the R G M Bailey High School in Nassau.
‘I loved it. My childhood sweetheart Catherine, who was also a teacher, joined me the following year after we were married. It was a blissful time and I represented the Bahamas at squash and rugby union, enabling me to call myself a double sports international,’ he joked. ‘Even though there wasn’t amazing competition, I’m still proud of that.’
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In 1979 Trevor and Catherine moved to the Cayman Islands. Other teaching jobs and two children, Sarah and Jenny, followed, but the lure of Yorkshire was too great and in 1988 they returned home, with Trevor moving into the private teaching sector, first at Belmont Grosvenor, near Harrogate, then at Malsis Hall, near Skipton, where he became deputy head, and then at Westville House School in Ilkley before retiring in 2005.
Since then Trevor has been driven by his love of children’s literature, founding both a flourishing publishing company, Caboodle Books and Authors Abroad, both based in Silsden. ‘It was a natural progression for me to launch a children’s literature festival in Yorkshire,’ said Trevor. ‘We have a host of fabulous children’s authors on our books (no pun intended), and Authors Abroad is the largest provider of author, poet, storyteller and illustrator visits to schools throughout the UK.’
Although the festival isn’t being held until late September, the hard work has already begun. ‘We are in meetings with various interested parties to secure a good sponsorship base and also talking to a number of publishers to attract big names from the world of children’s literature. On this front we are almost there and look forward to announcing our exciting line-up next month. We also have some imaginative marketing opportunities, which will be revealed shortly.
‘A key component of the festival will be visits by well known authors to schools in North and West Yorkshire and Lancashire. We are planning to have 50 authors and poets visiting 150 schools in the local community, which will be a wonderful experience for the children. The festival structure will be two days working in schools and two days performing at Broughton Hall, one of Yorkshire’s most picturesque venues.
‘I cannot stress enough how important it is to us to be supporting the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust (cwmt.org.uk). Mental health issues are sadly prevalent in young children these days, with cyber bullying rife. We have seen a dramatic increase recently in schools experiencing mental health issues associated with exam stress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and peer group pressure.
‘We believe that a love of reading has a very positive effect on children’s mental well-being, building confidence and self-esteem and developing empathy. A well-read child has every chance of being a happy child.
The benefits of our festival will be immense, said Trevor, not just for children’s literature across the UK, but in particular for Yorkshire. ‘It will place Skipton and the surrounding area at the heart of children’s literature in the UK; it supports a wonderful award-winning charity; it has immense benefits for the local schools and local community and, above all, it will be fun!’ he added.
Trevor’s top five
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – I’ve read it a million times to my two daughters when they were little and loved acting out the story.
George’s Marvellous Medicine – my favourite Roald Dahl book with wonderful ‘gory bits’.
A Kestrel for a Knave (KES) - Barry Hines summed up the era in which I was brought up in the North. I loved the film and particularly the football scene with the sports master playing Bobbie Charlton - very down to earth and beautifully written.
Kensuke’s Kingdom – this is a great adventure story with a modern-day Robinson Crusoe. Michael Morpurgo is one of the best children’s writers of all time.
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens, my favourite classic of all time, published in 1843 and is still as fresh and relevant to today as when it was first written.
The Broughton Hall Children’s Literature Festival will run from Thursday September 27th to Sunday September 30th. For further details, please contact Trevor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01535 656015 ext 9855 or 07885 279519