Fantastic Festival is an inspiration for all ages

CREATIVE minds of all ages came together for the second Saddleworth Literary Festival.


Pam Byrne, Mayor of Oldham Shadab Qumer, his daughter Fiza Shadab, Joe Wheeler

The event saw a host of best-selling authors, playwrights, poets, writers and literary agents gather at Saddleworth School in Uppermill for the two-day event, sharing their work through talks, readings and workshops.

Special guest the Mayor of Oldham Cllr Shadab Qumer officially opened the event with his daughter Fiza Shadab, who received a bouquet of flowers from the organising committee.

Local councillor and one of the organisers, Pam Byrne, led them on a tour of the festival as they spoke to guests and pupils who were helping throughout the weekend.

Cllr Qumer said: “It is absolutely amazing to see the number of local authors and writers we have in Saddleworth and Oldham.

“It is only right and just that we celebrate their achievements and the work they do.”


Phaedra Patrick presenting awards to local school children

Local poets and authors included Allan Graham, Barbara Hegab, Phaedra Patrick, Andrew Oldham, Lisa Wroe and Angela Blythe, while TV actor John Henshaw was patron of the event.

He said: “This is a festival that the schools and the community have been waiting for and will definitely become a regular calendar event. Well done to all concerned.”

There were also special interviews as Joe Wheeler, former Saddleworth School Head Hoy, spoke to BBC Radio Manchester DJ Mike Sweeney and local author Jan Needle.

Local schoolchildren also got involved through a range of competitions and activities over the weekend, with some receiving prizes on stage for their literary work.

The Dovestone Learning Partnership Poetry Competition was contested by over 300 children, with winners receiving their prizes from best-selling author Phaedra Patrick.


Barbara Hegab, author Joanne Lees, Ryan Barnes, Graham Unsworth

Winners included: Senior School: Darci Knox of Saddleworth School for her poem ‘Chrysalism’; Primary School: 1st – Miranda Lowe of Delph Primary School for her poem ‘Bit by Bit’; 2nd – Isabel Johnson of Diggle Primary School for her poem ‘Minotaur’; 3rd – Theo Tremayne-Ryan of St. Agnes Primary School for his poem ‘The Waves Mystery’.

And there was a performance by Funky Fitness and Fun – a group for adults with additional needs – as they brought to life ‘Policeman Pete and Maisie the Calf’ by Barbara Hegab.

Barbara, who was one of the festival organisers, said: “Overall it was a great weekend and I’m sure that all those who took time out to join us would vouch for that.

“The feedback has been great. It was a bit quiet on the Saturday but we more than made up for that on the Sunday.

“For me, the highlight was Funky Fitness and their performance of ‘Policeman Pete and Maisie the Calf’ – they were magnificent and Carita Smith is an angel!”


Policeman Pete books on display

Founder of the festival, poet Allan Graham, commented: “This is what I envisaged when I first thought of the festival – a packed school hall and the involvement of local schools, children and the community.

“This festival is a catalyst for all of these children. It will lure them away from computers and mobile phones and inspire them to pick up pen and paper and nurture their creativity.

“We could not run this festival without the generosity and goodwill of all of the guests, the local newspapers, the schools and sponsors.

“I would also like to thank Year 11 pupil Ryan Barnes for creating the website and overseeing the sound and vision during the festival and Barbara Hegab and Joanne Lees for giving up their time to be involved in the organising committee.”

The next Saddleworth Literary Festival is planned to take place at Saddleworth School on the weekend of April 6-7, 2019.

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