Wednesday, 27 June 2012

‘A Virtual Toast’

I’m thrilled to be one of the guest bloggers at the 19th Hebden Bridge Arts Festival. I’m especially honoured as, despite being from West Yorkshire, I’m not a ‘Hebdonian’ and so probably considered something of an ‘outsider’. I’ve noticed there are many talented acts this year both from inside and outside of the region. This year, I’m going to be concentrating on the ‘outsiders’. I’m writing this while on a short family holiday to Wales. We drove through hours of driving rain and appalling traffic to an area of Wales which had recently suffered from flash floods. Fortunately the area has since recovered. But when we arrived, we were shocked to hear how badly Hebden Bridge had been hit. I felt awful - for the people, their homes and their businesses, and most of all hoped the damage had been limited. My next thought was: what about the festival? I realised that many volunteers had worked extremely hard to make the festival happen, putting in their time and effort throughout the year. I wondered whether it would still go ahead, or was the damage just too great to repair in such a short time? After reading a series of reports, I was happy to learn how the people rallied round and were working hard to repair the damage. In fact every report contained a similar message, namely, how strong the sense of community was in Hebden Bridge and its surroundings. And it is clearly this prevailing community spirit that makes fantastic events such as the Arts Festival possible. As for the festival itself, I’m very much looking forward to the spoken word and music events this year. As an aspiring writer, I’ll be trying to attend as many as I can, especially the events featuring novelists, including the ‘New Blood’ talk, featuring five newly-published authors. As a seasoned festival/gig goer I’m looking forward to seeing several talented female singer/songwriters, including the world-famous Becky Unthank. I’m also excited about seeing the street theatre and visiting the open gardens with my young family. And so, before the fun begins, I’d like to raise a (virtual) toast to the community spirit of Hebden Bridge and wish them all a highly successful festival this year!

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