S. Anselm's

A full boarding and day school for boys and girls from Nursery to 16

S. Anselm's at the Hay Festival 2014

S. Anselm's at the Hay Festival 2014

Hay Festival Trip 2014 

We are pleased to report that there was no repeat of the distressing scenes at The Hay Festival last year when the sun shone on our tents continually and traumatised pupils had to apply sunscreen to themselves. This year saw us return to proper British-style camping: rain, some light flooding and a liberal coating of thin brown mud over tents, equipment and children.  

Our convoy of minibuses arrived at our camp site at tea-time on Friday to discover that Julie and Mrs Carr had already pitched the school's marquee and set up the kitchen and dining areas. We are informed that this involved Julie climbing on the roof of her van as it was driven through the marquee. Sadly no photographic evidence of this remarkable event exists. However, it raised our spirits to see that our camp was taking shape. 

To our delight, the pupils set to it and pitched the rest of the tents in the rain with everyone helping out and quite a few pupils showing impressive leadership and initiative. Within the hour, the camp was set up and all thirty two pupils and four staff were sitting around a long table under the marquee eating fish and chips.



We called it a night fairly early on Friday as we were all tired and we wanted fully to enjoy the sound of wet Welsh rain pounding onto the wet canvas of our tents. 

Saturday morning dawned earlier than some of us might have wished, but by then Julie had already set up breakfast, of course. The rain had stopped, so we used the time to explore the campsite and to put the finishing touches to camp. However, it was the festival that pupils were really excited about and we were there by 10.00 for our first events of the weekend. We were given exclusive use of a covered but taped-off area in the middle of the festival site as our rest and rallying point (much to the bemusement of the other festival goers who thought we must be some kind of art installation). The main thing was that we were out of the rain and from this dry area pupils set off for the events they had chosen.

Arvon Foundation Reunion 

The first event of the morning involved five of us going to see Tiffany Murray in conversation with Emma Healey. Tiffany, who was one of our creative writing tutors on our Arvon Foundation residential course back in January, spotted us as we came in and swept off the stage to hug the children. She even remembered their names. She also referred enthusiastically to our pupils during her talk when asked about the value of creative writing courses. We felt that we had made a bit of a splash at Hay at this point.

Whilst this was happening, seventeen pupils were being entertained by Cressida Cowell, author of the 'How to Train Your Dragon' series of novels. The rest of the group were at a talk given by Robert Rigby discussing his new novel 'The Eagle Trail' or helping Kipper to celebrate his birthday.

Next up was an inspirational talk by 'The Fonz'. Actor Henry Winkler discussed his life-long battle with dyslexia and his children's books with their dyslexic hero Hank. These are being made into a new series by CBBC and he also showed us his CBE, awarded for his charitable work raising awareness about dyslexia. At the same time, five pupils went to hear Holly Godberg Sloan discussing her new novel 'Counting by 7s', which is already attracting a cult following.

The hit book from our Book Fair last term was 'Tape' by Steve Camden. This book has been eagerly passed from pupil to pupil ever since. It was no surprise, therefore, that his talks were popular amongst our pupils. Fifteen pupils went to his workshop on rhyming and poetry writing where he appeared as his alter-ego Polarbear. Later on, sixteen pupils went to hear him talk about 'Tape'. Other popular talks on Saturday were: 'The Last Viking Adventure', attended by ten pupils and a talk by Lauren Child, creator of 'Charlie and Lola', which attracted nine pupils.





On Saturday evening we returned to camp to find parents James and Annabel Lewis helping Julie behind the barbecue and supper already set out. The parents who came on the trip really helped to make it a success and, as well as those already mentioned, we would like to thank Sarah Williams, Tania Potter and Pam Hattersley for their help.

After supper, the pupils were happy to have a relatively early night and the chance to read the books they had bought during the day. These had been bought at the festival book shop and most pupils had had their books signed by the books author, which was generally agreed to be an exciting improvement on Amazon. Teachers Mrs Whawell, Mrs Dinnigan and Mr Carr also had time to catch their breath and have a quiet read by the camp fire. The parents and Julie got lost at this point but were offered shelter by The Groucho Club, which sets up - temporarily - at Hay during the festival.  Apparently, The Groucho Club made them drink cocktails and eat a lovely meal before sending them back to the campsite.




Sunday morning was pretty dry apart from the odd flurry of rain. We feasted on bacon rolls before striking camp. Once again, we were astonished by the speed with which pupils took down the tents and packed up the minibuses. Several pupils stood out due to the initiative they showed but all pupils did their fair share of the work without having to be asked and this can do attitude helped to make the trip so successful.

At 10.00, twenty pupils went to see Liz Pichon, creator of the 'Tom Gates' novels. This was many pupils favourite talk. Having explained how, as a dyslexic child, she had doodled her way through school, she soon had the whole audience doodling a page in the style of her novels. The interactive talks, like this one, really engaged our pupils.

Next up, at 11.30, was the star turn of the weekend, Jacqueline Wilson. All of the girls went to hear her talk. Timetabled the same time was a boy-friendly talk 'Geeks, Gadgets and Sci-Fi'. In-between these events, the Hay Festival photographers snapped some of our boys reading quietly as they waited (something our pupils had done all weekend to the surprise and admiration of a number of festival goers who congratulated us on their attitude) and this picture was posted on the festival's Facebook page.

Back at the campsite, all had been packed away and all that was left to do was to have the minibuses towed out of the mud. That done, we set off back to Bakewell. It was only when we traipsed into MacDonald's in Shrewsbury for a late lunch on the way back that we realised how muddy we all were. The buses were quiet on the drive back. Pupils were mostly reading the books they had bought and this is, perhaps, a fitting end to the weekend which was such a celebration of books and reading.



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