Big Thanks to Waitrose for £303 Sponsorship

photo of daisy pattern of green tokens seen instore

Waitrose’s popular green token scheme is a real asset to the local community

We are delighted to announce that the Chipping Sodbury branch of Waitrose has raised a grand total of £303 for us during February via its Community Matters scheme.  We are extremely grateful to them for their support and for their interest in the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival since its foundation three years ago.

Many thanks also to the Waitrose shoppers who kindly donated their green tokens as virtual donations to our cause.

The money from Waitrose will be used to pay for venue hire, thus directly benefiting the village venues that we are using, and helping to keep all the events free to attend for all our visitors. It will also cover some of the other running costs such as the provision of identification badges for authors and other speakers and for volunteers.

The 2017 Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival will take place on Saturday 22nd April, and you can find the full programme of events here to help you plan your day. 


Waitrose Community Matters Scheme to Support 2017 Lit Fest

We’re delighted to report that the Chipping Sodbury branch of Waitrose, which kindly co-sponsored the inaugural Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival back in 2015, will again be supporting us in 2017 via its highly-regarded Community Matters programme which every month shares £1,000 between three local causes.

View of supermarket across the car park

Chipping Sodbury Waitrose makes supermarket shopping a pleasure

How the Community Matters Programme Works

The Festival will be one of the beneficiaries of the scheme in February. At the end of each purchase at the till, shoppers are given a distinctive green token and invited to post it in a box for one of that month’s three causes. At the end of the month, the tokens for each caused are weighed separately, and the £1000 is split between the three causes in proportion to the number of tokens each has received.

The Waitrose Community Matters scheme thus supports 36 local organisations throughout each store’s catchment area each year, making a real and much appreciated difference to the resources and well-being of the local community it serves.

How The Festival Will Use the Donation

Every penny of the money raised will help fund the costs of staging the Festival and will help us keep all events and activities free for everyone to attend, including venue hire and print costs.

How You Can Help

So there’s an easy way to support the HU Lit Fest next month – just do your shopping at the lovely Chipping Sodbury branch of Waitrose, and post your token in our box there!

Collecting box in Waitrose

Waitrose’s fab Community Matters green token scheme in action when they first supported us for our inaugural festival in 2015

Huge thanks to Waitrose and to the Chipping Sodbury branch Community Matters manager Shirley Carmichael for their continuing support.

For more information about Waitrose’s Chipping Sodbury branch, including its opening hours, click here.


Programme of Readings Announced for the 2016 HULitFest

The programme of readings for the April 2016 Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival has been announced. These readings will take place in the peaceful setting of the Methodist Chapel, Back Street, to ensure even the softest spoken author will be audible.

This year, we’ve grouped the readings by theme, to provide a more satisfying and consistent experience for the audience. Each session of readings will last 50 minutes, and will start at 15 minutes past the hour, every hour from 10.15am until 4.15pm.

All the authors who are reading in each session will be there for its duration, and the session chair will bring them together to form a panel for questions to be taken from the audience at the end.

Here is the list of the sessions:

  • 10.15am Historical Fiction
  • 11.15am Short Stories and Flash Fiction
  • 12.15pm Contemporary Fiction #1
  • 1.15pm  Poetry
  • 2.15pm  Contemporary Fiction #2
  • 3.15pm  Non-Fiction
  • 4.15pm  Items Composed at the Festival

This programme has been carefully planned to complement the series of panel discussions taking place in The Fox, e.g. the Poetry readings will not clash with the discussion “What’s the Point of Poetry?”

Full details of who will be reading in each session are available on the April Festival page. 


Exciting New Programme for April 2016 Festival

Watercolour of Hawkesbury Monument

The Somerset Monument in Hawkesbury Upton

We’re pleased to announce our exciting new programme of events for the 2016 Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival.

The Festival will run all day on Saturday 23rd April (World Book Night) at two venues in the heart of the village – The Fox Inn and the Methodist Chapel. Events will include:

  • lively panel discussions on stimulating topics about books, writing and reading
  • themed reading events, each focusing on a specific genre
  • children’s workshops, storytelling and activities
  • writing workshops for adults

This year’s panel discussions, each led by a relevant specialist and comprising 4-6 authors, will be on the following topics:

  • Writing What You Know
    Chair: Jackie Kabler, TV reporter
  • How Much of ME Should There Be in a MEmoir?
    Chair: Caroline Sanderson, Associate Editor of The Bookseller
  • The Book of the Film vs the Film of the Book
    Chair: Andrew Lowe, film journalist
  • Historical Fiction Debate: My Era’s Better than Yours
    Chair: Lucienne Boyce, historical novelist and historian 
  • The Challenge of Writing About Difference
    Chair: Sarah Brown, psychologist 
  • After Nordic Noir, What’s the Next Big Thrill?
    Chair: Adam Baron, university lecturer 
  • Why Does Poetry Matter and What Can It Do That Prose Cannot?
    Chair: Dan Holloway, award-winning performance poet

The first of these events will start at 10.15am, with the next sessions following at 15 minutes past the hour, every hour, until 4.15pm. Each session will last 50 minutes to allow for people to come and go between sessions.

More details of the children’s activities and workshops will be announced shortly.

To keep up with the Festival plans as they’re announced, follow the blog, and you’ll receive each new announcement post in your email inbox. (To follow the blog, just click the blue rectangle, top right of the column to the right of this post.)

New for 2016 Festival: Jess the Goth Fairy

Jo and Jess with books

Jo and Jess at their book launch, November 2014 (Photo by John Anyon )

We are delighted to announce two new special guests for the 2016 Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival: Jo Allmond and Jess Hiles, the mother-and-daughter team responsible for the delightful Goth Fairy picture books, written to encourage children (and adults) to be more tolerant and understanding of those who are different.

They will be sharing their story with young audience members as part of the new Children’s Festival section.

All about Jess…

Jess Hiles is the inspiration for this book. Jess has learning and physical disabilities, yet has achieved so much. She is a National Special Olympic gold and silver medallist, has become a member of the People’s Parliament of Worcestershire for the Disabled, helps teach sign language at a day centre, and also works in a garden nursery. Jess wants nothing more than to help others, especially those less able than herself. She hopes by sharing her feelings in this book it will help everyone to know what it is like to be disabled.

…and Jo…

Her mum Jo Allmond now designs and makes crafts, but her career began as a ballet dancer having been privileged to dance with Fonteyn and Nureyev. Injury brought her dancing career to an early close, so she taught creative dance in mainstream schools and for 15 years ran a theatre company for able/disabled young people, helping Jess and others have fun and a social life in the community.

…and their First Book

Cover of Jess the Goth Fairy

The first book in the series

The first book in the series, Jess the Goth Fairy, is a simple, heartwarming tale of a fairy with disabled wings that stop her flying as high as her friends. Her best friend is a sparrow, Helen, a long-tailed tit without a tail. Together they rescue a bird that has been bullying them about their disabilities, and they become friends.  The illustrations, by Emily Daly, have been done to Jess’s specifications.

“I  learned about Jess and Jo’s project via their crowdfunding appeal that enabled them to publish this sweet book via SilverWood Books of Bristol,” says Festival Founder Debbie Young. “It’s been exciting to follow their progress, receiving a signed copy of the book as soon as it was published, and hearing about their visits to schools to share her story. I’m very excited that they’re able to join us for their first ever Festival booking. I think this book should be in every school library in the country!”

Jess the Goth Fairy is available to order from all good bookshops and online, and a sequel is due out in 2016. They will be bringing copies with them to sell at the Festival.

To find out more about this delightful project, please visit their website:

Performance Poet Dan Holloway to Appear at 2016 HU Lit Fest

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

Special guest for 2016 Festival: performance poet Dan Holloway

We are thrilled to announce that the renowned performance poet Dan Holloway is to appear at the 2016 Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival on Saturday 23rd April.

Dan is very well known and hugely respected not only as a first-rate performance poet, but also as a groundbreaking novelist, campaigner and commentator on writing and publishing.

As well as performing his poetry at the Festival, he’ll be leading a discussion panel focusing on poetry and involving other excellent poets in the programme.

To find out more about Dan and his work, check out his website:

Launching “H is for Hawkesbury” – the first HULF Anthology

Cover of 2015 lit fest anthology

We are delighted to unveil our first Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival Anthology, a terrific sampler of work by all of the authors who read at our inaugural festival in April 2015. There’s something for everyone in there – extracts of historical and contemporary novels, travelogues, self-help advice, and poetry – plus more info about each of the authors to help you find out more about their work.

It will be on  sale for just £5 at the Village Show on Saturday 29th August, and will afterwards be available via the usual online retailers, can be ordered from all good bookshops, and will be on sale in the Hawkesbury Shop too.