The Team


Festival founder Debbie Young (centre) with poets Dan Holloway (left) and Shirley Wright

All the directors and guest speakers give their time voluntarily, so huge thanks all round to everyone who is making this free Festival possible.

  • Festival Founder & Director
    In 2015, after serving on the committees of many village organisations in Hawkesbury Upton, local author Debbie Young decided to launch a new, free village event to celebrate books and reading on World Book Night. It quickly became an annual fixture in the community diary, and has grown a little more each year, with the help and support of many volunteers. In 2019, a team of directors has been appointed to share responsibility for specific aspects of the Festival. All directors, including Debbie Young are and have always been unpaid volunteers.
  • Director of Children’s & YA (Young Adult) Events
    Novelist Kate Frost manages activities for our younger audience members, drawing on her experience working with schools
  • Director of Poetry
    Dan Holloway, the highly-regarded poet, has performed in and run numerous poetry events, competing at national level.
  • Director of Short Stories
    John Holland is the longstanding organiser of the biannual Stroud Short Stories event and multiple-award-winning veteran of many spoken word events and short story competitions.
  • Art Exhibition Curator
    Chris Gooding, photographer, and formerly on the staff of the Royal Academy of the West of England, curates the Festival’s art elements.
  • Director of Sound & Vision
    Sid Crighton, owner and director of Orange Dog Audio, brings to the team huge experience of managing sound at events, including the Bath Literature Festival
  • Bookshop Manager
    Author David Penny draws on his professional IT experience to provide a streamlined bookselling operation on the day of the Festival
  • Venue Managers:
    Heidi Perry will make sure events in the Young Readers’ Festival run smoothly for the authors and their young audience, a role she has played since the inception of the Festival, and drawing on her extensive experience as Schools Strategy and Creative Manager at the children’s reading charity, Read for Good.
  • Catering Directors
    Jill Bendeaux and Vicky Rispin manage the ever-popular Wonderland Cafe, and Joan Boulton and Jenny Harris manage the Artists’ Cafe at the Exhibition. Many thanks also to their teams of helpers.
  • Director of Finance
    Although not much money changes hands in this free festival, run by volunteers, certain essential costs such as printing and insurance must be financed, and Debbie’s husband Gordon Young, a retired financial manager, is her fellow signatory.


Without specific titles, but bringing much wisdom and consideration to the Festival planning and management process are Caroline Sanderson, Lucienne Boyce and Heidi Perry .


Author T E Shepherd, a regular speaker at the Festival since its inception, is also a talented artist. “My two main inspirations are the work of Edward Ardizzone and Rex Whistler, and my style is somewhere between the two,” says Thomas. He is currently working on a project to draw my favourite and recommended bookshops with the intention of putting together an illustrated guide.  He also takes commissions to draw homes and businesses, or to illustrate scenes from novels. His illustrations of our Festival venues and this year a new map of Hawkesbury to help visitors find their way around are much appreciated by our community and by our audience. View samples of his work at


Since the 2017 event, Angela Fitch has been our official Festival photographer, taking photos not only of the various programme events, but also providing individual portraits and groups on request at the special rate of £30 per session. For more information about Angela and her work, visit her website:


Laura Young will be taking informal photographs throughout the Festival venues on the day for the Festival’s archives and publicity purposes.

As the Festival continues to grow, more volunteers are needed to join our team of LitFestMakers who make the event run smoothly. We particularly need Venue Managers for the Bethesda Chapel, Methodist Chapel and School Hall.

To volunteer in any capacity, or to find out what our current needs are, please don’t hesitate to contact us.