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Stephen Fry to open Brynmawr School’s Literary Festival

BRYNMAWR Foundation School Hosts has been hosting its very own Literary Festival this week.

With their annual trip to the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts cancelled again this year, Brynmawr Foundation School knew just the ‘write’ thing to do and set about organising their very own virtual Literary Festival.

‘New Horizons’, promoting new beginnings after an emotionally challenging year, is a 5-day online event featuring some top names from the world of literature and the arts. What is even better – anyone with a love for the written and spoken word is welcome to enjoy the festival for free.  Staff and pupils are thrilled as Stephen Fry is virtually opening the Literary Festival.  The Brynmawr Foundation School feeder primary schools are participating too, it is a real community event.

The excitement began on Monday (June 14) 2021.

A link to the full programme of guests and more information about them was released with all the sessions and resources posted on the school’s website and social media throughout the week: https://www.brynmawrfoundationschool.co.uk/

Top names featuring in the festival include:

Chris Rankin – New Zealand-born British actor best known for playing Percy Weasley in the Harry Potter films;

Jackie Morris – prize-winning, internationally best-selling illustrator, artist and author of over forty children’s books;

Kat Ellis – young adult author from North Wales;

Stephen Jones – Welsh rugby union coach and former player who played more than 100 times for Wales and six times for the British & Irish Lions;

Simon Lancaster – one of the world’s top speechwriters. He first became a speechwriter in the late 1990s writing for members of Tony Blair’s Cabinet;

Justin Davies – Welsh actor best known for TV comedy-drama series Stella. A past pupil of Brynmawr Foundation School;

Richard Parks – former Wales international rugby union player turned extreme endurance athlete and television presenter; and

Aaron Dembski-Bowden – New York Times-bestselling novelist. Prolific fantasy and sci-fi writer

The festival is being supported by Blaenau Gwent Council; Impact Wales Education; local independent book shop Book-ish; Oxford University Press and the Hay Festival itself. Book-ish will also be offering pupils discounts and exciting prizes, and other opportunities to celebrate literature, throughout the week.

Gerard McNamara, Headteacher at Brynmawr Foundation School, says:

“Our pupils relish any opportunity to become immersed in literature and reading, and they especially enjoy our annual visit to the Hay Festival. The pandemic has impacted so many of our educational plans this past year and, the disappointment of yet another cancelled event got us thinking why not create our very own Literary Festival here at the school. Thanks to the amazing work of our staff and the willingness to involved with some real star names, the idea has gained real momentum and grown into an exciting celebration of literacy and learning which we’re delighted to be able to share with all.

I’m very proud of our wonderful school, and this is just the start of many more exciting things to come.”

Nathan Atkins, Literacy Co-ordinator at Brynmawr Foundation School, added:

“Improving pupils’ literacy is one of our key priorities and we have just invested in the Accelerated Reader programme as we begin the venture into the creation of our own school library which we hope to open in September. The virtual and electronic world of reading are valued and are enjoyed by many, including our pupils and staff, however, to immerse yourself in a book is often easier done without a screen nearby.

“Providing our pupils with opportunities to explore literature; encouraging them to read and stretch their imagination and ensuring their ambitions are achieved is vital for their future progression and success. Creating our own literary celebration will help to further put literacy and reading on the map for our pupils and further help to celebrate our pupils, not only in Brynmawr but across Blaenau Gwent and even further afield.  We’re all very excited here in Brynmawr and can’t wait for June 14th to come!”

Schools throughout Blaenau Gwent are being encouraged to get on board and access the festival.

Councillor Joanne Collins, Blaenau Gwent Council’s Executive Member for Education said:

“I’m so impressed with the festival that’s been put together by Brynmawr Foundation School. It looks so exciting, and I’m delighted that all our schools will have the opportunity to get involved throughout the week.

“We’re committed to continuing to work closely with our schools to make sure that our children and young people have the very best opportunities available in order to thrive and reach their full potential.”

Sadie Evans, Head girl of Brynmawr Foundation School will be recording her own session for the festival:

“I am really excited to be taking part in my own school’s first literary festival! This is such a great opportunity for all of our pupils and the local community to share in a celebration of literature and the arts.”

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