Friday, 28 September 2012

Once upon a time......

When welovebearwood received details of Thimblemill Library’s October calendar, one of the events of the month which stood out for us was the Story Telling Cafe.

Lovely Julie McKirdy from Bearwood’s no 1 library sent us the press release and all of us in the welovebearwood office this sounds really exciting!

As part of the library’s popular ongoing Live@The Library, (we’ve already had a soul jam night and a folk ceidilh night – thank you Thimblemill!),Utter Bearwood with the support of the wonderful Black Country Touring team will be hosting a series of performances from the region’s best storytellers.

Black Country Touring

We’ve been able to catch up with story teller Gav Young who’s been instrumental in putting together Utter Bearwood to find out more.

Gav Young

“I am storyteller, though my background has been populated far more by acting and poetry and trying, like so many others, to write novels. Being immensely impacted by the undeniable power of traditional stories and just adoring the emerging artform of performance storytelling, I joined forces with a passionate and brilliant young man, Tim Franklin - now working as the administrator for Friction Arts and so chairing our steering group - and together we undertook to create a performance platform for live storytelling in the Black Country.

Finding the humble and hard working Julie Mckirdy, of Thimblemill Library, was the key to making this happen: having already begun to run a successful event calendar for the library, with jazz and soul nights, cabaret and author readings, she was only too eager to expand on the entertainment offered by her progressive library and has proved to be nothing less than a whirlwind of enthusiasm on our behalf.

Along with Julie we have been blessed to work closely with the Community Champion, Fran Ellis, who has from the first bravely sat througth all of our overlong meetings, adding valuable imput on each ocassion, and has now come into her own helping us to promote our event to the parents of local schools.

Then making our venture possible not simply as an evening of diversion but as an event of the highest artistic standards, that will live long in the memory of the community, has been our collaboration with Black Country Touring who, taking us on as promoters, have been most generous in their advice and support, both financial and personally.

My co-organiser, Cath Edwards, I met through our work together telling stories to families at the Cannon Hill Park Jubilee Celebrations. Cath is a performance storyteller of incredible grace and wit. Having compered for Birmingham's popular Storytelling Café and been an integral part of this year's storytelling festival at Martineau Gardens, and having told stories to adult audiences at storytelling clubs throughout the Midlands, she now brings all her marvellous talents to bear as compere and resident storyteller for Utter Bearwood.

Cath Edwards

My good wife, Gemma Young, apart from making our striking posters, will be turning the library into a spectacle for the eyes, creating warm tablecloths, bright bunting and inspiring backdrops for our events.
Gemma Young

It is safe to say that all my best decisions towards this venture have all either come from Gem and Cath or have been filtered through their wisdom and practicality.

Utter Bearwood is our pilot series of storytelling evenings for adults currently spanning from October this year to May next year, the events taking place every fourth Thursday of the month (apart from Christmas for which we will have a fun family event on the evening of Thursday, December 13th).

So far we have managed to bring in the regions top storytellers Peter Chand (National Storyteller for the 2012 Olympic Games), Katrice Horsley (National Storytelling Laureate), Cat Weatherill (Children's Author and International Storyteller), Polly Tisdall (Young Storyteller of the Year 2011) and Shonaleigh Cumbers (National Storytelling Laureate Runner-Up 2009 and Consort to the Laureate 2009)!
Peter Chand

We are, above all, a local event for local people and we wish to be part of and support the local community in any way that we can. To this end we have made the ticket prices as low as possible and at our events we will have stalls run by local caterers. Already we have local baker Karen of Truly Scrumptious providing cupcakes in October and, in November, Crafty Muthas co-founder Rachael Gandolfi of Flutterby Cakes and member, Jennifer Emanuel of Charlie's Mom's Chocolate Factory providing their delicious goodies."

We have to agree with Gav’s comments “This is (very!) exciting stuff for Bearwood”

Tickets are on sale in advance at the library front desk for £4 and on the door for £5.
For more information please call the library on 0121 429 2039 or visit the Utter Bearwood Facebook page by clicking here!


  1. Thank you SO much, Jo, for doing such marvellous job promoting our event!

    With good people like you behind us Utter Bearwood is bound to be a success!


  2. Hi Gav. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. Utter Bearwood is such an utterly brillant idea that everybody in Bearwood should know about it. Enjoy!