By Tony Henthorn


07590 750128

The John Clare Society Festival

The annual Festival is fast approaching! Just as it seems there is plenty of time left to get everything finally ready, after 9 months of careful planning, the two weeks before really fly by, as is the way with these things

By now many local residents will have received leaflets giving an outline of what is happening this year, but if you haven’t this is a reminder of what we have to offer.  We hope that you will find the time to come along, whether it’s for an organised event, or for one of the days, or for the entire weekend. 

Everyone living in Helpston, and the surrounding villages and towns, are welcome to the Festival, which is completely free to attend apart from one ticketed event on Saturday and two on Sunday.  The whole weekend is designed to be welcoming, informative and fun.

Friday 12 July brings the visit of the Primary School to St. Botolph’s Church at 1.30pm for the poetry competition. 

Prizes will be awarded in the various age categories, after the procession from the school with the pretty and colourful Midsummer Cushions, which the children lay on John Clare’s grave, providing a beautiful centrepiece for the weekend’s activities. This is followed by the “Pint of Poetry” at 6.30pm and “An Evening of Folk Music and Songs” at 8.30pm, both of which are free and at The Bluebell, Helpston. 

Saturday 13 July is the main Festival day, with something for everyone, starting at 9am and ending at 8pm. 

Everything is based in the Village, with the Scout hut, with various exhibitions and stalls, being a new venue for this year. 

There will be delicious lunches and teas at the Village Hall, and The Bluebell will be open all day to welcome visitors.  Parking (if needed) is in the field opposite the school, weather permitting.

13 July is John Clare’s birthday, and the day’s celebrations will end with a lovely concert in St. Botolph’s Church by the local and well-loved group “Pennyless”, for which tickets are only £6. 

Sunday 14 July We are presenting “A Beginner’s Guide to John Clare” 10am – 12pm in the Scout hut (£5)

This is a fascinating and wonderfully interesting talk for anyone who knows little about John Clare or who wants to refresh what they do know.  Having attended this talk a couple of years ago I can highly recommend it.  There is also a Church service at St. Botolph’s at 10.45am where John Clare’s birthday will be remembered. And that will be our Festival events over until we see you again in 2020!  We hope you enjoy every minute.

For further information contact Sue Holgate, Festival Organiser: / 01353 668 438 or me, the Society’s Publicity Officer: Ann Marshall 01400 282 409 / 07815 640 033. For full details of the Festival, Programmes are available from The Bluebell, Woodgate, Helpston, Annakinn, West Street, and from Clare Cottage, Woodgate, and cost only £2. Tickets can be purchased from Annakinn during their normal opening hours (01733 252555).

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