Hay Festival 2020

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This year the English Department took part in ‘Hay Festival’, an online festival for students to listen to inspirational people in the literary world and learn some new skills. 

Some of the students gave us an account of their experiences of the festival and what they learnt.

Luke Walker – Year 7:

The Hay Festival wasn’t as ‘traditional’ this year, but that didn’t take away from the fun and interesting conversations the audience could participate in. I watched and listened to three talks: Michael Rosen on Poetry, Eric Ngalle Charles on Human Trafficking (these two were recorded) and Stephen Fry on Troy (this was live from his library). 

I found that Michael Rosen delivered his talk with such comedic flare and relevance to children my age, whereas Eric Ngalle Charles’ talk on human trafficking was (as expected) a lot more serious and sobering. 

Although he has been through unimaginable negative experiences, he used these to express his words in a positive way. I find this man’s story a masterpiece and so inspirational, he has been through awful experiences that only belong in nightmares, yet he doesn’t seek any revenge. Furthermore, family is everything to him. He has worked so hard for his voice to be heard. He fled Cameroon when he was just 17 years old, and ended up in Russia where he was tortured and maltreated, and all he thought about was his family. Eric Ngalle Charles is a truly, truly inspirational man. 

As I previously mentioned, I also took part in a live talk hosted by Stephen Fry, in this presentation he told the (shortened and incomplete) story of Troy in his typically light-hearted manner. I found this talk very interesting, mainly because I love Myths and Legends, but also because Mr Fry put the tale into his own words which made it a whole lot more believable.

My introduction to the Hay Festival has been amazing, all be it as an online experience. If I had the chance, I would now love to go to the actual Festival and meet inspirational and comedic people in person.

Sarah Brooks – Year 10:

Sue Turton – Activism Talk

  • I really enjoyed this talk because even though she is not an author i think she had lots of amazing points to talk about and that her book would be very inspirational especially with everything going on at the moment with the Black Lives Matter Movement and climate change.
  • I liked the points she made about how if everyone said ‘I cant make a difference’ then nothing would ever change, however if you have a passion for something then there is nothing that would stop you from doing what you want and making a difference in the world to change what you want to change .
  • Turton also mentioned a lot about the importance of public speaking, which I agree with a lot. A boy she met in one of the countries she visited was very good at debate and had won many awards. Consequently, he managed to make a big effect on all his peers and teachers when he was trying to get a point across because he was able to publicly speak and engage well with the audience. 
  • As well as talking about her book, Sue Turton also mentioned a lot about her job and the dangers of it. I thought this was really inspirational because she has such a dangerous job however, because it is what she wants to do she is okay with putting herself in this position to be able to do what she loves.
  • Lastly because she is a journalist, she talked a lot about fake news and how we should be careful about what we read and in activism, always to be careful about the news and not believe everything and also to be careful what you say so that it can’t be taken out of context or twisted to make you sound negative.

Sam Greenhalgh – Year 7:

I watched a talk on Dark Fantasy. It was about a writer names Melinda Salisbury. The fourth book of her sires was going to be realised. The predecessors to the book was The Sin Eaters Daughter, The Sleeping Prince and The Scarecrow queen. The new book we know now is called The Hart Collector.

The talk had Melinda talk about her book sires and how she started writing books. She evolved from a young girl who was flabbergasted at the fact she could take a book at of the library, to the person she is now. She read a chapter from the new book and it really interested me, I think, inspired by this talk. I will listen to the audio book version of it. At the end she took questions from the kids in the audience about writing, how to write and being a writer. This helps me a lot because one of the jobs I want to be when I grow up is a screen writer. I know the two things are different but she didn’t talk about the way she writes books. She talked about the story, and what to do if you are stuck on one.

Students were also asked to sell the rest of the class and the teachers on their favourite book by giving a talk. Here are some of the talks the students gave:

Erin Misslebrook – Year 7:

May Whittingham – Year 7:

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