Suffolk's Own Eisteddfod

The Contestants for 2016 Storyteller's Chair

Simon Hooton -   Although new to storytelling, Simon has been doing something similar for many years. This started, and continues, on the stage from Gilbert and Sullivan at school to 10 years as a pantomime dame. But it also include talks, lectures and training on a variety of subjects though normally with an environmental theme. That’s where this new story telling venture joins in as he hopes to use stories about our special East Anglian countryside to inspire people to get out and enjoy, and care, for what is all around them.

Sarah Walker - Sarah Walker is a storyteller, writer and teacher who has worked in Italy, Spain, France, Thailand, Laos, China and the United Arab Emirates, teaching English and learning local tales and folklore. Her pastiche carol ‘The Christmas Boogie’ was premiered by Al Ain Community Choir in 2009 and her poetry has appeared in a few rare publications. Her collection of original tales based on traditional themes from around the world, ‘Ghosts International: Troll and Other Stories’, is published by Oxford University Press. She is working on a novel set in East Anglia during the English Civil War. She tells stories alone and with Barrie de Lara under the name SarahSpinsStories, is a founder member of the East Anglian Fabulation, and coordinates Norfolk’s monthly story-telling gathering, Tales From the Undercroft

Malcolm Busby - An Anglian through and through Malcolm was born and raised on the West side of Devils Dyke on the edge of the Fens close to the Great Ouse. His life and beliefs from an early age have been shaped by the natural world, our shared heritage, and the wisdom, customs and practices of his family and friends. Never happier from an early age than when alone in the countryside, he worked as a ranger for a combined period of twenty years in parks and country parks in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire striving to help the landscapes he worked in and encouraging people to enjoy it as well through active involvement and by talking to them. Those talks led him naturally into storytelling and now as a storyteller and gardener he continues to work with and encourage people to love the countryside and our heritage.

Rachel O' Leary - is a local storyteller who enjoys stories that tickle the imagination, expand the mind, or cause a giggle. She held the title of Chief Storyteller, Skald of Suffolk in 2014. Rachel is interested in the way the shared experience of co-creating a story can bring people together in community. Does this community stretch backwards in time to include those who first sparked our traditional tales by the fireside? You never know who's listening.... She's told stories to all ages, on a freezing fen, in a roundhouse, a mediaeval chapel, schools, pubs and libraries.

Glenys Newton - After my son had left home I threw all the cards in the air and had a life change. Whether it was a mid life crisis (they are great), or whether it was a reaction to Chris leaving home I don’t know, but I sold the house, packed my job in and trained to be a storyteller at The International School of Storytelling in Sussex. I spent the best part of a year living in my old post office van with my perpetually bemused lurcher dog, Tom.
I found that the itinerant lifestyle was one that was only ever just below the skin and, although I now live in a gorgeous little cottage, I spend a lot of time wandering about telling stories to anyone that will listen.

The Contestants for 2016 Poet's Chair

Barrie de Lara - Barrie de Lara is a storyteller, singer and writer. He has been a chorister since the age of seven, a singing teacher and, after studying Classical Chinese and Tibetan at university, taught and examined English in 24 countries besides translating into English from 9 languages. His account of the great East Anglian flood of 1953, during which he and his Rupert Bear annual were rescued from a bungalow roof in Canvey Island, was published in The Oldie Magazine, and later excerpted in David Kynaston's book on modern British history "Family Britain 1951 - 1957". In 2011, his short story ‘Dinner at Benutti’s’ won the Bridport Third Prize for fiction. His Christmas carol ‘The Blue Carol’ had its British premiere in Saint John’s Cathedral, Norwich, sung by the UEA 120-voice choir. He is a member of the East Anglian Fabulation and helps run Tales From the Undercroft, Norfolk's storytelling gathering

Beverley Price - Beverley is a weaver of dark prose and poetry, dreamer of Gothic imagery, cat lover and nature worshipper. Her work deals with the bitter fact that love is not always chocolate boxes and roses. She has had a poem published in an E-book called “Poems from Beyond the Grave” and her own poetry book “The Flowering of the Black Petal" and "By Ink, Paper and Pen: A Tribute to Black Petal”, and a novel "Blood Bound". Formerly from the gloomy but mythical land of Wales, Beverley now resides in the slightly drier but as spiritual home of Ipswich.   

Nick Ford - TBC

Kaaren Whitney - A poet, Homeopath and celebrant of rituals, Kaaren is also the guardian of a Labyrinth and Tree Circle.  She has consistently written poems for each of the eight seasons since 2000.  Back in 1970 meditation and ritual work became prominent when she first went to Stonehenge with the Druid Order.  Since then several groups in Suffolk have contributed to her skill in ritual and meditation as well as yoga.  She attends three poetry groups and finds giving and receiving critique of work with fellow poets very helpful.  She also reads her poetry regularly at Open mics in USA and the UK especially those of the Suffolk Poetry Society.  Her new book ’THE TURNING OF THE YEAR : A Book for 8 Seasons’ is now available for enjoyment and purchase - just in time for gift giving.