We couldn’t have wished for a better morning. The FWC volunteers were all there, filling the empty Silk Mill with tables and signs. Even competition from the England-Sweden match faded into the future. Balloons were blown, bunting distributed, and an atmosphere of cheerful bustle lay over us all.
I had a lovely welcome speech written and printed in large type, but I need not have bothered. When the time came for the official opening I forgot even to look at it as I stood on the steps with our patron, Chicken House’s founder, Barry Cunningham by my side. In the hall below, stallholders were already engaging visitors; the buzz was energising and hopeful and Barry was obviously enjoying being there. He made a point of looking round the stalls from the start.
I felt a bit too formal in my white top and navy skirt – but Barry’s warm personality and down to earth approach relaxed us all, and when the time came to begin the official opening, and I said I’d use my ‘teacher voice’ to get attention, he watched and listened. Then, when I didn’t get instant silence, he offered to use his ‘teacher voice’, which was surprisingly powerful and loud. That worked very well.
As he spoke, the warmth of his support for local talent and for the amount of effort Frome Writers’ Collective puts into encouraging members was obvious and heartfelt. He believes in what we are doing, and more than that, he believes that in a time of ‘fake news’, society’s truths and personal passions are written by the authors of books; that truth is disseminated through fiction.
Visitors continued to come throughout the afternoon; the stalls were busy and we had 100% uptake for our ‘Interviews with an Agent’.
We gained a number of new members from the many who followed the footprint and balloon trail into the Silk Mill. By the end of the day our volunteers were more than a little exhausted, but happy with the results. New contacts with the publishing industry have been made and the population of Frome has again been reminded of how the FWC channels and supports the abundant creativity of the town.