Celebrating Ted with poetry, music and art

Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre  Ian Parks with Ted Hughes face on a stick
Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre Ian Parks with Ted Hughes face on a stick
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Hundreds of people flocked to a Doncaster town as it held its first Ted Hughes Festival.

About 300 people from across Britain took part in a series of events in Mexborough, where the former Poet Laureate lived between the ages of eight and 21.

Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre  Lesley Merrin with a book of poems written by some pupils at a Doncaster School

Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre Lesley Merrin with a book of poems written by some pupils at a Doncaster School

Events were held on High Street and at Mexborough Business Centre, discussing the writer’s work, along with various activities, from Friday, July 3, to Sunday, July 5.

The festival was organised by Doncaster-based arts project Right Up Our Street in collaboration with a group of Hughes’ supporters.

Steve Ely, chairman of the Ted Hughes Project (South Yorkshire), said: “We had a fantastic festival for the people attending, for the people performing, and it was also great from the point of view of the people who were just aware of the impact it was having.

“We had 300 people attending over three days. We had no idea how many would be there, because this was the first time we’ve done it, but we thought 40 a day would be something we’d be happy with.

Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre  L>R Mick Pettinger (Fox),Dominic Somers, Art Supporter part of the right up our street, Steve Ely Chair of the Group

Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre L>R Mick Pettinger (Fox),Dominic Somers, Art Supporter part of the right up our street, Steve Ely Chair of the Group

“We got more than double that.”

Some of the visitors came from as far afield as Scotland and Southern England, but it was estimated 60 to 70 per cent of those attending were from the Mexborough area.

Organisers said they were delighted with the numbers as they are keen to restore people’s awareness of Mr Hughes’ links to the area, as well as commemorating his work, and generating interest in writing and poetry in the town.

Mr Ely said his personal highlight of the festival was a Ted Hughes’ Schooldays panel, which included four people who went to school with the writer.

Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre  L>R John Beal, Paul Dyson, Ed Reiss, Anna McQuillin, Ian Parks, reading the original type script by Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre L>R John Beal, Paul Dyson, Ed Reiss, Anna McQuillin, Ian Parks, reading the original type script by Ted Hughes

Dorothy Andrew, Alan Johnson, Margaret Mee and Geoffrey Griffiths provided personal anecdotes from their time at Mexborough Grammar School with Hughes.

Mr Ely said: “Ted Hughes’ legacy lives on in Mexborough. He lived here from the age of eight until he was 21, and those are important years in his development. Those were the years where he was developing as a poet and I don’t think he would have been writing the same sort of poetry had he not had the experiences he had in Mexborough during that time.”

Dominic Somers, arts supporter for Right Up Our Street, said: “The event went incredibly well. We organised more than 29 hours of activities over two and a half days.

“Everyone said how proud they were that such a big event could be held in Mexborough. We are hoping to turn it into an annual event.”

Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre  Christine Whitehead with her painting of Mexborough Ferry

Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre Christine Whitehead with her painting of Mexborough Ferry

Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre  L>R Dominic Somers, Art Supporter part of the right up our street, Steve Ely Chair of the Group

Ted Hughes Festival, Mexborough Business Centre L>R Dominic Somers, Art Supporter part of the right up our street, Steve Ely Chair of the Group