This year we are dedicating two Festival events to two very special WFL colleagues: Thelma Fisher, who died earlier this year, and Simon Loveday who died last October.
The first of these, in memory of Thelma, will take place on Saturday 14 October at 3.30 pm when former WFL Chair, Emma Craigie, will discuss the use of memoir in literature with two local writers, Susan Beale and Helen Stevenson. A writer herself, particularly of poetry, Thelma was always keen to encourage developing and local writers, so it is especially fitting that this event should be dedicated to her.
Before retiring to Somerset, Thelma was the first Director of National Family Mediation and a Fellow of King’s College, London, an inspiration to many. To the Wells Festival of Literature, she was a source of ideas, strategy, diplomacy, common sense and fun. She was instrumental in managing the growth of the Festival, influencing the breadth and scope of the programme. It is the shape it is today because of her.
Thelma has been described as a model of how we need to live and work together; her skills of conciliation were legendary and she always looked for the good, for solutions. Thelma gave so much passion and creativity to the Festival, and to the wider community. She will be very much missed but, as one committee member put it, we will always listen for her voice.
The second of our memorial events will be for Simon, whose involvement with the Wells Festival of Literature went back many years. He was its inspirational Chairman from 2010 to 2013. A man who was genuinely interested in other people, believing ultimately in the good in mankind, Simon would have welcomed Dr Scilla Elworthy’s proposal of Building a World without War. It is fitting therefore that we will remember him especially at the Literary Lunch at 12.30pm on Thursday 19 October when Dr Elworthy will discuss The Business Case for Peace.
Many who attended the 2016 Festival will remember Simon entertaining a packed marquee with stories from his fascinating book The Bible for Grown-Ups. After a long career in education and psychology, this was his final project – a riveting study of the history, text and context of the Bible. Simon was delighted that this work, which received some excellent reviews, was championed by Matthew Parris, who also spoke at last year’s Festival. Simon, as was stated in his obituary, was a gentleman, scholar, literary critic, and teacher. He cared deeply about literature, philosophy, education and psychology and had a love of bridge, poetry, singing and cricket. He is much missed.