Fabulous fiction comes to West Lothian with new storytelling festival

Livingston will be home to tall tales, fabulous fiction, and amazing anecdotes this summer with the launch of a new storytelling festival organised by local social enterprise, Spark.
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Plans are being made for a week-long festival in June that will include a series of events in local venues, aimed mainly at children with stories told in a range of formats, including book and poetry readings, plays, music and films.

There will also be a series of workshops for individuals and families to enjoy during the school holidays including with animation by Aardman Animations, creators of Wallace and Grommit.

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Spark, whose aim is to reduce loneliness and social isolation by providing activity groups, trips, events, and volunteering opportunities, has appointed local storyteller, narrator and public speaker Colin Williamson as a diversity and inclusion ambassador.

Jane Deary as Beatrix Potter's Peter RabbitJane Deary as Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit
Jane Deary as Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit

Colin has dyslexia and autism and he uses his storytelling skills to help spread awareness of the conditions.

Spark is asking for volunteers and storytellers to get in touch and join a working group that will meet later this month to plan and finalise arrangements.

Chief executive Jane Deary said: “We would like to showcase the rich tapestry of occupations available to our young people and older generations.

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“People who may wish to train and gain the skills and experience to fulfil careers linked to their passions. There is a wider world of possibility than the lived experience to date and stories are a window to that wider world.

Diversity and inclusion ambassador will be taking part in the festivalDiversity and inclusion ambassador will be taking part in the festival
Diversity and inclusion ambassador will be taking part in the festival

“Spark aims to bring together those willing to share their stories to be the catalyst to that window of opportunities.

“The stories may be written, spoken, sung or in film. What they have in common is the thread of interest, a passion, a belief, and a willingness to navigate the challenges of the journey to achievement and fulfilment that the opportunity provides.

“She added: “One example of this is World Record Breaker Cyclist, Josh Quigley, a local young man who came to Spark to share his story of how taking up cycling led to overcoming mental health issues.

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“His inspirational talk resulted in a number of our members taking up membership of Xcite Sports Centre who brought along an indoor bike to the event.”

The Storytelling Festival organisers putting the event togetherThe Storytelling Festival organisers putting the event together
The Storytelling Festival organisers putting the event together

It is envisaged that the festival will be staged in local schools, community gardens and libraries, as well as at Spark’s Neighbourhood Centre in Craigshill, from Monday, June 20.

The Almond Housing, has agreed to provide free books for under-fives living in its properties.

Sparks hosts a series of regular groups at its premises in Craigshill, including for sewing and needlework, crafts, film making, carpet bowls, walking group, seated exercise, mindfulness, singing and sign language as well as running a choir and men’s and veterans’ groups.

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It also runs a basic IT course in partnership with Sky Cares, a charitable foundation run by local employer Sky.

Spark organises trips and community events as well as operating Spark Creations, a social enterprise shop that sells handcrafted items made by volunteers and donated goods.

During the Covid pandemic, it operated a telephone befriending service as well as delivering hundreds of food parcels and goodie bags to vulnerable households in the area, it also developed an outreach service, providing practical help, social and volunteering opportunities.

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