We Love A Happy Ending

Winning funds has been a lifeline for a children's book festival

Winning funds has been a lifeline for a children’s book festival.

School librarian Emma Stillwell smiles when asked what inspired her to create a local children’s book festival with her best friends Sally Paynter and Buff Baughan. ‘Not every child likes reading books,’ she says. ‘But all children love a good story.’

So, together the friends set up Storyfest, a two-day festival, starting this May in Hartfield, East Sussex. Storyfest events range from story-telling sessions with world-renowned authors and poets, to pop-up bookshops, tea with the Mad Hatter, creative workshops and craft tents.

‘The idea was to show children that stories can be enjoyed in various forms,’ says Emma, who lives in the area with her husband Nick and their two children, Daisy, seven, and Monty, five. ‘We wanted to inspire avid bookworms, as well as reluctant readers and children with dyslexia.

‘With limited funds, it hasn’t been easy,’ says Emma. ‘But we already have 15 artists signed and we’re anticipating more than 2,000 visitors.’

The women are already planning to make next year’s Storyfest even better. When a friend mentioned the P&G Champion Mums’ Foundation awards, offering mums the chance to win a bursary to improve their local community, Emma applied. ‘I nearly screamed when I heard we’d been given an award,’ she says.

The team plans to use the money on two bell tents for a story-telling village, to furnish the children’s craft tent and pay for this year’s artist fees. ‘This whole experience has been one high after another, and this has just added to that,’ says Emma. ‘I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, and I’m even prouder of where we are going.’

Storyfest is on 12-13 May (storyfest.co.uk)

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