Broadcaster Jeremy Vine believes that the enthusiasm of Appledore Book Festival audiences is helping to fuel the event’s growing popularity.
As the Festival’s new patron prepared to return to London for his lunchtime Radio2 show after a busy weekend three-event schedule, he said: “The Festival has great audiences and I think that’s the key to its success.
“When I was in conversation with Barry Norman, for example, I know that he was very chuffed because the first question he was asked was: ‘Why aren’t you still presenting a film programme?
“It’s just so warm and welcoming in Appledore.
“When I chatted to Margaret Evison about her book Death of a Soldier you could have heard a pin drop when she was talking and I think that the way people pay so much attention at this Festival is wonderful.
“It was brilliant, too, for me to get up and talk about why I love radio at my own event. The whole place was full and people just wanted to listen.
“There is a great line-up of authors this year and that’s a great testament to the work of Festival Director Brenda Daly and all of the volunteers.”
He added with a smile: “I think it’s the best festival in the world with the best welcome and the nicest people.”
Barry Norman, who talked to Jeremy about his life and his book See You in the Morning enjoyed the warm reception he received and being interviewed by Jeremy. He said: “I’d never met him before although I was on his programme once when I did a down-the- line interview with him but that is about the only contact we ever had.
“It’s always nice to be interviewed by someone who knows exactly what he is doing.
“What little I’ve seen of Appledore is quite enchanting. I had a lovely view from my hotel Appledore House which looks right out over the estuary. It was fantastic.
Award-winning author Andrew Miller who talked about his book Pure, the 2012 Costa Book of the Year is a big fan of Barry’s. He said: “I’m very glad that he was in Appledore as he was just this fount of good sense when he was on TV all those years ago. I love cinema and it was lucky to have someone who spoke so well about it. He wasn’t influenced by anyone which is a rare thing in that world.
“I’ve not been to Appledore before but I went to Instow when I was probably my daughter’s age, about eight. We stayed at a little hotel and I remember there was a big dog that used to patrol the swimming pool of the hotel and it had a slightly Faulty Towers feel to it. There were lots of kids around and actually it was a lovely memory.”
Ruth Padel, presenter of Radio 4’s Poetry Workshop and author of The Mara Crossing which is short-listed for the 2012 ted Hughes prize, was also pleased with the audiences for her two events. She said: “There were a lot of very nice, very interesting people who were on the ball from artists to anthropologists, all sorts of different people.”
War reporter Kate Adie, who talked about her new book Fighting On The Home Front: The Legacy of Women in World War One, said: “I do like Appledore and have been down here a lot and its lovely to come back and be amongst such distinguished company.
“I’ve been nose-down working in libraries and all sorts of places including newspaper archives since my last visit to the Festival three years ago. I like the research part of it and I like burrowing around finding out things that I never ever had an idea about before.”
But it was a new experience for The Times chief night editor Simon Pearson who talked about his book The Great Escaper: The Life and Death of Roger Bushell. He explained: “This is my first time in Appledore and, in fact, its my first time at a book festival..
“On the way here I’d been feeling a little nervous since Exeter although I started the morning quite calm.
“But I think it’s lovely to start somewhere which I’ve heard has the reputation for its warmth and for being known as the Friendly Festival.”
Chris Chapman, who showed his film Dartmoor was delighted to see that seats for his show were all sold out. He said: “I think it’s a lovely idea that a film about Dartmoor is being shown at a book festival. I’ve written a book about Dartmoor and I’ve lived there coming up to 38 years now. You’re only considered a local when they put you in the ground!”
Once more the Festival was launched with a rousing concert by the Chivenor Military Wives Choir and the Appledore Silver Band. The proceeds were split between the Choir Foundation and the Festival. Choir member Sarah Matthews said: I sang last year and the audience was fantastic. I thoroughly enjoy it and love the comradeship that has developed between us ladies Joining the choir might be alien to a lot of people at first but what’s actually behind it is more the fact that that if your husband is away you’ve got some one to turn to. You’re not on your own.”
Tickets for the Festival, which ends on October 6, can be bought at the ABF Box Office, Docton Court Gallery, 2, Myrtle Street, Appledore, EX39 1PH or by phoning the Box Office on 01237 424949 or by going on line at www.appledorebookfestival.co.uk