Presentations and Entertainments
UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS AND AROUND AN ENGLISH ESTATE
WITH FRANK WILSON AND THE EARL OF WHARNCLIFFE
Did you love and enjoy Downton Abbey; the characters, the style, the overall feel of the time and place? If you do you may have wondered whether there is anywhere quite like it. Well there is.
Until very recently I lived very close to one of these in Yorkshire in the north of England (where the mythical Downton was located) and the Earl of Wharncliffe and I would like to tell you about it.
Come with me to Wortley, the ancestral seat of the Wharncliffe family where the local church and school were endowed by the “family” and where most of the houses in the village are still owned by the “estate” along with thousands of acres of land including moors, woodland, farms and a classic old golf course.
Let me tell you stories of upstairs and downstairs; the highs and lows of the family and the many ways in which the life of the village has been interwoven with the life of the Wharncliffes.
Let me introduce you to a succession of Earls and to Lady Rowena, Lady Ann and Lady Barbara, living in the village. Meet Winnie, who worked at “the Hall” and lived a long and busy family life in the place she loved. Let me tell you the stories Winnie and Lady Barbara told me and to which, having lived close to the village for almost forty years I have been able to add more. There is even a slightly scandalous link with British Columbia as well as other dramas and scandals to rival those at Downton..
I cannot take you physically around the hall gardens, through the ancient churchyard, into the Wortley Arms pub (where the last Earl spent a great deal of time) or to the “Countess” tea-rooms for afternoon tea with scones and jam and cream but I can do my best to transport you by other means. It will be my pleasure to take you there.
Katie Ganassin, MS Society of Canada, Manager of Programs BC and Yukon accepts a donation of $5000 from Frank Wilson. It's the proceeds from the sale of Apple Man - Frank's most recent collection of writings.
I continue to drop in to my friendly local coffee shops with 'free poems' which I hand out to responsive looking coffee drinkers. Usually get a good reception.
A new card combining the Tea Room Willows Beach poem has been printed with Chris Mann’s picture as used in Apple Man on the front. On sale at Kiwanis Tea Room Willows Beach Victoria for $5 or from me.
Had a stall at the Moss St Paint In extravaganza recently. Brought in a healthy few dollars for the MS Society. Lots of chat and lots of individual new poems given away!
Set up my stall at two indoor Farmers’ Markets in the local Monterey Centre just before Christmas. More chat and more dollars in the MS Society pot.
I am hoping for further opportunities to present 'Crows in the Apple Tree' at suitable venues. I am willing to do it almost anywhere. Ideal for Rotary, Probus or similar clubs.
If anyone reading this has any other publicity ideas for me please let me know.
Crows in the Apple Tree
I AM A STORY TELLER – AND HERE IS A REAL-LIFE GOOD NEWS STORY all about my work with the Victoria based MS Art Group and the development of two illustrated books of poetry. ‘Chasing Crows’ and ‘Apple Man’ have been well received locally in Victoria and also in the UK. Chasing Crows has 43 of my poems and 17 illustrations – all by members of the Victoria MS Art Therapy group. Apple Man has 47 of my poems and 23 illustrations by past and present members of the MS Art Therapy group together with work from three guest illustrators.
This is a presentation about accessible, readable poetry sold to raise (so far) over $10,000 to assist in therapy and related work for those with Multiple Sclerosis. Why ‘Chasing Crows’ and why ‘Apple Man’? Why do I continue to have a link with MS? Ask me and I will tell you.
‘Chasing Crows’ was launched in Victoria in 2013 at a number of readings and book signing events. In 2016/17 this also applies to the launch of ‘Apple Man’ which is also featured in the Victoria Public Library system in the Emerging Authors series. By arrangements with local coffee shops I also often drop in and give away copies of individual poems. ‘Free Poems’ surprises some but most enjoy the idea. Some of us after all, had poetry imposed upon us at school and never thought about it again. Some find it difficult – and in truth much poetry can be quite hard to fully understand. Is it worth the effort? Should it not rhyme? Why not write in prose in a story or descriptive form?
These are questions I do not mind answering but hopefully in the context of my two collaborative books. It is I believe an encouraging story which began over ten years ago with ‘Blackberries’ – which was self- published in the UK and continued with the two books published in Victoria BC.
Because I also write stories, most of my poetry has a narrative base. All my poetry is easy to understand although occasionally it has slightly more depth than may first appear. ‘Chasing Crows’ is not all about crows by the way! There is only one poem with that title. The same applies to ‘Apple Man’ which you will be pleased to know is not all about apples.
I am happy to give a presentation almost anywhere at any time. Contact me and we will talk about it. No charge but if you insist a donation to the MS Society of Canada will always be welcome.
POEMS TO ORDER
Are you looking for a poem to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, wedding, friendship, recognition of a life well lived - or simply to tell someone how much you care? Or anything else where a poem would work well for you. It could even be simply that you have always wanted a poem about chocolate brownies or black bears or Mt Kilimanjaro or anything else - but written especially for you.
I would be only too pleased to consult with you and then provide a poem to fit the bill - all in return for a small donation to my charity.
Within geographical limits I am also prepared to read the poem to you or the fortunate beneficiary on some special occasion. Get in contact and we can talk about it.
WHY MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AS MY CHARITY?
I met Peter on my first day at school. He was a relatively near neighbour of ours on the edge of Loxley village in South Yorkshire not far from the big steel city of Sheffield. Our dairy farm at Loxley House Farm was about fifteen minutes’ walk away across the fields from Peter’s home. That snowy day in 1947 was the beginning of eleven years attending the same schools and playing numerous games of football (as in real football with a round ball) and cricket together. We watched many Sheffield Wednesday games together and remained friends despite my absence at times overseas. Peter, who was a fully qualified accountant and financial adviser, continued to play cricket until he realised that his hand eye coordination had deteriorated well beyond what was normal for his age and level of fitness.
After he found he had MS and after another friend was also diagnosed I decided that when I could I would raise funds and support research and the therapeutic care for those living with the disease. My first involvement was a 32 mile walk from Bradford (where I had worked in the university for many years) to home to coincide with my 60th birthday. This eventually produced over £1,500 in sponsorship. A self-published book of poetry titled Blackberries followed in 2006 raising a similar amount. Since moving to Canada I have published two collections of poetry in 2013 (reprinted 2015) and 2016 with all the revenue to MS charities. I have also allocated all profits from sales of my two books of short stories (2012 and 2015) to the same cause as well as earnings from my ‘Just Like Downton’ presentations.
Richard and Gwenda Chadwick have provided me with generous financial backing for the production of ‘Chasing Crows’ and ‘Apple Man’ from their Chadwick Foundation. Richard and I lived in the same university residence in Leeds for four years from 1960 and have been friends ever since. He was my best man when Elaine and I were married and vice versa the following year when he and Gwenda were married.