Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Grace

Perhaps the inner grace of her nature was spotted so early on that she simply had to be named Grace. Certainly that inner grace prevailed throughout her life. Together with a lively sense of fun and a wicked laugh, it made her a lovely companion, always full of a compassionate interest in others and an untiring desire to know what was going on.

Grace Hallworth became known among us professional storytellers as The Duchess. As a performer, which is how I first became aware of her, her assets included a lovely deep voice, and in more informal story-sharing sessions, a wicked laugh. She’d grown up in Trinidad. She trained as a librarian and became one, and at one time she was wooed by Tom Mboya, then the rising star of Kenyan politics. A course at the Institute of Education with Harold Rosen brought her a change of direction and as storytelling became a recognised art in this country, she became one of those who spent more and more of her time professing it, combining an ability to retain an informality in her approach with an engaging confidence in getting into the telling of an important story.

With her beloved husband, Trevor, Grace acquired a holiday home in Tobago. Back in 2005, Paul and I went to visit her there. We stayed nearby and spent many hours sitting out on the stoup, talking. For talking – and listening – were what Grace loved to do. News of friends. Incidental stories. Gossip. A story you’d just acquired. She loved it all. She also loved all the careful chopping that became part of the essential preparation for any meal she was about to give you.

From the homely to the formal, the sharing of gossip that is one side of storytelling to the ability to transform into the storyteller that has both the stories and the manner of delivery that will enable them be heard and retained by many, Grace was very much the storyteller. For me, she was also a very great friend, the sort of friend who shares your woes and enjoys your successes. Most of all, she always felt very real. And very grounded. She told stories. But she also lived the life that stories aim to describe. And this week she died. How I will miss her.

PS: The photo is from a birthday party. I believe it sums up a good deal of what I see as Grace’s essential gracefulness and enjoyment of life.


2 Responses to “Storytelling Starters ~ Grace”

  1. Janet Dowling Says:

    Many thanks for these memories of grace. She was very helpful to me and I so enjoyed being on a week long workshop with her at the start of my storytelling journey!

  2. Hilary Minns Says:

    Many years ago Grace did a 15-minute programme for our ATV primary English series Talk, Write and Read. She told the story of Anansi and the Magic Pot. She was dressed in white against a background of exotic plants and running water. I was enthralled by her calm delivery and her beautiful annunciation of the narrative which included lots of dialect words. For many years I showed this recording to my students who were learning to be Early Years Teachers. They never ceased to be enthralled by the story itself and by Grace’s astonishing storytelling skills. Thank you, Grace.

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