Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Vote Now!

The website is open, voting has started and this year’s BASE awards are now being decided. The numerous categories range from Outstanding Male or Female Storyteller to Trailblazer and Life Achievement. The voting deadline is the witching hour of midnight on September 27. The results get announced the next day.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award is what I’m up for. If you’d like to give me your vote (and the three of us shortlisted include Sheila Stewart and Taffy Thomas), here are the steps to take. Be patient, they’re quite straightforward but a bit long-winded:
  1. Go to http://www.storyawards.org.uk/
    Click on Register to Vote
  2. On the USER ACCOUNT page that comes up, fill in the boxes marked Full Name / Username / E-mail address and Word verification and then click on Register
  3. Note that a message then comes up at the top of the page saying an acknowledgement email is being sent at once to your email address
  4. When you look up that email, click on the link that is given so that, on the form that comes up, you can set a password
  5. On the form that comes up, fill in your Username and select a password
  6. Click on Save
  7. Now at the top of the page click on Vote
  8. In the first category – Lifetime Achievement Award – click on Vote (hopefully for me!)

If you do give me a vote – and thanks so much if you do – I’ll see it as an affirmation of all the 30 years of extraordinary, ordinary stuff that storytellers like me get up to – the schools, the workshops, the training, the performing, the supporting, the talking, the sharing.

‘Thank you for teaching us thinking’

Stuff, in fact, like at Craig Yr Hesg school this last week. The school is small and very friendly – about 100 children – and in a pretty deprived area of South Wales. My Shemi stories went down well and, with the 5 and 6 year olds, there was also a very lively response to the excellent Pembrokeshire legend of Skomar Oddy, the giant who sleeps under the Preseli Hills.

Bringing such stories to children always feels like a privilege. It’s a joy to see them becoming absorbed and a pleasure to stimulate them into responding in a whole variety of ways. It made me remember how a Junior-age child once wrote to me after a session: ‘Thank you for teaching us thinking.’

Time-Banking scheme

Meeting Jo was also great. Jo works for Glyn Coch Communities First and was the person who had first got in contact to arrange my visit. She told me about the Time-Banking scheme that happens in Glyn Coch as in various other parts of Wales. Local people can volunteer time to participate in all kinds of community schemes from gardening to helping with playgroups. The volunteers can be any age from the elderly to young children. They bank the hours that they give. Then they can trade in these hours in return for a whole variety of things such as time in the swimming pool or tickets for a show. Or for having a storyteller!

Just one thing I kicked myself about after my visit. The name of the school! ‘Craig’ means ‘Rock’. That’s straightforward Welsh. But what about the meaning of ‘Hesg’? I’d forgotten to look it up before my visit. Back home, my dictionary told me it means ‘Sedge’. Not a common word these days. Yet one of the fun things in storytelling is being able to introduce and make clear the meaning of words your audience may not understand – such as, on Monday, the English word ‘moor’. None of the children recognised it when it came into my gruesome tall tale of Shemi’s split-in-half dog. Well, if I go again to Craig Yr Hesg, I’ll see if they know what it means and if they don’t, perhaps we’ll make up a story about who might have lived or what might have happened among the sedge grasses around the rock in the place where they live.

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