Riddle me this. Long skirts, (I assume just for the women, but I am not 100% sure), camping, mud mud glorious mud, and different areas to visit and partake in. What type of event am I?

...

You guessed it, a festival. Well this one was online and called the ‘Festival of Belonging’.

It was run by Mirthy via Zoom, enabling them to offer a diverse range of talks with many speakers - some already known to the “Mirthy Gang” - whilst also welcoming new hosts into the fold. Running the week online enabled festival goers to enjoy the programmed events without necessitating leaving home or contending with large crowds – for me a godsend as I currently have an injured leg making it hard for me to leave home.

So what did I attend?

I delved into my family history (Researching your Family History with Ben Nicholls 2-3pm) – barely scratching the surface but with many helpful suggestions and pointers of where to go next.

I dived head long into my beloved world of Shakespeare – being cajoled into reading a short passage on the Tuesday (Speaking Shakespeare- workshop with Malcolm Jones 2-3:30pm)

I took the plunge on Thursday and joined a play reading session (An Introduction to Play reading with Claire Cartwright from Friends with Shakespeare 1-3pm)– something I would never have volunteered for before – but next time I consider doing any play reading I will remember to not volunteer to read Bottom in a Midsummer Night's Dream!!!!

On Wednesday you would have found me engaged in a fabulous storytelling session ('Bringing us together with stories' - a storytelling workshop with Sandy Leong 3-4pm) . Immediately followed by the Community Quiz (Community Pub Quiz 4-5:30pm)– however, the less said about my score the better, – yes you have cracked the “conundrum” I won “the wooden spoon”!

Finally on Friday I participated in the Singing Workshop (Singing Workshop 3-4pm) , a fun way to end the week. Some may feel that zoom is a weird medium when it comes to singing workshops because you need to be muted, but I feel this is advantageous – nobody can hear when you miss the notes, completely singing out of key or maybe even sing the wrong song!

For me the final few seconds of the Singing Workshop and the Festival of Belonging were very personal and emotional when our lovely host unmuted us all and I was serenaded with “Happy Birthday” – I have to be honest and say a tear or two slid down my face at the point and I will remember the relaxed and happy feeling as I said “adieu” for the final time of the amazing ‘Festival of Belonging’.

The team at Mirthy raised £300 to be donated to Bristol based The Marmalade Trust, they ran 14 workshops and had 152 participants, many of whom I suspect -like me- went to multiple events.

I would like to conclude by asking the Team at Mirthy, who I am privileged to consider friends two final questions.

Q1) When is the next Festival please!! Do you have any ideas for a theme, or maybe could we email you suggestions of what we would like it to include?

and

Q2) On a personal note – where is my Wooden spoon? will it arrive soon in the post with an appropriate message on it? – maybe just saying “Festival of Belonging “and the dates and, if there is room, signed by all at Mirthy for me to treasure.

by Debbie Millard