Harrogate pupils meet War Horse author

Harrogate History Festival - Brackenfield School pupils, Abby Johnston-Jones, 10, and Rory Johnston-Jones with famous author Michael Morpurgo. (Picture by Charlotte Graham)
Harrogate History Festival - Brackenfield School pupils, Abby Johnston-Jones, 10, and Rory Johnston-Jones with famous author Michael Morpurgo. (Picture by Charlotte Graham)
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Harrogate History Festival certainly had it all this year - an award to War Horse author Michael Murpurgo, cut-price tickets for schoolchildren and the sort of crowds forMelvyn Bragg usually found at a rock concert.

One of the most thrilling mom ents happened when school children attended a special Festival event last Friday night with the celebrated children’s author Michael Morpurgo.

More than 150 pupils from Pannal Primary, Roecliffe School, Rossett Acre and St Roberts Catholic Primary listened to the former Children’s Laureate at the Old Swan Hotel.

It was part of a deal arranged by organisers Harrogate International Festivals, who offered £5 tickets to young people from across the district to encourage participation.

Gemma Rowland, Literature Festivals manager, said: “It was an incredibly inspiring event, and quite lovely to see so many children enjoying the Harrogate History Festival.”

Earlier in the four-day festival, Morpurgo had been there in person at the festival’s launch night on Thursday to receive the Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction Award.

The evening began with a general introduction by Harrogate International Festival’s chief executive Sharon Canavar who made a passionate plea on behalf of the arts.

Making the introductions was renowned broadcaster Mark Lawson, one of the festival’s most high-profile supporters.

He presented the Historical Writers’ Association 2015 Debut Crown Award for new historical fiction to Ben Fergusson, author of The Spring of Kasper Meier set in post-war Berlin.

The four-day festival featured a wealth of special guests including Princess Michael of Kent, Ken Follett and Melvyn Bragg.

The latter’s visit on Sunday saw large crowds at the Old Swan Hotel held in rapt attention as The South Bank Show presenter give a wide-ranging speech from a lectern about the historical roots of his new novel Now is The Time, about Wat Tyler, the boy-king Richard II and the Peasants Revolt of 1381.

Bragg said: “It was easily the biggest rebellion per capita in British history but it’s miscalled the Peasants Revolt. Britain didn’t have peasants.”