Apr 13

Fabulous Line-Up, Fabulous Day by Milly Adams

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Words for the Wounded held their annual LitFest Day at Downley, High Wycombe raising £1800 for the charity, and £500 for Waterstones in book sales.

The charity, which is organised and run by three grannies, receives 100% of everything raised as the grannies absorb all costs. This means that they are able to help more wounded and ill veterans. They raise funds largely through providing opportunities to aspiring writers and keen readers, and the LitFest is the high point of their year.

This year, it certainly was. As one of the speakers said, ‘This is the most convivial of LitFests.’

So who were the speakers? Let the photographs speak – taken by Cire Simone, a brilliant photographer, of Cire Simone Photography who not only agreed to exhibit some of her work, but donated a day of her time to the cause, taking complimentary photographs of the speakers

Frederick Forsyth, guest speakers was as always forthright, amusing and erudite as he talked of his memoir: The Insider. He was hilarious and fascinating. What a life, what a supporter of troops and veterans.

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Frederick Forsyth

 Cire Simone Photography

Dr Kathleen Thompson delved into her award winning book From Both Ends of the Stethoscope, which is full of humour and wisdom about how to achieve the best treatment for cancer.

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Dr Kathleen Thompson

Cire Simone Photography


Captain Ian Thornton, one of WforW’s many patrons, talked movingly of his brother John, and the route to Helmand. Diaries of Frontline Soldiers, and the charity set up in John Thornton’s name. The John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation.

Anthony Baines, an actor who donated his time, as did all our speakers + their travel expenses, read an excerpt as he did for all the speakers, and told me afterwards how hard it was not to break down.

pic 3 Capt. Ian Thornton

Capt. Ian Thornton

Cire Simone Photography


After lunch, with wine –so lovely. Isabelle Grey, author of Shot Through the Heart and also a prolific and enormously successful screenwriter talked of the process.

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Isabelle Grey

Cire Simone Photography


CJ Carver was in conversation with Margaret Graham. CJ is the author of bestselling Tell me a Lie, which follows from Spare me the Truth. Margaret has been in the game more years than she cares to remember, and the Easterleigh Hall novels are her latest.

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CJ Carver

Cire Simone Photography

To wrap up the day Gillian Holmes who was Margaret’s editor at Random House and has since moved on ( coincidence? Margaret fears not ) and talked through importance of ‘how to get it right’ and the value of a one page synopsis which the audience found enormously helpful.

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Gillian Holmes

Cire Simone Photography

So who are these WforW grannies? Margaret Graham, Janet Speedie and Penny Deacon are writers, and readers, and members of the Frost Magazine reviewing team. They receive fantastic support from Margaret’s family on LitFest Day. One acts as the speakers’ taxi, the children + Josh busy themselves in the kitchen (and taste the wine) keeping everyone fed and watered, the grandchildren are the runabouts and also present the ‘thank you’ gifts to the speakers.

The local Tesco and the Downley Co-op help with raffle prizes, and the buffet. But more: the manager of the co-op, Tom Gill, came along to help behind the scenes, and very necessary he was too. WforW were so grateful.

Some of Margaret’s Chesham writing group help with PR, bake cakes and many other fantastic things.

Artists Sharon Bennett and Judy Maynard exhibited their work.

In all it really is true that this is the most convivial of events, but more, or so those I spoke to reported. It is helpful for both readers and writers, friendly and huge fun. What more can one ask?






  • There is so much that is wonderful about the Downley Literary Festival – lovely venue, great speakers, fab lunch, a highly convivial atmosphere and a worthy cause. It’s HUGEly enjoyable. Thank you especially for including a screenwriter in this year’s line up. None of the ‘big’ festivals seemed to manage that this year. Is it too soon to book a place for next year’s festival?