Packed audiences ‘wowed’ by Steyning Festival stars

Jonathan dimbleby opens the Any Question? debate
Jonathan dimbleby opens the Any Question? debate

WELL-known names and a live national broadcast have featured in the Steyning Festival.

Packed houses have been the order of the day as people soak up the range of events on offer in the town.

One of the knit bombs

One of the knit bombs

Radio 4 Bookclub host James Naughtie entertained at the Steyning Centre on Saturday, May 24.

Festival publicity officer Jerry Doyle said: “The Today programme presenter for the last 20 years, he was in Steyning to launch his new political thriller, his first novel, The Madness of July.

“It was packed out and he gave a very entertaining talk about his life as a broadcast journalist at the centre of things. One funny story involved Peter Mandelson changing his trousers on air while James was trying to interview him!”

Broadcaster and writer Natalie Haynes wowed an appreciative audience at the Sussex Produce Company café, introducing her debut novel, The Amber Fury, on Tuesday, May 27.

Author Natalie Haynes Picture: Larry Culliford

Author Natalie Haynes Picture: Larry Culliford

Sara Bowers from Steyning Bookshop said: “Warmly witty, she treated us to a mile-a-minute whirlwind tour of the Ancients, taking in classical tragedy, Booker prize judging, famous last words and the sex-strike as a political bargaining tool along the way.”

Messy MAC at Steyning Methodist Church kept children busy on Wednesday, May 28, and it proved even messier than usual.

Mum Hayley Cookson said: “The children were left to their own devices, with paint, shaving foam and coloured spaghetti. It was really busy and very messy.”

The MAC group meets at the church every Wedsnesday at 9.45am.

Mrs Cookson has also been involved in the knit bomb, having come up with the idea to brighten up the town.

Knit bombs in all shapes and sizes have been spotted, as people join in with the spirit of the woolly assault.

Examples included a comet on the railings of Steyning Methodist Church, to celebrate the Rosetta space mission talk given by Professor Andrew Coates on Tuesday. June 3

To commemorate the first world war, an anniversary production was presented at the Steyning Centre on Thursday, May 29.

Chamber ensemble Troupe performed A Line in the Sand, a moving and dynamic mix of music, words and theatre exploring stories of soldiers, spies, artists and musicians caught up in the war.

Jonathan Dimbleby congratulated Steyning Grammar School on its 400th anniversary when Radio 4’s political debate programme Any Questions? was broadcast live from its drama hall on Friday, May 23.

Ms Doyle said: “It was fantastic and a packed house of 300 or so. The guests were Claire Fox, Trevor Kavanagh, Benedicte Paviot and Billy Bragg.”