The Winchcombe Poets

The Winchcombe Poets were founded in 2011 as a result of a workshop event in the first ever Winchcombe Festival of Music and Arts (WFMA).  Since then, they meet monthly and contribute readings to various festivals. They publish an anthology each year, their latest entitled, ‘Beneath the Surface’. 

Helena Cavan, co-founder, loves to write poetry inspired by music which she calls Concert Poetry and performs with professional musicians.  Commissioned by The National Trust, she has written poetic collections inspired by gardens and houses.

Peter Firth, last Bishop of Malmesbury, was President of The Cambridge Footlights and produced religious programmes for the BBC.  He’s a lifelong supporter of Manchester United and has had several books published.  He was runner up in a national poetry reading competition in Hull.

Briony Smith trained as a nurse and has always enjoyed acting, her favourite role being Sarah Bernhardt in ‘After the Lions.’ After acting, she thoroughly enjoyed public storytelling. Recently, she has relished challenges such as whizzing over a high gorge on a zip wire and climbing Mt Snowdon on a significant Birthday.

Tony Davies grew up in South Africa. He spent some time at sea on a coaster plying between Cape Town and Durban before going to university where he studied history and English literature. He worked in schools, colleges of education and universities. In 1984 he was appointed Professor of English at the University of Fort Hare where many of Africa’s leaders, including Nelson Mandela had studied.  In 1989 he moved to take up teaching posts in England, working in Essex and then on The Channel Islands. He has worked as a radio and theatrical actor and as a writer. His publications include two books on Shakespeare and film, Filming Shakespeare’s Plays and Shakespeare and the moving image, both published by Cambridge University Press.

June Elvin has spent much time in France, where she still owns a wood.  Whilst living in Scotland, she destroyed her early poems but has since atoned for this with a prolific output.  She thrives on the discipline of silent retreats.

Chris Haslam, co-founder, was an English teacher for 40 years; he now works with ex-prisoners and is a lay reader in training.  He has a passion for Australia, bright colours and horse racing and lives appropriately in Merlin Cottage.  Chris won The Peer Poetry Prize in 1997.

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Margaret Collins, a keen runner, is to be seen disappearing over Cotswold horizons.  A nurse, she was recently a prize-winner in a poetry competition run by the NHS.

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Gordon Ottewell has published 2 parts of his autobiographical trilogy.  An ex-headmaster, he is a shrewd observer of the natural world and contributes regularly to Radio Winchcombe with readings of his work, and was a lecturer over several years for the WEA.

Scrub Up Rap by Margaret Collins


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The Winchcombe Poets would like to thank Radio Winchcombe for all their support.