Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’ in new book by world-renowned experts in living in the moment 

9th November 2018


Press release:

Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’ in new book by world-renowned experts in living in the moment 

Latest news from Vision Maker Press

Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’ in new book

NAZ ASHUN, Vision Maker Press

Wiltshire author and publisher Naz Ahsun has contributed to a new book, published this month, which aims to inspire readers to live more fulfilling lives.

Being Here…Too, Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment, is filled with inspirational tales from people of all ages, nationalities and professions, covering topics from career goals to parenting. It’s the latest book from award-winning authors Ariel and Shya Kane, from New Jersey USA, and will be available from Monday (November 12).

Naz, who is co-founder of publishing firm Vision Maker Press and is known to many as the presenter of The Outer Limits show on Swindon 105.5, says a series of coincidences led to her involvement in this book. In her story she talks about how she’s transformed her relationship with her body image, food and nutrition.

“Way back in 2011, I was heading for Spain for an Easter break. At the airport, I wanted to get a light, easy read to take on holiday with me. That’s when I spotted Men, Money and Chocolateby Menna Van Praag.  On my first night in Barcelona, I opened the book and didn’t put it down until I finished it at dawn. I knew when I finished that I just had to meet the author, who touched me so deeply.

“However, it wasn’t until 2013 this became a reality when I spotted a social media post by the same author. She was holding a writing workshop in London. I immediately signed up and was not disappointed. I also got more than I bargained for as I also met my, now, fiancé who had been facilitating the workshop with Menna Van Praag!”

Naz discovered the author and her fiancé were part of a growing movement known as the ‘Transformation Community’ which holds seminars all over the world where she met fellow authors Ariel and Shya Kane.

In 2016, members of the community were invited to contribute to Being Here…Too, sharing their experience of transformation in their day-to-day lives.

Naz, who earlier this year published her own second book, The Little Book of Animal Wisdom, said: “I was thrilled my story was chosen as one of the ones to appear. My chapter is called Frolicking with Frittatas and it shares my story of how I experienced instantaneous transformation about my body image and diet – all it required was a little help from ruby red peppers, succulent egg, spongy courgettes and a dash of transformative fairy dust.”

The book’s publication will be celebrated locally on November 12 at an event called How to Access Enlightenment in a Busy Modern World, when Naz will read her chapter to the audience at The Henge Shop, Avebury from 7-9pm and entry is £5.

Details are available directly from The Henge Shop on 01672 539229.


Event: The Journey

28th October 2018

This event looks like being epic. Though not as epic as the journey it sets out to portray: that of Joseph and the pregnant Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

They had to travel 90 miles to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. That was one gruelling and dangerous trip. It’s fair to say that this journey around Old Town won’t be quite so long nor anything like as arduous. But it promises to be an incredible experience.

When does this journey take place? 9th December 2018 at 12pm and 4pm

The Journey

The Journey

Welcome to an immense, immersive theatrical telling of the Christmas story.

A processional performance will unfold throughout Swindon Old Town, this Christmas.

Never before seen ‘behind the scenes’ access to the characters we are so familiar with, will reveal the true nature, the faith and the fearlessness, of those who were chosen to birth and raise Jesus Christ.

Meet Mary, the teenage bride, betrothed to Joseph and mysteriously pregnant. She risks shame, heartbreak and a painful death. Revealed are Joseph’s innermost thoughts. How can he understand the nature of Mary’s pregnancy? How will he find the strength to stand by her? Now forced by an occupying power they must make the impossible journey together, throughout the length of a nation, anyway they can.

This is a story of survival, courage, love and faith against all the odds.

‘Our creative team are keen to highlight how these circumstances reflect the difficulties faced by the refugee community and ask people to just consider that this is still happening today.  *See also David Bent’s Movement 2000 for resonances with what this performance is all about.

We are doing this by creating a huge number of people that will join the principal cast as they move down Bath Road and up Wood Street, to mirror those images seen in the media during the refugee crises of recent years.’

The Journey’s artistic director is Anna Friend of the Quirky Bird Theatre and the executive producer is Daphne Hardwick produced of the ever-popular Old Town autumn fayre at Christchurch.

Follow The Journey on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oldtownjourney/

To register for your ticket visit www.oldtownjourney.co.uk

To get involved email info@oldtownjourney.co.uk

Get your ticket for this free event here. And below is the route of the journey.

The Route

The performance will begin at Lethbridge Primary School and then proceed along Avenue Road, Bath Road, and Wood Street, culminating at Christ Church for our finale.

Route Map - public


If you’d like to get involved in this performance and be more than a bystander – here are some FAQs:

Can I bring my children?
Yes! We would love families to be part of this. Unfortunately we cannot have prams or pushchairs but babes in arms, toddlers and older children are very welcome!

How long will we be needed?
There are two performances, one at 12 and one at 4pm. We envisage that you will be needed for 30 minutes to complete the walk each time, but it could take longer, depending on the size of the group.

Will I need to provide costume?
Kind of…we would like you to wear dark clothing and make sure you are all warm! Shawls and blankets wrapped over shoulders would be great. Nothing brightly coloured, think middle eastern. We would also love if you could have bags with you but don’t worry if not – just you will be fab!

Do we need to rehearse?
Yes, a little bit. You will need to pop along on the 30th November to Christ Church Old Town at 8pm to register and meet Anna Friend, our Director who will talk you through the performance and your part in it. Children do not need to come along on the 30th, just parents! Then on the 2nd Dec we will have a full walk-through of the performance beginning at 12pm so we will need you then.

Anything Else?
No, that’s all, we are so glad you would like to join – please spread the word, we are looking for hundreds to be part of this one moment of the performance.

All you need to do now is confirm you will be involved by emailing info@oldtownjourney.co.uk

The journey of the Magi – T S Eliot:




Event: The Full Monty at the Wyvern

29 October 2018


The Full Monty at the Wyvern

The Full Monty

The tragi-comic Full Monty began life as a 1997 (yes – THAT long ago!) British comedy film set in Sheffield, Yorkshire with a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, The film starts with a travelogue of a 1972 Sheffield and tells the story of six unemployed men – four of them former steel workers. The men decide to form a male striptease act  (à la Chippendale dancers – remember them??) in an effort to raise enough money to:

a. Get out of Sheffiled

b. Enable Gaz, the main character, to get access to his son.

Gaz declares that their show will be better than the Chippendales dancers because they will go “the full monty“—strip all the way—hence the film’s title.

The Themes

A comedy it may well be but the film tackles difficult subjects.  We now have a different political and working landscape – the old concept of the ‘job for life’ died with the wholesale destruction of first the steel industry and then  the mining industry. Yet, the underpinning themes of unemployment, father’s rights, depression and suicide, impotence, sexuality, body image and working class culture remain relevant and still have something to say. Arguably more than they ever did.

The Full Monty Play

Buy your Full Monty Tickets here: https://swindontheatres.co.uk/Online/tickets-the-full-monty-swindon-2018

I was intrigued to see how this stage production would play out – see what I did there? The backstory to the Full Monty is my heritage. I come from a mining area not so very far from Sheffield. My ex-husband was a miner. My daughter grew up in the middle of the 1980s miner’s strike. Indeed her first word was ‘picket’. True story. (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/picket )

So I know this world first hand. And I even have an amusing anecdote involving an RSJ beam. But that’s best kept for the memoirs.

The film, so far as I can recall, behind its comedic aspects, conveyed well the desperation of these people’s lives. Everything they knew, had known for generations, and were fiercely proud of, was gone. They had to adjust to a whole new reality. One where women were no longer full-time housewives and mums, but had jobs -albeit often it was low paid cleaning/shop work etc – while the men were unemployed. As it says in the programme ‘The Full Monty captures that moment when a way of life that had seemed eternal was gone for good.’

If I have a critique of this stage production, it’s that I don’t think one gets enough of a sense from it, of how very awful it was for those people in that part of England, back then. ‘A lot of men were wandering around lost, not really knowing what was going on, not just with their life but with their city.’ (Simon Beaufoy – playwright). That may well be because I’m still, 30 odd years on, too, too close to it all. I guess too it’s the nature of the beast – the confines of a stage production as opposed to the broad brush of a film. Or a little of each. I’m not sure.

In rehearsal

But that does mean the play is not worth seeing? Hell no it doesn’t! Does that mean I didn’t enjoy the production? No – absolutely not! I most surely did.

It’s fabulous, raucous, mildly raunchy, potty-mouthed fun.  YES – there’s lots of swearing as befits the setting and the subject. It really wouldn’t work at all delivered in received pronunciation

The staging rather neatly dealt with the film’s opening travelogue – I liked that. There’s lots of laugh in it – and goodness knows we need a reason to laugh eh? For those familiar with Victoria Wood’s work there’s a familiar face too. This is a great night out with a story that is sad and funny, yet ultimately uplifting as the central characters begin to come to terms with their new reality and get to do their performance.

 But – the question on everyone’s lips is surely: ‘Do they actually do the Full Monty?’ Well – that would be telling eh? So if you really want to know – buy a ticket and go see it. It’s a great night! 

Buy your Full Monty Tickets here: https://swindontheatres.co.uk/Online/tickets-the-full-monty-swindon-2018









Sing Something Swindon: a round up of some of Swindon’s choirs

12th October 2018

Thanks to Jo Garton for this lovely guest blog post focusing on Swindon’s singing opportunities. Which are many and various. This is your note – sing it! Swindon’s lungs are bursting with singing opportunities.

Sing Something Swindon

The Big Sing Thing - Swindon's choirs

The Big Sing Thing 

Swindon is a city of choirs. Well – ok, it’s a town, but it feels like a city to many of us.

There have been many health and psychology studies which show that singing is good for your health. this easy form of self-expression helps maintain sound (pun intended) mental health. Swindon is the place to be if you want to sing, because thousands of people sing here every week and not just in the shower!

Of course, we have a history of singing here; the Mechanics Institute had a resident opera company, which famously made Swindon theplace to be in the UK if you fancied a bit of Russian opera! If you want to know more about that then I suggest you read Secret Swindon by Angela Atkinson, in which she tells more about that.

Mlada:programme of Swindon Musical Society

Mlada:programme of Swindon Musical Society

Nowadays we have highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between.

Probably Swindon’s longest established choir is the Swindon Male Voice Choir, founded in 1919. They meet weekly in Gorse Hill and have about fifty members. Over the years they have toured internationally and won many competitions and Eisteddfods.

The Swindon Choral Society is another long-established choir. It has roots right back to the 1920s. They also tour internationally with a repertoire that includes Requiems of Brahms and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. The choral society has 110 singers and they meet in Freshbrook.

The indomitable Sheila Harrod started the well-known Kentwood Choir in 1964. 

 Like many of the choirs in Swindon they have raised a lot of money for charity – over the fifty-three years of their existence over £1 million. Their president is the internationally renown jazz singer Dame Cleo Laine. Their thirty-five women members have sung on national television and abroad.

Newer kids on the blog are The Magnificent AK47s formed in 2008They meet in Ashton Keynes, but many of their members are from Swindon, some are not even members of the Spooner family! They have enjoyed success at the Derry International Choral Festival and the Cork International Festival. The AK47s are an all male choir who, for reasons not entirely clear, sing quite a lot about beards!

Swindon Community Choir started in 2000 as the Scratch Choir but over the years have changed their name. They favour a ‘natural voice technique’ which believes that singing is everyone’s birthright. They meet in the Central Community Centre in the railway village (what was the medical fund society hospital) on a Monday evening. This is a mixed choir, which welcomes new members without an audition. They have a wide ranging taste, singing folk, pop and international songs.

Running for twenty-five years and also raising money for good causes is the Thamesdown Ladies choir. The choir has around fifty members and a wide-ranging repertoire.

Finally, the BigSingThing has been running for seven years and meets in West Swindon on a Monday evening. Roughly ninety men and women sing each week. They perform concerts locally and have raised over £10,000 for charity. BigSing claims to be Swindon’s friendliest choir and sings  pop songs old and new as well as some songs from musicals.

If you want to sing in Swindon there is plenty of choice!


Swindon Male Voice Choir: https://www.swindonmalevoicechoir.co.uk

Swindon Choral Society: http://swindonchoral.org.uk/scs/main.php

The Kentwood Choir: http://www.kentwoodshowchoir.org

The Magnificent AK47s: http://www.themagnificentak47.com

Swindon Community Choir: http://www.swindon.singtastic.co.uk

Thamesdown Ladies Choir: http://www.thamesdownladieschoir.co.uk

The Big Sing Thing: https://www.bigsingthing.org.uk



Ken White

October 2018

Ken White 

First of all, this post is an opportunity to share this article from Swindon Link Magazine about Ken White. 


Aside from that, it’s an opportunity to share a few photographs of Ken’s work. In my recently published book, Secret Swindon, I made a big effort to convey that Swindon’s cultural and creative present is as rich as its cultural and creative past. Many people/entities/artists contribute to Swindon’s varied cultural landscape as the recent Swindon Open Studios even will testify. And one of whom is Swindon born Ken.

An extract:

‘Ken White: Painter not artist

That’s his description of himself not mine. He’s emphatic on the point. Yet, however you describe him his talent is indisputable.

A born Swindonian, Ken had the great good fortune to get what you’d call ‘a big break’. First though, like so many young men in Swindon, at the tender age of fifteen saw him enter the Works (the 3rdgeneration of his family to go ‘inside’) as a rivet-hotter. Escaping that role, he began his artistic career with sign-writing and stenciling numbers on carriages in the Works. During this period Ken went to evening classes at Swindon Art College to study ‘O’ and A ‘Level art with the intention of becoming a full-time artist … ‘  For the rest – buy the book! 😉

Ken’s portfolio is a wonder to behold – the just-passed Open Studios is the ideal time to view it.

When researching for Secret Swindon I visited Ken and spent ages poring over his output from over the years. His collection of posters designed for Swindon events back in the day are an exhibition in themselves – never mind the rest. Here’s a small few that didn’t get used in Secret Swindon:

Ken White famed Red Lady emblem for Virgin Atlantic

Ken White’s famed Red Lady emblem for Virgin Atlantic

Poster for the unveiling of Carleton Attwood's 'The Watchers' at Toothill village centre

Poster for the unveiling of Carleton Attwood’s ‘The Watchers’ at Toothill village centre


Poster for old GWR Railway museum

Poster for old GWR Railway museum