Revolution Performing Arts

Revolution Performing Arts

Revolution Performing Arts logo

I’ve been meaning to do this post about Revolution Performing Arts for a while now. But y’know how it is. I’m sorry Fi!

Fiona Di Silva Adams invited me to attend the show, by Revolution Performing Arts, called Be Your Unique at Swindon’s Arts Centre earlier in January. It’s taken me until now to get round to give it a mention here.

Revolution Performing Arts - Be your unique

‘Being unique is better than being perfect

RPA Rapport is a performing arts company with a difference – actively encouraging young people to find and celebrate their differences.

Changing young people’s lives. RPA nurtures all young people, empowering them to feel fabulous and celebrating the amazing individuals they are: revolutionpa.co.uk

In this annual sharing performance, the teenage members of RPA Rapport worked with professional arts practitioners to create pieces that explored what it means to be unique. This uplifting and thought-provoking performance comprised short drama, dance and music pieces all designed and technically managed by the young people themselves in their own words and attitudes.”

There were insightful monologues written by the young people themselves. They did the choreography themselves also. And, above all, as it says on the groups Facebook page: ‘showed that with young people in this world we can all make a difference to embrace our uniqueness and make the world a better place.’

As a friend of mine, Carole Bent, said of the dress rehearsal of this performance:

‘A genuine privilege to witness the dress rehearsal of ‘Be Your Unique’. Very well done to every single young person taking part, RPA team & the Arts Centre.

Am sure that the audience tonight will be as moved and engaged as I was & hope that everyone on stage enjoys every moment. Thankyou Fiona Fi Da Silva-Adams Paul, Sam Olly & all xx’


And Amen to that says I. Because being unique is sooooooo much better than being perfect!

Revolution Performing Arts on Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionPerformingArts/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RevolutionPA

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/revolution_performing_arts/

What people say about RPA

Swindon Festival of Science

Swindon Festival of Science

All eyes on ‘Tomorrow’, Swindon’s first festival of science, technology and engineering – 21-22 February 2020.

Swindon Festival of Science

Families from Swindon and beyond can explore the latest in science, engineering and technology at the Tomorrow Festival at STEAM museum, next month – 21-22nd February 2020.

A host of top universities and high-tech companies will join the Science Museum, the UK Space Agency and UK Research and Innovation. Together they are presenting Swindon’s first festival of science and technology.

Events Listings and Ticket Booking

See listing of events here: https://www.steam-museum.org.uk/events/event/36/tomorrow_-_swindons_science_festival and to book tickets follow the link here.

The Tomorrow Festival


The ‘Tomorrow’ festival is the brainchild of Science Swindon. This collaboration between local company, New Elements, and STEAM Museum of the Great Western Railway, brings together the latest scientific discoveries and cutting-edge technologies in this two-day event.  

The festival features a range of ticketed science shows, talks and panel debates with government and industry. There’ll also be a free-to-enter interactive zone. In the interactive zone visitors can meet real scientists and engineers working at the cutting edge of research and try out some of the latest technologies for themselves.

Set against the backdrop of Brunel’s railway engineering legacy, the event will explore:

  • The future of health & medicine
  • Energy & environment
  • Gaming & VR
  • Space & astronomy and the future of travel.  

Space shows and workshops from the Science Museum

Recognising Swindon as home of the UK Space Agency, London’s Science Museum is sending their popular space shows and workshops to run on both days of the festival.

The action-packed show, called Out of this World, will take visitors to the festival, at STEAM museum in February, on a journey into space.  Led by the nationally recognised Science Museum outreach team, they’ll discover what it takes to become an astronaut, launch a rocket, explore the Solar System and look for alien life. The show promises explosions, super-cool liquid nitrogen, eye-popping vacuums and even wee drinking!

This festival is shaping up to be a fantastic celebration of the innovation in Swindon and the region,” said Ian Larrard, Director of the Business West Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative.  ‘Swindon is at the forefront of tackling our greatest challenges and opportunities, from climate change and vehicles of the future. Encouraging young people in Swindon to enjoy STEM subjects is critical to Swindon’s future.’

Swindon Festival of Science - science swindon logo

We’ve had a great response to the festival idea. We’re delighted that Business West have decided to support the event,” said Rod Hebden, from Science Swindon.

Science Swindon is a collaboration between New Elements and STEAM museum, in Swindon, who are running the festival.

‘We’ve got an incredible line-up of events and activities. I urge people to follow Science Swindon on social media, book tickets to the talks as soon as possible, and come along to the festival next month.’

For more information, contact Rod Hebden on 07410113966 or rod@scienceswindon.com, or visit www.scienceswindon.com

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/science_swindon
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scienceswindon/

Swindon Folk Club

Swindon Folk Club

So Friday 6th December saw me at the Swindon RAFA club in Old Town for a Swindon Folk Club evening.

Now, before I go much further I have to confess that folk music is not particularly my ‘thing’. I’m more than happy to confess that my tastes are middlebrow in all things: music, art, literature, theatre. There’ll be odds and sods that I like from other genres – but for the most part I remain middlebrow.

But ages back now, Bryony Gramont messaged me on my Born again Swindonian Facebook page asking me to come along. And because Born again Swindonian aims to be all things to all people I was delighted to agree. But then life got in the way as life does. And then I got ill – for ages ….but at length I managed to get it together.

Thus, thanks to the kindness of club member Alan Rothwell who gave me a lift, I made a visit to the club.

Swindon folk music - black and white graphic of musical instruments.

Swindon Folk Club: Traditional, modern and accoustic folk music in Swindon.

About Swindon Folk Club

I was somewhat surprised to discover from the club’s website, that it came into being in 1960! Who knew?! Not me. As the website says, ‘Founded by Ted & Ivy Poole and friends in 1960, the club (formerly Swindon Folksingers’ Club) has a long history of keeping traditional music alive in this busy town in north-west Wiltshire.’

Anyhow, off I went with eyes peeled for beards and fingers and ears!

So what did I find?

Well listeners, there was a noticeable and, slightly disappointing, lack of fingers in ears. But, you’ll be pleased to hear, good news on the beards front. Phew!

Aside from beards though, the other thing I found was a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The night I attended was an open mic affair with a guest band. It being an open-mic-everyone-that-wants-to-having-a-go evening some of the voices were not – how shall I put this – recording contract quality. Not that I can talk mind you – my three year old granddaughter tells me to stop when I sing!

Anyway! That didn’t matter at all. Because what shone through was what a wonderful, welcoming, inclusive and safe environment Swindon Folk Club offers. This group is a wonderful place for anyone with an interest in folk music to have a go. And that’s a wonderful thing wouldn’t you say?

So if having an interest in folk music – whether listening or participating – I’d urge you to pay a visit to this lovely bunch of people.

Taken from the group’s Facebook page is their own write-up of the evening which will give you a good flavour of one of their events:

‘On Friday 6th December at Swindon Folk Club, we welcomed The Marsh Starlings, a folk/bluegrass trio performing a range of songs as well as their own material. A great mix of laid back and up-beat folk tunes. Singer & guitarist Lynn Marie Bateman, Banjo player Kevin Starling and Guitarist & singer Ian Marsh. Thank you, we really enjoyed your two sets, and are still chuckling at Kev’s solo singing spot, ‘In the Morning!’

The evening started with the usual singaround from club members, starting with Dave our MC for the evening. It was nice to have one of our youngest members Lucien (12) singing for us whilst his older brother was at home ill. Great to see Trevor back again to play and sing for us now that his hand is healing well. Che gave us a couple of numbers and was joined by Lynn and Kevin for an impromptu session for his second one. 

The dreaded lurgy was still playing havoc with some of our singers but Steve Anderson managed a couple of beautiful instrumentals on his guitar and a vocalzone for Chris Turpin helped him give us a rousing song in the second half. 

Bryony, who usually prepares this write-up, is also still under the weather so this one is much shorter than usual. Despite the inclement weather the turnout was quite high and an enjoyable evening was had by all, even those that just came into the RAFA club for a drink, paid, stayed and enjoyed, made favourable noises about returning.’

A few photographs of the night

When and where and all that stuff

Swindon Folk club meets on the FIRST and THIRD FRIDAY of every month from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

The venue is the RAFA Club, 41-43 Belle Vue Rd, Swindon SN1 3HN. The club has a licensed bar, car parking (at the rear) and level access.

You can e-mail the club at swindonfolkclub@gmail.com

And now a few short video clips

Alan Rothwell at Swindon Folk club

Alan Rothwell does a much-loved blast from my childhood past, Messing about on the River:
https://youtu.be/cexP4OaXwJc

And Goodnight Irene

Alfred Williams

If you’re not aware, Swindon polymath Alfred Williams took it upon himself to cycle around Wiltshire transcribing Wiltshire folk songs before they were lost. They’re all on stored on this database.

I wrote about Alfred’s life in Secret Swindon. And Ranikhet featured in Swindon in 50 Buildings.

More on Alfred Williams here in this petition opposing proposed development in front of Ranikhet.

We Are Swindon: Positive Swindon

We Are Swindon: Positive Swindon

It’s so fabulous to meet another Swindon enthusiast. Which is why, the other week, I enjoyed having a good chat with Michelle Jones – the power behind the Positive Swindon social media campaign, over coffee in DaPaolo’s on Commercial Road.

Michelle Jones - We are Swindon in front of the bandstand in Swindon's Town Gardens.
©Calyx Picture Agency Michelle Jones who has run Positive Swindon twitter account for last three years Michelle runs this twitter account Positive Swindon for people to share photos and positive things about Swindon. She gets a lot of photos sent in from Coate Water and places at the Lawns.

Four years ago, in 2015, Michelle wanted to do something to help local people to speak in positive terms about Swindon. She also wanted to encourage more pride within the town.

 At the time Michelle had two young daughters and she didn’t want them to feel embarrassed about the town of their birth. She also felt the need to reduce the amount of negative press the town received.

From living in Portsmouth and London for a few years, Michelle realised that most of the negativity was actually aimed at Swindon came from some Swindonians. But then working on Swindon economic development marketing campaigns showed Michelle the opposite side of the coin. People that want to combat the negative perceptions by being positive about the town.

The We Are Swindon Instagram account was born and the hashtag #we_are_swindon became tagged on more and more positive photos. By sharing local people’s own positive photographs of Swindon, Michelle has been able to share over 1,000 photos. The #we_are_swindon hashtag has now been used over 5,000. 

Michelle said “I remember when I first started #we_are_swindon on Instagram and got stuck on 17 followers. In the main my friends. I felt so frustrated and almost gave up. 

In the end though, my determination and belief in Swindon kept me going. I’d like to thank all the 2,415 followers we now have. The campaign would be nothing without them and I’m so proud that it is giving people with positive things to say and photography to share a platform”.

Some of Michelle’s photographs

Find Michelle’s work in the ether

Instagram: www.instagram.com/we_are_swindon/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/We-Are-Swindon
Twitter: https://twitter.com/We_Are_Swindon

A Swindon Wordsmith – George Ewart Hobbs

A Swindon Wordsmith – George Ewart Hobbs

A Swindon Wordsmith: The Life, Times and Works of George Ewart Hobbs

Well here’s a bit of a novelty, as Graham Carter himself commented. What is? Me attending someone else’s book launch for a change. Rather than them being at mine – info on my own publications here.

For today saw the launch, at Swindon Central library of a new Swindon book by Noel Ponting and Graham Carter: A Swindon Wordsmith: The Life, Times and Works of George Ewart Hobbs.

And a wonderful addition to Swindon’s own, extensive, literary canon it is.

In this short video, Darryl Moody of Swindon’s fab Local Studies and Noel Ponting talk about the book:

https://youtu.be/zB8GVVo0X64

Who was George Ewart Hobbs?

A Swindon Wordsmith - George Ewart Hobbs - front cover of the book.

The blurb on the book’s back cover tells us that George Ewart Hobbs deserves a place in the hallowed ranks of fellow Swindon writers, Alfred Williams (see Secret Swindon for some information about him) and Richard Jeffries – see also Secret Swindon and Swindon in 50 Buildings.

Our man Hobbs was no exception to the general Swindon rule: for over half a century he worked as a Great Western Railway engineer.

That aside, he wrote prolifically – largely in weekly columns for the Swindon Advertiser.

This book then is more than an account of his life and times. It also, as the title suggests, republishes some of his works. Including articles about religion, philosophy and more.

As the book blurb says: ‘George Ewart Hobbs’ vivid writing provides us with a unique and brilliantly observed insight into everyday and so-called “ordinary” life in Swindon a century ago.’

You can find the book in Swindon Central Library and also on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Swindon-Wordsmith-times-works-George/dp/190697876X

A Swindon Wordsmith - George Ewart Hobbs - Graham Carter and Noel Ponting

A few words from Graham Carter:

https://youtu.be/3PMZrPuXgOE

A few more photos – and for once we have visual storyteller Royston Cartwright in a photograph. A rare sight indeed.

See also – Other recent Swindon books:

Last Orders – by John Stooke

Legacy of a Rag & Bone Man – Eastcott community


Sharing Swindon’s Story

Sharing Swindon’s Story

Over the past year, in a project coordinated by the Mechanics’ Institution Trust, thirty-five young Swindonians learnt lots of amazing things about our town. What they learned is on this Sharing Swindon’s Story website.

sharing swindon's story
The project participants outside Central Community Centre – once the Medical Fund Society Hospital

NB: Both Secret Secret Swindon and Swindon in 50 Buildings between them tell of the Medical Fund Society, the Mechanics’ Institution, the GWR Railway Village and central community centre.

Funding partners

The organisations that enabled this project to take place are:

The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon.

Some of what the youngsters did

On the Sharing Swindon’s Story website here, you can find out more about what they got up to.

‘Starting in Summer 2018, 35 young people based at Central Community Centre in Swindon’s historic and award-winning Railway Village began a project to create artworks inspired by the heritage around them and share these with the local community.

‘Sharing Swindon’s Story’ focused on the community and cultural heritage of our town, linked to the first generations of ‘New Swindonians’ and the Mechanics’ Institution.’

A group of 11-16 year olds from the local youth club designed and led the project.

sharing swindons story

See this YouTube film to hear the youngsters talking about their activities: https://youtu.be/MVAsKZtMTfU

Read the rest of the story and see loads of photographs on the website here: https://swindonstory.uk/the-project/

Their social media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SwindonStory

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SwindonStory

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/swindonstory/

Artwork on the hoardings around the Mechanics’ Institute

I think I’ve got them in the right order!