I saw ‘three’ of the best at Henley Literary Festival 2013.

WOW – what a Literary Festival for 2013 in Henley this year.  Their has been a real buzz in Henley all week and I am, in my capacity as SJD Events Limited really pleased to be involved once again for the sixth year.

The festival is brought to us by founder, Sue Ryan alongside her daughter Harriet and an amazing team of volunteers.   The quality of the authors is second to known and the venues which are used compliment the event.   This year, I have really enjoyed the three I have been able to attend.

Firstly it was entertainment, then politics and then action, but they all had one thing in common which I have taken inspiration from and, that is the fact all authors were ‘professional’, ‘dedicated’ and ‘focused’.

So, who did I see this year?

Well, we started off on Monday when I was sponsoring Major Sir Michael Parker.

Sir micahel

And, with SJD Events as the sponsor it meant my guests and I had the ring side seats at the front and I had my 30 seconds of fame at the start.  A picture of the two of us will follow in due course.

He started off by saying he was not political correct and that his book was all about ‘cock up’s’ and I won’t elaborate on how he described that but, for the politically correct the book is  ‘It’s All Going Terrible Wrong’.

Well, Major Sir Michael Parker was a legend in his fifty year career by creating some of the most memorable events for the Royals.  From Royal Weddings to, the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday, to the Silver Jubilee to, the Royal Tournament over a 25 year span to mention a few.    Being that I am in the events industry one thing I will take away is that, if you don’t tell them the whole running order they don’t if anything is missing and how true.   He shared his eight rule success to his events and whereas it’s slightly different for me, I could however resonate with the:

  1. Big Ideas
  2. If it’s easy it’s not worth doing – challenge
  3. Never take the easy way out
  4. Be ambitious – go the extra mile
  5. Never regard ‘no’ as an acceptable answer
  6. Don’t tell everyone the plan then they won’t know if it changes
  7. Build relationships with the key people in case you need them
  8. Have fun and make it fun

It was a truly great hour spent at the Kenton Theatre and I am happy that I chose to sponsor him.

Then, on Wednesday evening it was Ann Widdecombe who was being interviewed by John Stapleton again at the Kenton about her autobiography ‘Strictly Ann’.

Ann WiddicombeJohn Stspleton

Everyone knows Ann Widdecombe whether from her dancing appearance in strictly or from her successful political career, she was and still is an inspirational lady who I believe has given many people a voice.

Having stepped down as an MP in 2010 her life changed and she could have a life and have fun and she certainly did that, from strictly to her own TV show, to panto performances and we saw a really radiant lady.    Her career as an MP was not easy and when she stood the selection committee were unsure as to whether the constituents could handle a women, well she showed them. During her time as an MP she had some amazing positions and stories to share from Prison Services to her Maiden Speech in the House.  You’ll have to buy her autobiography to hear all about it.

And, then lastly today it was David Blakeley, who was amazing but then I am biased, as I love hearing about men in uniform but that’s for another time.  Anyway, he was at the Red Lion and was being interviewed by Defence Correspondent, Alastair Bunkall of Sky.

david blakeleyAlaister Bunkall interviewer for David

I had an opportunity to speak to David prior to the event as we waited in the lobby of the hotel and we discussed what happens when you leave the forces and what support is on offer.  I referred to Walking with the Wounded and Combat Stress which are the two charities close to my heart as I raise monies for them through Flannels4Heroes.  He had been injured and spent some time at Hedley Court and obviously had friends who had been affected too so the charity links interested him and he referred to our chat in the interview.

Anyway, his talk was related to his book ‘Maverick One’, all about his career in the armed forces and more specifically, the elite part of the armed forces that he was privileged to be part of, namely he was a Pathfinder.  Many of you won’t know what a Pathfinder is and I can’t disclose it either, only to say its Britain’s secret soldiers.  He shared stories firstly of how he chose to pursue a career in the forces and after joining the PARA’s how he had the drive to become a pathfinder, one of the elite.   He shared the gruelling six weeks selection training and it was not for the faint hearted but he was a PARA and the success rate was low and if I recall from the 60 who started only 9 finished.   I think boot camp once a week hurts but, as he said it is all about having the right mind-set and knowing you have to fight the pain barriers as it is a means to an end.  He also shared stories of his missions as a Pathfinder and then since leaving his journey  to have this book published so, we as the public can hear it first-hand.   A real inspirational talk and I look forward to reading it.

book for david

2013 Henley Literary Festival has been a real inspiration for me as I will take away something different from all those who I heard.

From Sir Michael Parker, it will be,that it is alright if something goes wrong as long as I stay close to the client and the show goes on so, no more panic’s at my events.

From Ann, I will take her determination to represent her constituents / people, as I embark myself into local politics.  Even now being a woman and of a certain age has its hurdle – say no more.

Then, from David, I will just take inspiration.  What he achieved in ten or so years in the forces I will never achieve.   So, I am going to end this with a quote from David’s book by Winston Churchill as its perfect and sums up how I feel:

Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in to convictions of honour and good sense.  Never yield to forces, never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy’  Winston Churchill, Speech, 1941

That might be more suitable for a military person but it’s for everyone so read it slowly and enjoy.

The Henley Literary Festival continues till Sunday 6th October – check it out at www.henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk.


About sjdeventsltd

Owner of SJP Consultancy, specialising in offering, flexible services for all types of events, including fundraising projects in the charity sector.
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