On 2 November 2023 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, First Story celebrated reaching a milestone birthday. Our party and fundraiser ‘First Story is 15′ was hosted by First Story Ambassador Tracy Chevalier and attended by writers, friends and supporters.
In the elegant Regency surroundings of the ICA’s Nash and Brandon rooms, with iconic balcony views over The Mall and St. James’s Park, guests enjoyed a delicious three course menu and an evening of uplifting entertainment. The evening was hosted by Tracy Chevalier. Former First Story student Chloe Holland gave a compelling and witty speech. Then Testament, a former First Story writer, poet, theatre-maker and world record holding beatboxer, treated everyone to a jaw-dropping live performance.
The party was the last opportunity for guests to placed a bid to secure their favourite story in our unique literary auction, Six Word Stories, which ran online throughout October and closed during the event. Some of the authors featured in the auction were at the party, including Louise Doughty, Francesca Simon and Joanne Harris, as well as our host, Tracy Chevalier. Also in attendance were many current and former First Story writers, including Dean Atta, Alan Buckley, Peter Hobbs, Stephanie Cross, Luan Goldie, Paul Lyalls and Mr Gee.
Various literary and cultural treats were up for grabs during the evening too, in our ‘Pot Luck Prize Draw’, which included: signed copies of the Booker Prize 2023 shortlist; a bundle of books and merchandise from the Women’s Prize; a pair of tickets to the Royal Opera House; a magnum of Yapp Brothers wine; a restored antique backgammon board and private lesson; a Cheltenham Festivals voucher; a weekend stay on the Isle of Wight; and a pair of tickets to a gig at the Roundhouse. Eight winners were drawn at random and their prizes were presented by First Story’s founders Katie Waldegrave and William Fiennes.
From the seed of a brilliant idea by a teacher and a writer, First Story has grown to become England’s leading creative writing charity for young people. In our first fifteen years, we have supported thousands of underserved students to develop their creativity, confidence, writing ability and talent. Since 2008, First Story has also professionally published over 550 anthologies, transforming many thousands of aspiring young writers into published authors with their own book in the collection of the British Library.
With thanks to everyone who attended ‘First Story is 15′ and who took part in the auction and prize draw, almost £30,000 was raised to help fund First Story’s transformative programmes in 2024.