Our annual summer residential programme is usually hosted at Lumb Bank, Arvon’s idyllic venue in rural West Yorkshire. The pandemic kept us away for a second consecutive year. But after last year’s virtual success, we were excited to offer another brilliant digital experience.
Widespread disappointment at being kept physically apart by the Coronavirus for another year, was nonetheless tempered by excitement about the potential of the digital platform. Building on the best of 2020’s virtual residential, we knew we could offer this year’s cohort of young writers just as much fun, engagement and learning.
Participants would be masterfully guided through a packed week of writing by three exceptional professionals: John Berkavitch, Vicky Foster, and Nik Perring. Three very different but equally inspiring leaders, who each day delivered engaging, challenging and fun writing exercises.
I’ve never felt so emotionally attached to a group. I am going to miss coming online to this residential.”Roxanne, participant
Like last year, we welcomed a remarkably committed and diligent group — eagerly logging on each morning and remaining attentively online all day. Each made their creative intentions clear from the outset: they were attending this course because they wanted to write and to grow and to share. This was their rallying point. As the five days flew by, each of the young writers’ unique styles and personalities burst through the digital ether in poetry and prose.
There were many highlights of the week to pick from. Masterclass sessions featured activities both joyous and poignant; the one-to-one mentoring sessions were crammed with insights; and the small group sessions were focused and intimate.
Then there was the final day’s virtual showcase, attended by various encouraging family members, writers, teachers, First Story’s team, and teamArchie’s own Claire and James. Each in our little boxes on the screen, we listened attentively as each young writer stepped bravely into the virtual spotlight to share with us their new work.
What was so impressive to see was how, even after these young people endured a year of school closures and intermittent online learning, they each threw themselves enthusiastically into every aspect of the virtual residential experience. All came back, morning after morning, pens in hand, raring to go. We couldn’t imagine a more appreciative group and we can’t wait to reward their commitment with their own printed anthology, which will be published this autumn.
First Story is incredibly grateful to project funders teamArchie for its third consecutive year of support for the summer residential programme.
About the summer residential programme
Each July, First Story selects a group of up to 20 Young Writers Programme alumni to participate in a week-long residential writing course during the summer holidays. After demonstrating talent and commitment during the academic year, these young writers gain the opportunity to spend an incredible week together, honing their writing craft, receiving expert guidance from professional practitioners, and forming life-changing relationships with their peers.