Appledore book festival started in 2006 as a way to raise money for the local library, now known as the ‘Friendly Festival’ it attracts a great deal of interest from authors and attendees alike, on what is, a great week of entertainment and interesting talks.
The 2018 festival saw record ticket sales with some of the scheduled events having to move to bigger venues. The festival provided a great mix of authors and subjects all taking place in the beautiful North Devon village of Appledore.
This year’s line up of authors included Monty Python star and writer, Michael Palin talking about his new book Erebus at this it’s UK festival debut, other authors includes Kate Moss, Simon Mayo who was talking about his new book Mad Blood Stirring.
Fabulous Finn -‘Finn’s Law’
Sunday 23rd September
It’s often quoted in the press and on TV that ‘Britain is a Nation of Animal Lovers’.Sometimes a story comes to light that only reinforces this. On the evening of October 5th 2016, an incident took place that, over the coming days and weeks, would not only create both national and international headlines, but also start to pave the way for something truly touching and remarkable ….’Finns Law’. Police Dog handler Dave Wardell, had responded, along with his service Dog Finn, to the scene of a suspected robbery.
Within moments, both Dave and Finn’s lives would be changed forever, both being attacked by the suspect whilst attempting to avoid arrest. Finn, taking the brunt of the attack, being stabbed in both the chest multiple times and slashed across the head with a large combat knife.
What followed was to be months of anguish, fear and, ultimately, hard work; the ultimate aim being bringing Finn back to health. Dave, also suffering with PTSD (Something he openly and honestly discusses within the book) made it his mission to try and change things for the better, for all service animals and highlight the current law to the general public.
Sadly, under current law, any attacks or actual bodily harm that service animals suffer can only be charged as ‘Criminal Damage’ Dave was intent on doing anything and everything possible to raise public awareness and thus attempt to right this legal wrong! The attempt to change things for the better was born….’Finns Law’. In Dave’s words:
“Finn stopped the knife from reaching me and saved my life. Even after being stabbed through the lung Finn did not let go of the suspect until the other Police units arrived and arrested him. Finn was not expected to make it through the night. The suspect was charged with ABH for the injuries to me, and only ‘Criminal Damage’ for the horrific injuries to Finn.
This is currently one of the available charges for someone who seriously injures or kills a Police or service animal in the line of duty as they are considered as being property. I hope you agree this is not acceptable, Finn isn’t a plant pot or a window and shouldn’t be treated as such. Eventually, after more than 6 months of legal arguments, our attacker was found guilty.
We believe that our service animals fulfil such an important role in supporting society that they deserve to be protected from harm. It is our aim to the change the law to give them that protection”
On Finnslaw.com, there are a number of upsetting photographs taken only hours after the attack. Especially moving are Dave’s words that accompany the views of Finn, strapped up on the operating table:
“These are the very first pictures I took at the vets. This was about an hour in and the reason for taking them was that he was fading in front of us. I thought he was going to die and this might be my last pictures of him alive.”
Meeting Dave and Finn on Sunday 23rd September at the beautiful Appledore Baptist Church were a great many people both touched and interested in Finn’s story.
Dave clearly loves Finn a great deal and more than once referred to him as ‘my best mate’ – Even when in serious trouble, Finn had attempted to clean Dave’s hand injury, something that even now Dave still finds difficult to talk about. The bravery to not only talk about past events, along with seeing Finn in such good health now, only enforces the remarkable work that these pair have achieved…together!
The lecture and overview of the book touched on both Dave’s background and childhood,
commenting on his early life growing up in East London and the way in which family life shaped his view of the world. It was during these early years that Dave found his love for dogs, something that has only grown stronger over the years.
‘Fabulous Finn, is a wonderful true-life story of triumph over adversity. It involves the reader in feelings of incredible lows, devastation and heartbreak, all the way through to the warm fuzziness of happiness and feeling complete. Prepare yourself for truly literary emotional roller coaster ride!
Support ‘Finns Law’ – It’s a truly wonderful campaign. Get involved!
Breaking the Mould – Pamela Vass
Friday 26th September
On the 4th August 1913 a Lynton mansion was destroyed. The papers blamed the suffragette movement. Truth or Fiction? Pamela Vass talked through the theories, the facts and the stories of these women.
Starting the talk, Pamela arrived at the packed out St Mary’s Hall dressed in the well known colours of the suffrogettes, purple and green. The talk revealed the fascinating story of gaining the right to vote for women in North Devon, of the women who campaigned locally and nationally as well as some of the history and conflicts within this movement which eventually gave women the right to vote.
Kate Williams -Rival Queens – Sunday 23rd September
An interesting take on the ‘Rival Queens’
Sunday 23rd September
Professor Kate Williams. described as an ‘Outstanding Talent’ and ‘One of our Finest Young Historians’, is clearly passionate about her subject and her CV, alongside her skill for entertaining the crowd, is evidence of this.
The venue for this lecture was the beautiful St. Mary’s Church, this lecture has attracted a great deal of visitors wishing to listen to Kate talk about the new book – It was a full house!
Kate’s latest book ‘Rival Queens; The Betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots’ is a new and interesting take on an age-old story – 2 women, related as cousins, both with eyes on the throne of England.
Elizabeth, Queen of England is often seen as ruthless but in Kate’s book, she gives another angle of thought and brings us Mary; a forgotten, and equally clever figure who dreams of an everlasting friendship with her cousin.
For Elizabeth, Mary is a treat; but, had events panned out differently, Kate argues that the outcome could well have been very different.
Kate was received with rapturous applause, and what followed was a very interesting and enjoyable open session on both the new book and the many facets of Tudor life.
Focusing on both Women, Kate gave an intriguing new perspective with all the politics, betrayal, differences in religious denomination and assassination attempts, which would ultimately end in a ‘Devastating Betrayal’.
Kate’s lecture covered the many theories of both women’s relationship with each other, along with slides of period tapestries, and documents of the time.
The lecture was a wonderful mix of history and testimony, tied together with elements of humour and thought-provoking theories.
Her presentation skills truly brought both women back to life, making the afternoon a thoroughly enjoyable one.
Michael Palin – Erebus
Friday 28th September
Appledore book festival’s website crashed when tickets came online for Michael Palin’s much anticipated Erebus book tour . The headline tour was sold old, and the orginial venue was deemed not big enough for the number of people wanting to come along, that they had to move to Bideford’s Kingsley School
Erebus: The Story of a Ship is Michael Palin’s latest book based on the events of HMS Erebus and the crew during her polar expeditions. H.M.S Erebus and her sister ship set sail for the Artic and were tragically never seen again, however in 2014 she was found submerged off the Artic coast of Canada.
Michael Palin entertained and engaged the audience in the Kingsley School Hall, with how he has researched the book, the story as it unfolds and his connections to writing this fascinating historical account. The start of the book details the adventures that were taken by the crew, whilst Michael compares and contrasts with his own adventures and experiences it made for a very informative talk, it is interesting to listen to the accounts and letters of the officers and crew only adding a personal touch to the story of H.M.S Erebus.