Ryedale Book Festival’s P-Factor Grand Final is one of the highlights of my year. Primary-school children from across Ryedale come together at the imposing Milton Rooms in Malton to compete, each school fielding a team that performs a poem they’ve learnt. It’s a hugely uplifting and inspiring event.
This year’s P-Factor took place on Friday. My co-judges on this occasion were Wes Magee, who had the children eating out of his hand in his morning set, and Audrie Woodhouse, who gave the children excellent advice on how to prepare for a performance. I saw it as part of my role (as Head Honcho judge) to inspire the children, in my morning set, for the competition that lay ahead. Here’s a snippet of how I went about doing that:
And shine like stars the children really did! From the very first performance – by Foston Primary, of a World War 1 poem – to the very last performance – by Terrington Primary, of a Roald Dahl Revolting Rhyme – we, the judges and audience (watching both live in Malton and via the live-stream back to schools), were, variously, moved, entertained, frightened and intrigued. Yes, these talented children conjured up a whole gamut of emotions in us. And they took us to an airport, a classroom, a battlefield, a family dining room, a deep dark forest – all on the stage before our very eyes. What a joy!
However, there was one fly in the ointment. Very sadly, there were fewer schools competing than in previous years. Why? Austerity. AKA: cuts. Wellburn Hall School, for example, a special school whose children had entertained us so fabulously last year, has since suffered such savage cuts that it has had to lose umpteen members of staff. Cuts, cuts, cuts.
When you see how much the children gain from this competition – in their schools as they prepare, on the day of the competition itself, and afterwards too – it is a crying, crying shame that ‘austerity’ has deprived so many of them of the opportunity to take part.
But back to the good news! We may not have had the quantity this year, but we sure had quality! This year’s extremely worthy winners were Langton Primary, with a sensational performance of Ogden Nash’s ‘Adventures of Isabel’.
Runners-up this year were Terrington Primary, with their stonking performance of Red Riding Hood (with a Roald Dahl twist).
The P-Factor Grand Final happens thanks to the work of myriad people, including the staff (and parents) at the various schools, Ryedale Book Festival staff and volunteers, and the Milton Rooms tech people. I’d like to thank every one of them. Not forgetting the Mayor of Malton, who lends the event such kudos by attending and awarding the children their medals. (It was lovely chatting with him and the Mayoress afterwards and discovering just how much they enjoy, and look forward to, this event.) And a big thank you, too, to Lowfield Garage in Malton, which helps to sponsor the event.
But, er, I don’t suppose any of you reading this happen to know a millionaire you could tap for an extra bob or two to help more schools take part in next year’s P-Factor … . Actually, it needn’t be a millionaire, as the sums involved are really quite small (in the great scheme of things). But if there did happen to be anyone/any local companies with a spare bob or two, then do please ask them to get in contact with Sarah Tyson, who (indefatigably and very inspiringly) runs Ryedale Book Festival. (Check out this festival’s fabulous events here.)
P.S. The P-Factor was originally the idea of Andy Seed, who has now moved down to Gloucestershire. Thank you Andy! Your P-Factor legacy lives on up here!
P.P.S. They’ve asked me back to be Head Honcho judge again next year. I’m looking forward to it already!