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BAFTA-award winning actress Jessica Hynes joins audio trail of short stories in Folkestone


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An audio trail of six short stories written by residents and visitors has been launched in Folkestone.

The stories - one read by film and TV actress Jessica Hynes - can be accessed in the Lower Leas Coastal park.

Peter Jonathan, who regularly visits Folkestone, is an up and coming writer. Picture: Igor Emmerich/Michele Sheldon
Peter Jonathan, who regularly visits Folkestone, is an up and coming writer. Picture: Igor Emmerich/Michele Sheldon

The StoryMap project comes from Hand of Doom Productions, a community interest company, who launched a short story competition last year.

The aim of the project was to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to write and tell stories about the town, inspired by its landscape and heritage.

It also aims to boost mental health wellbeing through storytelling as well as encourage people to get out into the fresh air.

Six stories were chosen as winners, one from eight-year-old Martha Brook who was inspired by playing on the sunken pirate ship at the coastal park with her brother and sister, who also feature in her tale.

BAFTA-award winning actress Jessica Hynes lives in Folkestone. Picture: Raga Gibreel
BAFTA-award winning actress Jessica Hynes lives in Folkestone. Picture: Raga Gibreel

Her story, Martha and the Pirates, is read by twice BAFTA-award winning actress Mrs Hynes - star of films including Paddington 2 and Shaun of the Dead, plus TV comedies Spaced and Years and Years - who lives in Folkestone.

Another was written by 18-year-old Joseph, who is in his first year of studying history at Oxford University and was the 2018 winner of the Young Walter Scott Prize.

His story The Gentlemen’s Club is inspired by his interest in early 20th century British history when modernity was beginning to take hold yet society was still heavily influenced by the Victorians.

It is read by Folkestone actor Alex MacLaren, who has performed everything from Shakespeare to Panto over the years.

Actor and comedian Sallyann Fellowes wrote Silverlight after discovering Hawkinge Community Centre, a venue she’s performed comedy in many times, used to be a Second World War RAF base.

Actor and comedian Sallyann Fellowes was inspired to write her story Silverlight after discovering Hawkinge Community Centre used to be a Second World War RAF base. Picture: Igor Emmerich/ Michele Sheldon
Actor and comedian Sallyann Fellowes was inspired to write her story Silverlight after discovering Hawkinge Community Centre used to be a Second World War RAF base. Picture: Igor Emmerich/ Michele Sheldon

Another tale, from Louise Burgess, was inspired by the iconic Leas Lift, and architect Charlie Bain-Smith's story touches on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Peter Jonathan's story was inspired by the Troll Bridge and Billy Goats sculptures in the park and is read by BBC Radio Kent’s Dominic King.

Michele Sheldon, of Hand of Doom Productions, said: "Folkestone’s beautiful landscape and amazing history naturally lend themselves to storytelling and we were blown away by the array and quality of stories people submitted, many of whom had never written a short story, let alone considered entering a competition.

"What came across in these stories was how much love there is for Folkestone and its history.

"Lockdown has limited where people can visit and we’re hoping the audio trail will give residents something else to do while they walk around our beautiful town."

'What came across in these stories was how much love there is for Folkestone and its history...'

The project received funding from Folkestone Town Council, Folkestone and Hythe District Council and Kent County Council.

The audio trail is accessed via QR codes dotted along the park and can be read on the Folkestone StoryMap website at www.folkestonestorymap.co.uk or by clicking here.

Hand of Doom Productions is now looking for a seventh story to add to the trail at HG Wells’ former home in Sandgate and, once the pandemic is over, will resume workshops to encourage people of all ages to write more site specific stories about the town and district.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

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