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by Eileen Leahy | September 19, 2021
The Friends of Tunbridge Wells Museum, Library & Art Gallery has just launched a pandemic friendship poetry competition. The Times learns more about it …
During the first months of confinement, we couldn’t see our friends and family unless we were in a supportive bubble with them. This has led a large part of us to use Zoom and other digital communication platforms in order to stay in touch.
During this period of âstaying at homeâ it became clear to most that maintaining contact with our fellow human beings was precious, and that connectivity and friendship were extremely important and valuable.
One group of friends who had to go from an in-person meeting to an online communication was the Friends of Tunbridge Wells Museum, Library & Art Gallery (FTWMLAG).
If you don’t already know them, in short, they were created 15 years ago to establish a connection between the staff of the aforementioned cultural services of the council and members of the community at large.
Since 2006, they organize walks, talks, quizzes, garden parties, tours and many other activities. Through these events, FTWMLAG has raised funds for many projects, allowing the museum and library to purchase or restore various items.
This includes Â£ 10,000 for the conservation of a Georgian dress which will be on display next year in the new Amelia Scott Cutural Center.
The group also helped the City Council of the Borough of Tunbridge Wells win the Heritage Lottery offer in 2015, which allowed the Amelia Scott project to move forward.
âOur existence was important in obtaining the funding for the lottery for the Amelia Scott, because it was necessary to show that the project had the involvement and the support of the general publicâ, explains Anne Forster, member of the FTWMLAG committee.
So it’s fair to say that it’s a pretty formidable organization full of passionate people who want to see the city’s cultural tapestry thrive and survive for future generations.
During the blockages, they were always able to “meet” thanks to Zoom. This allowed members to continue discussing future fundraising plans and discussing the development of Amelia, which is slated to open in the spring of 2022. But essentially, it also provided them with that very important contact that had been taken away. to so many people during this difficult time.
For those who couldn’t communicate digitally, FTWMLAG President Anne Stobo kept in touch by writing articles, including a magazine article on the conservation work being done on Georgian dress.
âI wrote an article for the Tunbridge Wells Community Magazine Advertising and as a result received a very generous offer from a supporter. He said he would donate Â£ 100 as a cash prize for a poetry competition.
âYou can imagine my joy! In these very difficult and unprecedented times of a pandemic, friends and friendship are indeed essential. Old, new, yesteryear, yesterday – all essential to our care and well-being, which is why we have chosen this as the subject of the poetry competition, âshe explains.
âCelebrating friendship seems very appropriate in these confusing times. It could be an unexpected phone call or a meeting on Zoom. Whatever your inspiration, your contributions will be most appreciated. You don’t have to be a blacksmith or an expert, it just needs to be an original, unpublished piece.
The jury will be composed of poet and children’s author Mara Bergman; Emily Bennett, who is a Creative Writing Tutor at the Tunbridge Wells Adult Learning Center; and Eileen Leahy, associate editor of the Tunbridge Wells schedule.
The competition, launched last week, is open to all ages, from adults to teens and under 12s, and encourages people to write a poem that reflects what friendship means to them.
The registration deadline is October 13, 2021 and admission for adults is Â£ 5 and free for children. The adult price is Â£ 100 with Â£ 75 for a finalist, who will go to an adult education course.
The winner of the Young Adult (12-18) category will receive a Â£ 20 book token, and the winner of the Under 12 group will receive a Â£ 10 token.
Checks should be made payable to The Friends of Tunbridge Wells Museum Library & Art Gallery and all proceeds will go to the Amelia Scott Collection.
To submit your poem and request more information, please email: [email protected]
The Friendship Competition is supported by the Tunbridge Wells schedule and the Kent Adult Education Center, Tunbridge Wells.