TV star Joanna wows book fest

The annual Wigtown Book Festival was given a cracking start at the weekend.

Hundreds of people flocked to the town for the opening events, and were rewarded with bright sunshine and warm weather.

Joanna Lumley in the garden with "fairies"

Joanna Lumley in the garden with "fairies"

Centre of attention for most people was the appearance of TV star and campaigner Joanna Lumley, who wowed the crowds with a bravura performance in her talk in the ScottishPower marquee.

She also delighted fans by sitting for a book signing session afterwards, and spent more than an hour autographing copies of her book Absolutely, posing for photographs with festival-goers and chatting to the public.

She also spoke of how much she loves the Dumfries and Galloway region, revealing that she and her husband have a cottage on the Drumlanrig estate.

In addition, she spoke passionately about her involvement in the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust initiative to save Moat Brae House in Dumfries and transform it into a centre for children’s literature.

“I am a great fan of this area,” Joanna said. “I have a cottage just north of Thornhill and we come up here all the time.

“We fell in love with the area and to be invited to the book festival is absolutely fantastic.

“The other reason I’m here is the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust in Dumfries and the restoration of that beautiful house where J M Barrie first dreamed up the idea for Peter Pan, Neverland, the lost boys, the Indians, Captain Hook and the crocodile.

“And so this has all come together to make a very sweet and glorious day in Wigtown.

“This augurs well for our trust because we have to get in £100,000 worth of windows before the winter – and we are going to do it!”

Book festival director Adrian Turpin was clearly thrilled by how well everything was going. “We have got a good story to tell about ourselves but we are not the biggest festival or the most glamorous – we are quite grassroots.

“I hope everyone enjoys themselves: there are all kinds of events, there are visual arts things, there’s a Camper Obscura, there’s a beach and there are lots of nooks and crannies to explore around town.”

He also thanked ScottishPower for its sponsorship, saying: “We are very grateful for the support from a company like ScottishPower. Huge credit to them for coming in.”

ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson was fulsome in his praise for the festival. “We set up a new foundation this year to work with communities, and we do that every day. So this book festival, for us, is a fantastic fit as it is very much a community event.”

He also quipped: “Adrian said this is not the most glamorous but I don’t think it gets much more glamorous than Joanna Lumley!”

He added: “It’s brilliant to see the impact that the festival has on the local economy. There are now more than 20 book-related business in the town.

“We are also sponsoring the Poetry Slam to get youngsters interested in poetry. It’s all about getting youngsters involved in the festival. It’s a fantastic idea.”