Writing it down with friends

Globe journalist and author Leslie Mitchell gets chapter and verse on the Solent Writers Circle

AFTER attending the June meeting of Solent Writers Circle, adjudicating and presenting the Lavinia Hammond Trophy to the winner of one of their annual short story competitions, Mandy Shearing – whose entry ‘Doing Time’ can be enjoyed in The Globe – I was curious to learn more.

I arranged to meet the Chairperson, Mrs Barbara Grosvenor, who was happy to fill me in on the history of the group, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary, and to explain how the group runs.

Meet the Chairperson

The Circle was formed in 1981, starting in the home of a founder member, and soon had a membership of around 30 people coming from Gosport and the surrounding areas to meet one evening a month.

Although the venue has changed several times over the years
their common bond remains a love of writing, either with hope that they might become published authors or simply for their own enjoyment.

At each meeting members are given news of forthcoming competitions and workshops, locally or nationally.

Members’ literary successes are recorded in a book. Every month
members are given a topic as preparation for the next meeting. They can interpret this as they wish and should confine themselves to between 500 and 600 words.

At the next meeting the stories are read out and, if the writer agrees, positive feedback is given.

Annually, members can compete in spring for the Lavinia Hammond Trophy, i awared for a work of fiction, and in autumn they may enter a humorous story for the Anthony Collinson trophy.

Submitted under a pen name

All entries are submitted under a pen name, to ensure anonymity, and must be no more than 1,000 words long. An invitee adjudicates.

Anthony was a member of the group for several years, enjoying success in winning National. However there is a bit of a mystery about who Lavinia Hammond is/was. Can any Globe reader tell us?

While membership numbers have fluctuated over the years and is less now than it was in its heyday, the age range remains wide which leads to the present group supporting each other’s efforts as a warm and welcoming circle of friends.

Several of the present members of the Circle have had their work published as books or short stories for magazines.

Barbara (pictured) describes the group’s ‘star member’ as Patsy Collins, who has had several books and over 200 short stories published in magazines. The Globe hopes to print an interview with Patsy in the near future.
Drawing on her experiences gained while working at Langdale Nursing Home, in Gosport, Barbara had recognised a need to support resident’s activities.

Specially written short stories

‘Telling Tales’, a compilation of specially written short stories by members of Solent Writers Circle is now available as a resource pack. These are described as Five-Minute Reads ideal for reading out loud to adult family members, friends and residents of care or nursing homes who may no longer be able to read for themselves or who have a short attention span but enjoy hearing a story.

In her experience hearing one of the stories often generates a discussion and awakens memories.

Having had to resort to Zoom meetings for the past 15 months Solent Writers Circle, following the relaxation of Covid 19 restrictions, now meets on the third Tuesday of each month from 7-9pm at Lee Hub (formerly Lee on the Solent Library) on Lee High Street .

Membership of this group is £27 per annum and a warm welcome is extended to new members.

For more details email solentwriters@gmail.com , or check out their website.