BUDDING musicians, actors and public speakers got used to handling the nerves of performing in public at the Royal Wootton Basset Arts Festival.

More than 250 people took part in the event at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, which started at 9.30am on Saturday and finished with a highlights concert yesterday.

Events included speech, drama and classical guitar. It started with poetry and prose reading on Saturday followed by solo, group and Shakespearean acting. Mime, poetry and Bible readings were performed on Sunday.

Gregory Strangward-Pryce landed a trophy with a solo acting piece adapted from The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe.

The 11-year-old, from Malmesbury, said: “When I went up to perform I was lost for words at first.

“I thought I would come second or third as there was a girl with a good character from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I chose a character I could relate to and knew I could make real.”

The festival has become so popular that it has to be held on two occasions in the year, the first being in June, when musicians and singers were showcased.

Organiser Miranda Shirnia said: “There has been some really good quality work and the children have all had fun as well.”

The performances were assessed by independent judges.

Mrs Shirnia, whose nine-year-old daughter Liberty won trophies for acting and poetry, said: “It’s important to do something different which doesn’t always find time in the school curriculum.

“If you can get up and perform in front of the adjudicators when you are young, it is less scary when you are older. Not everyone can win, but everyone can benefit from becoming more confident.”