Incomparable service to literature in Swindon

An open letter to Matt Holland: For thirty years you have done an extraordinary thing. You have offered to Swindon, in a range of creative sessions including, presentations, panel debates, interactive shows and cross-cultural performances, the celebration and enjoyment of words.

You also offered chances for new thoughts and ideas, new ways of seeing, new ways of being, so we all might re-consider our understanding of that "tricky" thing called life and perhaps choose to change our behaviours. Thousands upon thousands of lives have been impacted over the thousands of sessions you have steadfastly organised during those "dark November days".

The Swindon Festival of Literature has been enthusiastically embraced by significant numbers in Swindon, and further afield. I have lost count of the times that officialdom has listed the Festival as being a factor in why Swindon is a great place to live or why Swindon should be awarded a particular grant or status.

We will all miss the "Fifth session on the fifth day of the fifteenth day of the fifteenth Swindon Festival of Literature."

We will miss "We now have 23 minutes and 14 seconds for questions" the "Unless you are a midwife ..." the "Let's give a Swindon Festival of Literature welcome to ... Matt Harvey, Mo Mowlam, Sir Richard Attenborough, The Chipolatas!" (to name just a few).

We regular festival fans can all now quote the story of the 16 wheeled lorry that ran over the tiny handbell, yet it survived with an even sweeter ring. May your retirement now, in which we suspect you will keep busy, have many fresh, new, sweet rings of your own choosing.

I would like to thank you Matt, on behalf of all those audience members over thirty years. Thank you also for your incomparable service to Literature in its many guises and for your contributions to the quality of life in Swindon.

Tony Hillier

Supporter of Swindon Festival of Literature

Swindon’s Community Poet

Diabetes risk for men

With half as many men finding out their personal risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to women, we are inviting men under 40 in Swindon to understand their risk by completing our free Know Your Risk tool.

It only takes a few minutes and we’re making this call to kick off Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week (May 22-28), an NHS England initiative supported by Diabetes UK and Tesco.

Type 2 diabetes is serious and recent analysis of NHS data by Diabetes UK and Tesco found that cases of the condition – historically associated with older people – are rising at a faster rate among those under 40 than in those over 40.

However, research has consistently shown that for some people, combined lifestyle interventions – including diet, physical activity, and sustained weight loss – can be effective in reducing their risk by about 50 per cent.

Tesco and Diabetes UK are offering recipes that are nutritionally balanced for those at risk of diabetes, living with it, or not on available at Tesco Real Food (

Tesco is working with Diabetes UK and two other leading health charities to help tackle the UK’s biggest health challenges.

You can find the Know Your Risk tool, and information about Type 2 diabetes, at the Diabetes UK website (

Phaedra Perry

Diabetes UK