A SUCCESSFUL Swindon writers’ group for mothers is celebrating its sixth anniversary this year, with a series of special events to motivate mums to begin their own writing journey.

Mum’s the Word, based at Lower Shaw Farm, in Old Shaw Lane, was set up by former Adver columnist Liz Millington and poet Hilda Sheehan, with funding from Artsword.

Following eight pilot sessions, the writers’ group went from strength to strength. It now has a new website and is extending an invitation to new members to join and develop their writing practice.

Emma Smith, member and mother of Millie, eight, and Daisy, five, said the group offers her a space to relax, share writing and offer mutual support.

“It’s an opportunity for mums to meet and share their work.

“We have a really different mix of people – and it’s nice to be listened to!” she said.

“It’s a comforting and welcoming environment. There is no formal writing session – we chat then can share work. If someone has a project, we can talk about that.

“People can be sure they are not going to be judged. They can share writing if they want to, but they don’t have to.”

The group welcomes all mothers, especially those who always wanted to write but for whom the role of parent has been so absorbing that writing has had to take a back seat. It is suitable for complete beginners as well as more experienced writers.

When Liz set up the group, she was aiming to bring women from all walks of life together, to write about the experience of motherhood and what it means to be a mum, or to have a mum.

She hoped the group would encourage women who might never have written before to put pen to paper and tell a story.

Six years later, members are writing on all sorts of topics and with a variety of writing ambitions. Helen Allen is now the group’s coordinator.

Aspiring writer Emma has lived in Swindon for 15 years. She said she had loved writing since childhood, but it was motherhood that reignited her desire to write.

“Having children drew me back to it,” she explained.

“I was doing reading and writing with them, and I said to Millie I had wanted to be a writer, and she asked me why I couldn’t do it now.”

This inspired Emma to take a creative writing course at New College, led by Swindon poet Hilda Sheehan, and later, a course in journalism, and then a distance learning course in copy writing and copy editing.

She succeeded to publish a variety of reviews and articles, in print and online, and joined the Mum’s the Word writing group.

Emma grew up in Croydon, and after leaving school, worked as a manager in a department store then went travelling for a year and a half, around Asia and Australia.

“I loved the freedom, and meeting people and the cultural experience,” she recalled.

“But you have to come home eventually.”

She met and married husband Phil Smith, and they moved to Swindon.

Emma now works at the Aldi head office in Swindon four days a week, but she commits one day to her writing career.

Emma got involved with Swindon Artswords, a programme of Literature development activities in Swindon, run from Lower Shaw Farm and linked to Swindon Borough Council’s Swindon Libraries service, and she helps with their monthly newsletters.

She said Swindon was a great place to be a writer, with lots of events and groups to offer support.

“Some of our members want to be published and others are happy to keep writing for themselves.

“We’ve recently set up the website too.”

The first of the group’s sixth anniversary celebration events was a visit by guest speaker Donna Coulling – mum, writer and celebrity PA. Emma said the event was fantastic.

“As always at Lower Shaw Farm, the room was filled with laughter, life and writing stories,” she said.

“Donna shared, engaged and inspired all, accompanied by her infectious laugh.

“She left in the same manner that she arrived, akin to an inspirational Mary Poppins with her umbrella and bag of motivation.

“All members, new and returning were captivated by her presence and her advice,” Emma said.

“We would like to encourage new members to come along.

“The meetings take place on the first Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Just drop in.

“We want people to be aware it’s really relaxed.

“We have people working on novels, stories and blogs.”

For more information visit www.mumsthewordwriting.co.uk or visit the group's Facebook page.