Writer appeals for protection of fragile childhoods amid abuse

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CHILDREN deserve the best the world can give them and should be believed more often, according to author and speaker Gervase Phinn at yesterday’s Yorkshire Post Literary Lunch in Harrogate.

Prof Phinn said that while his books were full of funny stories from his time working in education, it should be remembered not all childhoods were like that. “I was lucky – as were most of us,” he said. “But as we hear these terrible stories in the news about abuse and scandal, we must be aware that not everyone is. Childhood is fragile and should be protected.”

Prof Phinn discussed his latest book, Trouble at the Little Village School. A work of fiction, it still draws on characters he knew and stories he heard over the years.

Also speaking was Owain Arwel Hughes, one of the world’s leading conductors who has worked with leading orchestras and performers.

Destined for a career as a Baptist minister, he realised he had a talent for conducting and decided to change paths. My Life in Music includes anecdotes from his career and also reflects on the sacrifices that come with such a public profession.

“The inspiration came when I remembered where I was on 9/11,” he said. “I was with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra recording in Glasgow.”

In spite of the chaos, the emotion and horror of that day, the musicians carried on. “I realised that’s what we do. No matter what happens, we carry on and perform. That spirit appears throughout the book.”

The third speaker, foreign correspondent Patrick Bishop, is a highly-regarded military historian. Wings marks the centenary of the granting of a Royal Warrant to the Royal Flying Corps, from which the RAF was born in 1918.

“It’s hard to imagine as we queue up at Gatwick for an EasyJet flight that, back then, flying was seen as something very exciting and glamorous,” he said.

The final speaker was Colin Speakman, whose Walk! A Celebration of Striding Out sets out the history and future of walking. “Forget Wainwright,” he told the audience. “The original fell-walker was William Wordsworth. People like him, the romantic poets, painters – they got out there and taught us to see so much.”