In 2014 we moved the timing of our AGM to May to thwart the vagaries of the Scottish winter weather, which had often beset previous AGM meetings. We had a very full year of writing success and exploring new ideas, starting with the news that our ‘Weaving Words Anthology’ had won a runner-up prize in Writing Magazine’s ‘Writer’s Circle Anthology Award’ – thanks go to Kristin for nominating us. During the year we focussed on several themes starting with ‘remembrance’, which was prompted by the anniversary of the start of WWI. This theme continued through 2014 until National Poetry Day on 2nd October when we posted our ‘remember’ poems at various locations around Huntly; to hopefully stir the imagination of its residents when they awoke the following morning.

2014 was also the momentous year when Annie retired from Orb’s Bookshop and some of our members took over the day-to-day running of the bookshop as a community enterprise. During August and September much of our efforts were focussed on fund-raising for the bookshop, with the ‘Pipes in the Park’ crowd-funding event and the ‘Pop-up Bookshop’ at the Huntly Hairst, which made £285. It’s now May 2015 and we have been moderately successful, managed to keep ourselves afloat financially and have a venue for local artists to display their work, as well as a bookshop that is well supported by the local community. Thanks go to all members and other volunteers that have been involved in this.

Members of Huntly Writers continue to have work published in a variety of publications and to take part in readings, competitions and arts events in the North-East. Examples include Anne Forbes’ play ‘The Cock of the North’, which aired to an enthusiastic public in June and was followed by the film of the play in October. We very much enjoyed an evening of crime fiction with Barbara Speake in August; and there were several notable events during the New Words Festival in September. These included an evening with Ian Crockatt, where he launched his new book ‘Crimsoning the Eagle’s Claw’ – a translation of a Norse poetry; and Haworth’s use of an empty propane gas cylinder as a musical instrument at Glenbuchet Hall was an outstanding success, which he repeated for local school children during the Huntly Book Festival in early October. As part of the festival Phyllis and Margaret (the Huntly Makar) provided readings of their Doric poetry and, despite an overall drop in numbers of attendees, the Huntly Writers ‘Flash Fiction’ event on the last evening was very well received. Thanks to Kristin and librarian Sue Mercer for all their hard work in bringing this event together. Linda had a very successful reading of her work at the Salmon Bothy, Portsoy during June; and then organised a ‘Pushing out the Boat’ event for mid-October in Huntly, which was very much enjoyed by all who attended.

During March/April 2015 we were invited to collaborate with a local photographer called Norma Evans, with members writing several evocative and atmospheric poems to go with her pictures of stone circles in the NE.

The membership roll this year has remained fairly steady. Whilst Lucy is still a member, she moved ‘down south’ in October to explore new pastures, but still visits us occasionally. Susan surprised us all one evening in November, when she emailed Leon a poem called ‘Mull in November’ and then announced she had married her partner Graham. Sadly this means she has now moved to Newtonhill, which is too far to attend our meetings, but we wish her much happiness in her new life.

Charlie has left the area to help run a pig farm in Norfolk, but returned for flying visits in August and April to read excerpts from the second novella in his ‘Mermaid Tales’ series.

Sadly, one of our past members, Brian Nesbit, died peacefully in May 2015. We will miss him. Brian’s last book of poetry entitled ‘Now You Know’ is available from Orb’s Bookshop and Haworth is planning a tribute to Brian as part of the poetry night at Better Read Books, Ellon, on Friday 5 June, starting at 7pm. The bookshop will host another tribute event later in the month.

Huntly writers continued to entertain each other with writings inspired by personal life stories and events; family histories; travel experiences and bucket loads of imagination. Examples include, but are not limited to:

Thanks go to all the Huntly Writers, who have made every meeting enjoyable, bringing to life characters and events in each of their own inimitable styles. We are all different and write in unique ways; and it is these differences that help to make our group the success that it is. With a new anthology in the pipeline, 2015 promises to be another exhilarating year for Huntly Writers and long may it continue to do so.