Now We Are Five!

A Weston-super-Mare based creative writing group this month celebrates five years of writing activities, events and global engagement. With a string of successes behind it, such as writing and performing in Bristol Old Vic’s 2020 Christmas film ‘Angels in Bristol’, submitting their film about medical pioneer Elizabeth Blackwell to New York Short Film Festival, and having poems projected onto walls in Weston’s Grove Park in the Glow Festival of Light 2022 and 2024, the group has gone from strength to strength and and its virtual meetings now include members from the USA, Malaysia and Australia.

Led by Weston writer Sue Hill and poet Bob Walton, Chapter One Creative Writing Group began life with fortnightly meetings at Worle Hub in 2019, supported by North Somerset arts organisation Theatre Orchard (now known as Super Culture). Within a few months, the group was thriving and even included a writing workshop led by internationally renowned novelist, Patrick Gale.

Patrick Gale at The Big Worle with Chapter 1 – Photo Credit Marie-Dominique Demers-King

“Most members of the group were people who’d wanted to try their hand at writing for a long time but never had the opportunity or confidence. But in no time at all they were writing wonderful stories and poems,” said Sue Hill, who lives in Worlebury and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the Open University. “Bob and I were so impressed that we started what we called a Speakeasy Poetry Night at Worle Hub, offering the challenge to read their poems in public and the opportunity to hear other poets. Of course, they rose to it and have been rising to every challenge ever since.”

When Covid struck, Sue and Bob thought that lockdown might bring the group to an end. “But no, many of them quickly learnt how to use Zoom and we’ve been able to continue meeting for another four years,” said Bob Walton, a former Head of English at Worle Community School before he went on to gain a PhD in Creative Writing and teach the subject at Cardiff University. “It was a complete surprise but going online opened Weston to the world. We now have a regular member from Connecticut who used to live in Weston, one from Kuala Lumpur and one from New South Wales in Australia who gets up in the middle of the night to join our sessions! It’s the same with Speakeasy Poetry Nights when Chapter One poets are joined by audiences and poets from across the UK and around the world.”  

Sue Hill and Bob Walton of The Write Box

Over the past five years, the writing by members of Chapter One has featured in a range of events in Weston. Their re-telling of local myths were displayed in the Old Town Quarry for the Friendly Giant Puppet Show, ‘Gnomus’. Their poems appeared in shelters along Weston’s seafront prom and on walls approaching Anchor Head. They performed a choral poem with percussion, ‘The Elementalists’, on the top deck of See Monster at sunset, and last autumn an anthology of their work, ‘Words on the Wire’, was launched in a wonderful event at Weston Literary Festival. They even announced the start of the Literary Festival as Town Crier Poets parading around the town and reading poems to shoppers from the Super Wonder Shrine in High Street on National Poetry Day.

Performing as ‘The Elemenatalists’ at SEE MONSTER

“It’s always a joy facilitating our sessions with Chapter One,” added Sue Hill. “They are so receptive to all our ideas and suggestions, so supportive of each other, and so talented. New members are always welcome, or people can drop-in to give it a try. It’s free, friendly and now we are 5 years old!”

Chapter One Creative Writing Group meets online on Zoom fortnightly on Tuesdays from 3 to 5pm. For find out more, go to