Bridport Literary Festival director Tanya Bruce-Lockhart has been given a surprise award by Dorset High Sheriff George Streatfeild.

Last week, as she was thanking the first author, Sir Barney White-Spunner, at the end of an illustrated talk about his book, Berlin, Mr Streatfeild walked on to the Electric Palace stage in full formal regalia.

He presented her with the High Sheriff Award in recognition of the determination and the immense work undertaken by her to put on a ‘live’ programme of Covid safe events at this year’s festival.

Mr Streatfeild said: ‘In a year when joys are in short supply, being able, as High Sheriff, to thank people for the amazing work they do is a huge privilege and joy.

‘I have known Tanya ever since she moved down to West Dorset 20 years ago. She would come to Denhay Farm, at Broadoak, march into the office, sit herself down and regale us with stories of her life and travels. She is always wonderful company.’

Tanya said the award came as a complete surprise.

‘I thought at first it was a This Is Your Life moment and wondered what else would unravel,’ she said.

‘I was stunned, thrilled and delighted to be awarded the High Sheriff’s Award and the greatly appreciated the citation that George read to the audience.’

Wednesday’s events also saw best-selling nature writer Raynor Winn talking about her new book, Wild Silence.  The day ended with a lively and entertaining conversation between author Robert McCrum and local writer Jason Webster about Robert’s new book, Shakespearean, and  how the poet and playwright’s work is every bit as current today.

Said Mrs Bruce-Lockhart: ‘Writers who had to be stood down included Kim Darroch, Alastair Campbell, Charles Spencer, Richard Osman, Jonathan Coe and James Rebanks. They were all as disappointed as we were but each has promised to come to Bridport once the country is through these dark and anxious days of the virus – roll on spring.’

That’s it from me.

Stay safe.


Picture by Adrien Munden