The People’s Friend Week At Warner!

Holding The People's Friend magazine at a sunlit frosty countryside at Alvaston Hall

Now that we’re settled back in the office after another successful The People’s Friend Warner holiday, Kirsty shares how her first time at Warner went!

Arriving At Warner

If you read Editor Angela’s diary last week, you’ll know that the pair of us spent last week in lovely Cheshire, enjoying a fabulous festive break at Alvaston Hall with you, our readers!

Alongside our wonderful events coordinators and our colleagues from “My Weekly” we arrived on Monday lunchtime and were immediately catapulted into a jam-packed week.

This was my first time on a Warner holiday, and also – as I realised on a very chilly drive south – the first time I’d left Scotland since 2019! Expectations were certainly high!

I was soon swept up in the festive madness!

The front of Alvaston Hall on a wintery frosty day

Photograph by Kirsty Souter.

We were welcomed into the holiday with mulled wine and mince-pies, and a cheering concert of seasonal songs.

The entertainment team at Warner started with a bang, and didn’t let up for the rest of the week. We experienced nightly shows with everything from performances based on popular musicals, to a tribute to the rock band Queen – and who can forget the institution that is a Warner holiday pantomime? (A particular recommendation from Hope from “My Weekly”.)

Entertainment at Warner, stage singing Les Miserables

Photograph by Kirsty Souter.

Activities At Warner

Our own activities got underway on Tuesday with our Christmas card making craft workshop. This was an opportunity to flex our artistic muscles and also a great chance for us to get chatting to our readers. The day flew by with Angela and Stuart’s Q&A.

I also tuned up my vocal chords and revisited my open mic days for our short story reading! We had a short story reading every day, and it was always a lovely way to wind-down before dinner. Fiction in the “Friend” is so beloved, and it was nice to share some favourite “Friend” stories with our guests.

Kirsty reading a story at the Warner Alvaston Hall holiday next to a banner of My Weekly and The People's Friend

Photograph by Angela Gilchrist.

Wednesday was one of our most full-on days! Stuart gave a heart-rending talk about “My Weekly” and their partnership with Mary’s Meals, who have been feeding hungry children across the globe. It was an emotional story of human resilience in adverse conditions, as well as a reminder of just how generous our readers are.

Hope and I had our own tangle with temperamental technology that afternoon when we attempted to reach author of “Riverside” and “Friend” favourite Glenda Young via a video link for her much-anticipated talk.

Glenda Young at Warner on screen via video link

Photograph by Angela Gilchrist.

Glenda was a star! Not only was she endlessly patient with our technical difficulties, once we got going she let us see a little behind her creative process and chatted to us about all things soap opera, “Riverside”, writing, and her brand-new festive read “A Mother’s Christmas Wish”.

On Thursday we met travel writer Neil McAllister, who came bundled up ready for an Antarctic expedition. Just as well, as the temperature was a frosty –11 degrees Celsius!

Neil was another fantastic speaker, and with his trademark humour and incredible photographs (not to mention the seasonal chill in the air!), we set off to explore the Falkland Islands and the Antarctic circle with him and his wife Hazel.

After that, Angela took us back in time and through the archives to tell us all about the history of “The People’s Friend”.

Some true gems from the pages of the “Friend” were uncovered, and we were all much amused by the anecdotes of yesteryear – particularly one warning about how an excess of potatoes making you dull. (Something we all duly ignored when faced with a particularly delicious potato salad at dinner time!)

Saying Goodbye

We were all quite exhausted by the time Friday rolled around, but our last activity was our farewell teas and coffees, which was a lovely opportunity to mingle with some familiar friendly faces and say our goodbyes.

It was one last opportunity for a good chat, and to get to know everyone a little better. It was a fitting end to a very sociable week.

We’ll be counting down the days ‘til the next one!

Kirsty Souter