News 78. May 2024

Wilson’s News 78 May 2024

1. A New Trustee
2. The Projects Priorities for 2024
3. Updates
4. More Pieces in the Wilson Jigsaw
5. Key diary dates to note and keep a lookout for in 2024

1. A New Trustee
Following my return to Berwick last year I joined the Board of Trustees in June.

After 40 years of working away, as a lawyer, in various jurisdictions and countries, I have come back to my roots to begin my own next chapter. Part of which, I hope, shall include greater involvement in the Wilsons Tales Project. I have been connected to the tales now for around 8 years taking part in re writes.

I have been warmly welcomed by all fellow Trustees and it has been a pleasure to put faces to email addresses. I am much inspired by their individual and collective knowledge of the tales and the actual history that underpins many of the stories.

I am currently in the process of taking over the reigns from Richard Wilson to edit the “Followers” newsletter. (Not at all daunting as a task given the expertise and experience I am replacing…)

But, as the saying goes, every journey starts with a step and every piece of writing starts with the press of one key. So, as I start in this editorial role, herewith, two requests of you Followers readers.

Firstly, please bear with me as I may blunder and trip over words and formats. I am used to writing for different audiences with different presentational requirements.

Secondly, please provide feedback on my efforts. I am keen to get this right so that you as an audience get as much as possible out of the updates finding them useful and informative.

I remain grateful to Richard for his ongoing support and encouragement in my endeavors.

Denise Bradshaw

2 The Projects Priorities for 2024

As you will recall last year marked the Project’s 10th anniversary and the 74th Newsletter recited an impressive list of the charity’s achievements to date. It included and reflected how the Projects key objective of “aiming to entertain” has evolved the illustrated, the different ways and media through which this has been achieved.

At the December Board meeting, mindful that the first decade was behind us, the Board reviewed where and how the project might proceed into the next decade.

Accordingly, the Board have agreed the following priorities for the next 12 month period.

Engaging and partaking in more live events:

Some specifics of which include the following:
1. Finding a venue for the 2024 Beans and Bacon Dinner: (Food always being a key priority). The restaurant in the Berwick Maltings that has hosted the last two dinners has now, sadly, closed.

Andrew Ayre has been speaking to the proprietors of various purveyors in the locality. Interest has been expressed in hosting the supper and possibly also running events involving eating, drinking, live storytelling, talks, listening and chatting. As a concept they might be considered as “Tastes and Tales” evenings.

Updates in the next newsletter.
2. Playfest 2024: Presenting Wilsons adaptations, both in Berwick and more widely around the borders for example in Duns and Alnwick.

Updates in the next newsletter.

Possible New Developments

1. Moving onto the art of “Live Storytelling”. The Board are looking at the possibility of making this form of tale sharing an embedded feature of the project. With that in mind we are looking into the possibility of creating a post and sponsoring a “Raconteur in Residence”. We are currently considering what such a post holder might do, where and when and how they would fit in to the project. Obviously funding options need to be explored. Updates on this item will be included in future newsletters.

2. On “Live Storytelling” as it has featured in the project so far: Chris Adriaanse, whose storytelling at the 2023 Beans and Bacon Dinner was so warmly received, is looking at more of the tales to see what he might like to work with next.

Better sharing of News, Updates and Events of interest

1. Followers News: We aim to send out the Followers News with greater frequency, which, depending upon readers feedback to the below questions, may include a weekly supplement in which individual tales are re told in a serialised form.

For some time the project has been considering how best to get the re-writes of tales to wider audiences. The printed, illustrated collections are arguably the most attractive option, particularly to bibliophiles and those wedded to the printed word, but they only attract a small paying customer base. This means, certainly until such time as any fashion or trend to buy the books in number takes off, their ongoing production cannot be sustained as a means of getting new tales into the public sphere.

With that in mind I am asking you to give feedback on your appetites for the following.

Option 1: Would there be an interest, among Followers, for the tales to be serialised and emailed out, as supplements to the Followers News?

Option 2: In addition to considering the possibility of producing written serialisations, the Board is examining how easily tales might be converted into podcasts. Would followers prefer that as a medium through which to enjoy the tales?

Option 3: Would followers like to have both options 1 and 2 available and accessible?

Please e mail and let us have your thoughts to

Project Governance

1. The Board has undertaken to complete a review of all matters relating to the Governance of the Project. This shall include looking at policy documents, relevant guidance and forms to ensure their ongoing compliance with the the laws and regulations that govern the running of charities. It should also ensure that there are in place effective policies and processes that will enable the project to engage more readily in activities where there is a face to face interaction with the public. This is of particular import when dealing with more vulnerable members of the public.

It is anticipated that the new editions of the documents will be circulated to all Board members in the first quarter of this year, for discussions and revision to enable their earliest adoption.
1. Wilson Memorial Restoration

As ever we are grateful to Stephen Platten’s resilience, stamina and dogged determination in continuing to work on this.

As of December 2023 he was able to report to the Board as follows:

He continues to pursue possible funding sources for the renovation of JMW’s tomb. He shall be approaching The Freemen of Berwick who have recently confirmed funding for a statue of the town’s local legend, “Jimmy Strength”. This funding might be secured on the basis that it too, will be for the benefit of the people of Berwick.

2. The Life and Times of JMW

On the 17th January, Mike Fraser, author of An Exile Returns to Berwick, the first biography of John Mackay Wilson, presented a talk, organised by the Berwick History Group, on the life of Wilson. Unfortunately, seasonal bad weather affecting transport and transport routes meant that turnout was low. Feedback from those able to attend was very favourable. A number of attendees admitted to knowing little about Wilson. Mike has been kind enough to say he would happily give the talk again. It could be something that would fit well into a “Tales and Tasting” event, which if it is convened in the summer should enable more people to attend.

Updates to follow.

4. More pieces of the Wilson Jigsaw
1. Definitiv eine deutsche Ausgabe
Founder and Board member of the Project, Andrew Ayre is, as I mentioned in my introduction very knowledgeable about Wilson, the Tales and matters connected thereto including matters dealing with the publications of the tales and their influence on culture over the decades.
Previously his researches led to him finding an edition of the tales, published in Germany but written in English. In January tracked down an edition in German. It is currently held at Chicago library.
Expertly applying his basic German he is confident that the first tale is The Red Hall or Berwick 1296.
He found the library search site from the National Trust.

The following link will take you to the edition which has been helpfully uploaded inti a digital format.

2. Fellow board member, writer and sleuth of historical mysteries, Jan Anderson has been digging further into what happened to JMWs widow following his early death.

An illustrated account of her finding will be in the next Followers News

5. Key diary dates to note and keep a lookout for in 2024

1. 6th Beans & Bacon Dinner. Wednesday 2nd October 2024.(Venue to be confirmed.)

2. February 18th 2024 Alnwick’s Northumberland Hall hosts Wilsons Tales as a local producer of local stories, as we participate in a local makers marketplace.

Alongside other local independent authors, and among craft producers, we have a small stall to sell our Revival Editions, and talk to the public, and potential writers, dramatists, and competition entrants about the Tales, their history, and about how we are reintroducing The Tales in print, as drama, and with new digital media as audio.

3. Annual General Meeting. To be held on the 10th April 2024 (Time and location to be confirmed). If any followers would like to attend please let us know by CoP on Monday the 1st April 2024 so that we can arrange an appropriate venue.

4. Watch out for the announcement of the launch and closing date of the 3rd 100 Word Story Competition. (But get idea collecting and drafting now, late summer will soon be upon us).


We’re delighted to help the cause of local and independent bookshops. Even more so when they stock Wilson’s Tales.
Now available from these high street locations;

Slightly Foxed, Bridge Street, Berwick. :
Berwick Heritage Centre, Walkergate, Berwick : (
Greives, Church St , Berwick :
Main Street Trading, Main Street, St Boswells :
The Reading Room, The Square, Melrose :
The Village Shop, Cornhill-0n Tweed. :

and if you missed last year and Volume 7, you may purchase them both together at a reduced price, but only on our website.
goto to purchase, or any of the booksellers above

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Our mailing address is:
Wilsons Tales of the Borders
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Berwick Upon Tweed., Northumberland TD15 2HP
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