Salfords Shelagh Delaney day is now five years old.
In those years, it’s grown from a screening of her most famous work at Eccles town hall into a weekend of events staged at the Salford Arts Theatre in the city of her birth.
Beginning on Saturday the 23rd November with an evening of new writing, headed up by Salford Arts theatre writer in residence, Libby Hall, as well as Phil Pearson (Blackpool, What a sh!t place to die) and others.
Sunday at 5pm sees the screening of the film “Charlie Bubbles”. The screenplay, written by Delaney, references both her and Albert Finney’s experiences of achieving success and their working-class origins in Salford.
The final event on the evening of Monday the 25th sees a series of readings from Delaney’s book of short tales, “Sweetly sings the donkey” which starts at 6pm, tickets for all the weekends’ events can be booked in advance by clicking here
The lady behind the founding of the commemoration was local Salfordian Louise Woodward-Styles. The idea came about when she found out that the city didn’t celebrate its famous daughter in the way other cities did their famed writers.
“I was angry at what I saw as an injustice,” she told me.
“There had to be something done to recognise her achievement as not just the writer of A Taste of Honey, but all the other screenplays and radio plays she had written.
“It was thanks to Charlotte [Delaney, Shelagh’s Daughter] that we managed to hit the ground running in our first year. Her support was crucial in allowing her mother, who was a very private person, to be celebrated.
“Ian Stewart who was Salford Mayor at the time was really helpful, and thought it only right we empowered new talent by honouring her legacy as a Salfordian.”
Moving on to this year’s event, and Louise is really excited that the weekend of events is honouring not just Shelagh, but another Salfordian who passed this year in Albert Finney.
“Charlie Bubbles is more than a Delaney screenplay, its two friends working together. It was the shared experience between Albert and Shelagh of growing up in Salford and the response they got from those who still lived here that shaped the film.” she said
Looking beyond the 2019 events Louise went on to say; “We want to move away from it just being about Shelagh, and look at her legacy as a whole, and hopefully inspire more writers like (Arts theatre writer in residence) Libby Hall to greater things.”
At the head of everything are Roni Ellis and Scott T. Berry of the Arts theatre. They see the weekend as one of the highlights of the venue’s calendar.
Roni Ellis takes up the story.
“It’s great to be the hub of the community that celebrates her work. Her writing was an inspiration to so many local people.
“By showcasing new writing, we hope that we can inspire the next generation of Shelagh’s to continue her legacy not just in Salford, but beyond.”
Gordon Soames was the man tasked with putting together the 2015 event at the Salford Arts Theatre, which has now become the hub for the celebration.
Gordon describes how the 2015 event came about;
“When Charlotte met the composer Stuart Stevens, they got to chatting about Shelagh and it was actually her idea that the short story “All about and to a female artist” was used. It was written using begging letters that she received after she became famous.”
The musical work will be performed for the first time since then in March of 2020 at the Birmingham Conservatoire as part of a memorial for Stuart who sadly passed away six months after the first performance.”
She was happy that her mother was to be celebrated in a way that made the most of the legacy she left behind, and as custodian of that, Charlotte wanted to be certain that nothing would harm that.” he said.