The Appledore Book Festival, now in its seventh year, opened yesterday and runs until next Sunday with a host of fascinating writers and speakers. They include Duncan Bannatyne, Peter Snow, Lynda La Plante, Jonathan Dimbleby, Richard Madeley, Judy Finnigan and Michael Palin.
Next weekend one local writer, Tony Chapman, celebrates his 89th birthday with the launch of his first book at the Appledore Festival's Book Fair.
Tony, pictured, of South Molton has published his wartime memoirs, War of the Motor Gun Boats, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the main incident in the book – an epic battle with E-Boats in the North Sea.
The book was completed in 1990 and Tony had no intention of publishing them in his lifetime. But a chance letter to his local newspaper began a chain of events which led to him being persuaded to share his memories.
In the foreword, North Devon MP Sir Nick Harvey, a former Minister of State for the Armed Forces, describes it as a "wonderfully human account of his wartime experiences as a very young man – winning an ARP commendation in 1941, outstandingly brave for a lad of just 16 – one sees what has fashioned and developed him as a character."
Tony recounts that joining the Royal Navy was a chance to "get out into the big wide world itself" but describes his first posting to HMS Royal Arthur – a pre-war Butlin's Holiday Camp whose large motto as you entered was: "Our intent is all for your delight." Little evidence of that followed during the grim reality of war at sea.
The book is published by pen-and-sword.co.uk at £19.99. The Appledore Book Fair is in Appledore Hall from 10am-4.30pm on October 6.