The 70th Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival at the Barn Theatre was a stunning success.

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Coral Walton, chairman of YDF Committee, at the Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival at the Barn TheatreCoral Walton, chairman of YDF Committee, at the Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival at the Barn Theatre

The celebration of youth drama was opened by Welwyn Hatfield mayor Howard Morgan and the week-long festival brought companies from Barnet, Harlington, St Albans, Letchworth, Watford and Stevenage to Welwyn Garden City.

But it was a local group from Monk’s Walk School that walked away with the Senior First prize.

The WGC school won the Youth Committee Cup, which was first presented in 1945 to WGC Girl Guides at the Woodhall Community Centre.

Local resident Lavinia Warrington, who entered the festival in both 1944 and 1945, presented the awards to the winners on the final night at the Barn Theatre, in Handside Lane, where the festival has been held since 1947.

Karen Rhodes, who wrote play You Are My Sunshine, James Bailey, students from Richard Hale School, Hertford, and Pump House director Lee FarmanKaren Rhodes, who wrote play You Are My Sunshine, James Bailey, students from Richard Hale School, Hertford, and Pump House director Lee Farman

Lavinia said she actually couldn’t remember much about her performancein 1945, but a report in the Welwyn Hatfield Times at the time carried the adjudicator’s comments of her play The Thrice Promised Bride.

Apart from one or two small criticisms, she had nothing but praise for the looks, staging, elocution and choice of play.

This year’s adjudicator, Louise Manders, praised the enthusiastic 2014 competitors for an excellent week of interesting and thought-provoking drama.

She was particularly impressed by the Handside Lane venue, commenting on how fortunate residents are to have this superb theatre in the town.

The cakeThe cake

“I don’t often adjudicate festivals of purely young competitors. To see so many companies here is impressive,” she said.

JCoSS, the Jewish Community Secondary School from Barnet, took the first prize in the junior section with a beautifully portrayed piece about the deaf musician Evelyn Glennie.

Invited guests to the 70th festival celebrations included Michael Annand, who has been connected with the festival since the 1950s, past chairmen Louis Davis and Tony Powell, secretaries Carolyn Annand and Ann Neuff, and stage manager Pat Dunham, who gave much of her time to the festival in the 1960s.

Present committee members Derek Palmer, Brenda Onyon and James Rowles worked tirelessly behind the scene as they have done for many years, to ensure the smooth running of the operation.

Lavinia Warrington with winner from Monk'’s Walk James BaileyLavinia Warrington with winner from Monk'’s Walk James Bailey

Coral Walton, chairman of the present YDF committee, said it had been a most successful week.

Her only regret was that more people hadn’t been able to see some of the youngsters’ work, which was particularly creative and so worth watching.

Youth Drama Festival committee chairman Coral Walton, Welwyn Hatfield mayor Howard Morgan and his wife, Virginia MorganYouth Drama Festival committee chairman Coral Walton, Welwyn Hatfield mayor Howard Morgan and his wife, Virginia Morgan

WINNERS

* Senior First –Youth Committee Cup: Monk’s Walk School, WGC, with ‘wwwscott’

* Senior Second – Nero Cup: St Christopher Players, Letchworth, with ‘Memorial’ by Emma Roskilly

* Senior Third – Annand Cup: Richard Hale School with ‘Decade’

* Junior First – Elizabeth Cory-Wright Cup: JCoSS Barnet ‘Playing from the Heart’ by Charles Way

* Junior Second – Hinton Cup: Pump House CYT, Watford, with ‘You Are My Sunshine’ by Karen Rhodes

* Junior Third – Louis Davis Cup: Barnwell School with ‘Just a Body’

* Technical Award – Ball England Cup: Pump House CYT, Watford, with ‘You Are My Sunshine’

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