The Joy of Stories

Deb Winter with one of her storytelling groups

I have always loved someone reading or telling me a story. I remember my grandmother introducing me to The Wind in The Willows, My Family and other Animals and then Just William when I was a child. Inspired to read for myself, I found books took me on many journeys to all corners of the world and deep into space and the worlds beyond.

When my own son was born, I read to him and I told him stories. I have a favourite photo of him at not yet 12 months old, engrossed in a book I was reading to him. Believe me, he rarely sat still long enough to even eat, so the entranced look on his face is still a delight to me.

When I discovered that there were people who told stories for a living, I was amazed and delighted. Finding that my favourite storyteller whom I met in Bristol quite some years ago had moved to Pembrokeshire was such a treat, and I have relished hearing Deb Winter in all her magnificent guises ever since whenever I can.

And so, when Deb told me that she was involved in a project to reduce isolation by bringing stories to older people in their own homes, I begged her to come to me.

My age and my challenges around mobility meant I qualified. Hurrah… It’s not all doom and gloom. There are definitely some cracking things about getting old!

There was one catch. I had to offer a story of my own and allow myself to be filmed. No problem. I searched out something I hoped she would like and at the appointed hour Deb climbed my steps and treated me to a magical tale of cruelty and redeeming love.

The setting was a bit odd. My gorgeous view over Fishguard Bay behind her, Deb, well wrapped up against the cold, spoke to me through the window of my conservatory, while the builders came and went in their work to create my new bathroom.

I felt special, like I had been selected for a prize. My very own storyteller and a tale that began shockingly with someone being pushed off a cliff. I shan’t say any more. I am hoping many more of you will be able to hear the tale from Deb herself. I certainly do not want to spoil it, but I can say it was a magical experience, as only Deb can create.

We talked a little afterwards about the themes that are universal in stories. Themes of cruelty, love and loneliness, of hope and redemption. and how hearing these tales connects us with one another.

I read my story to Deb. I don’t have her skills as a storyteller but she braved the cold that was beginning to bite and the builders packing up, and gave me her full attention. My story is about the Giantess of Pwl Gwaelod – previously published on Pembrokeshire.Online.

The project that funded Deb to bring me her lovely self and her moving story is one of only three awards made to the whole of Wales… so well done. Deb and Fishguard. Lucky us.

Fishguard Storytelling teamed up with People Speak Up to win this commission from Voluntary Arts Wales to give Pembrokeshire people the lovely experience of Story Care and Share – Fishguard Storytelling/Straeon Gwaun

Fishguard Storytelling/Straeon Gwaun is a small community group dedicated to promoting the art of oral storytelling and providing opportunities for people to get together to share stories. Pre-Covid the group ran popular monthly storytelling-and-music events at Peppers Café with floor spots and guest storytellers from across Wales for the benefit of the community, and storytelling skills/improv workshops. Straeon Gwaun aims to be inclusive and welcoming to all and to help keep the tradition of oral storytelling alive, bringing people together to benefit from sharing stories and meeting others.

People Speak Up, the partner organisation, is a participatory arts project that has delivered a range of creative activities including storytelling, poetry and the spoken word. The aim is to engage with isolated older people, carers, those living with dementia and older people experiencing poor mental health.

 For more information:

If you would like more information on Story Care and Share email or call 07972651920

Deb Winter has always loved words. Her first-class honours degree in English literature led to an MA in English poetry, and in 1985 she began her work as a creative writing tutor – but she didn’t stop there. Deb’s more-than-double life has included 30 years managing projects in the charity sector, a career in teaching public speaking, and, since 2014, becoming a professional storyteller – all of which have allowed her to work with a wide range of people, developing her remarkable skills as she went.

There are a number of articles here in Pembrokeshire.Online  too about Deb Winter and her work.

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says " has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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