Books in the Belfry

Rev Richard Coles – in conversation with Ian Ridley

Books in the Belfry is back at St Leonard’s Church with an A-lister of a guest in the Rev Richard Coles.

Rev Coles, the presenter of Saturday Live on BBC Radio 4 and a former Strictly Come Dancing contestant, will be discussing his memoir The Madness of Grief and his new career as a writer of crime thrillers on Saturday April 2nd at 6pm in St Leonard’s with Flamstead resident and writer, Ian Ridley.

“We are delighted to be bringing such a major name to the village to mark the return of Books in the Belfry,” said Ian, whose late wife Vikki Orvice was co-founder of the Flamstead Book Festival with Mark and Mary Jenkin, who will be organising the event.

Added Ian: “As we try and celebrate emerging from the pandemic and our beautiful church being open again following a year of renovations, we wanted to put on a special occasion ahead of taking stock of where we go with the festival without the amazing creative drive that Vikki brought to it.”

Rev Coles is the author of three books of memoir, Fathomless Riches, Bringing in the Sheaves and the Sunday Times bestseller The Madness of Grief. The latter is a vivid and poignant account of the death and its aftermath of Richard’s husband, the Rev David Coles.

All of the books will be available to purchase on the night, courtesy of Harpenden Books, and Richard will stay for a signing session.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Ian. “Richard interviewed me on the BBC’s Saturday Live show shortly after my book The Breath of Sadness about Vikki came out and it will fascinating to interview him now about his work.

“We’ll talk about grief of course but much more than that, including his life as a pop star when he was with the Communards before he moved into the church and became a parish priest. Then there is Strictly Come Dancing… He is due to retire from the clergy in April and will be appearing more in the media as well as writing crime novels with his first one Murder Before Evensong out in June so there’s lots to talk about.

“He is a very witty and clever communicator with a fund of anecdotes so it promises to be a really uplifting and enjoyable evening.”

Tickets are priced at £12 to include a glass of wine or a soft drink and doors will open at 5.30pm ahead of the 6pm start. Details of how and when to buy them will be announced soon.

The event is being organised, as always, by the Friends of St Leonard’s (FoSL), the non-religious charity responsible for raising funds to maintain the church building. On this occasion the net proceeds will go into general parish funds – as the church has had very little income while it was closed during the roof repairs and the pandemic, but still had expenses for heating, lighting, insurance and so on.