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INTERVIEW


FOOD FESTIVAL SECRETARY By the Dart INTERVIEW


VAL BIRD By Phil Scoble “I


feel at home here, more at home than anywhere I’ve ever lived,” says outgoing


Dartmouth Food Festival secretary Val Bird as we chat in Smith Street Deli. “I love the community here – we’ve made such good friends over the last eight years.” We are meeting to mark her


leaving the Food Festival committee, a sad occasion but one she says is ‘the right thing to do’. “I think it is important that new people come in and bring new ideas,” she says, “it’s the only way the festival will continue to grow and develop – I’ve loved being part of it and now I’m looking forward to taking a step back and enjoying the event as a normal punter! This year I attended the Taste of Puglia event at the Flavel with Jane Baxter, purely by luck as some guests of Jane’s could not make it and we were asked to take their seats – and it was just brilliant! We are hoping to go to lots of things at next year’s event!” Val moved to Dartmouth in 2005 from Wolverhampton with her husband David, after both had followed long and illustrious careers in teaching. They both became headteachers after working their way to the top of their fields. After a combined 65 years in the teaching profession they both wanted to slow down and enjoy life together. “David loved Dartmouth – he had visited it for many years,” said


Val. “So when we both decided we would look to retire he mentioned it was somewhere he’d love to live, so why didn’t we come and have a look. I loved it as soon as I came here, but I wanted to make sure it was somewhere we could live – not just somewhere to visit on holiday.” So the Birds visited every holiday


for a whole year – in each half-term and full holiday they came to see all that Dartmouth had to offer in every season.


I’ve loved being part of it, and now I’m looking forward to taking a step back and enjoying the event as a normal punter!


“We stayed at Brown’s Hotel when


we came down,” said Val, “We had some wonderful visits here and I came to realise that I felt comfortable and at home. Now we love it so much we hardly want to leave! When we go on holiday we love our time away but we are always eager to return. “During all our visits to Browns,


we became firm friends with James and Claire Brown. And when we did move here in 2005, it wasn’t long before James started to encourage us to join the Food Festival!” Both Val and David are food lovers and revelled in the town’s


wide variety of incredibly high quality eateries, whilst also settling into the community. “We both wanted to work in the


community, because we wanted to live here, not act like we were on permanent holiday,” Val said, “We found that the Flavel, where we both volunteer(ed), was a wonderful place and community hub which allowed us to keep up with cultural events. We then got involved with the Food Festival which started to bring us more and more into the community – I’d recommend it to anyone.” The couple tied the knot in 2008 and managed to have the perfect “Dartmouth” event. “We stayed at Browns, went to


the Flavel Church to get married, had pictures in the Royal Avenue Gardens in glorious sunshine, back to Browns for canapés and champagne, before having dinner at Alf Rescos with the James Harris Quartet playing – it was perfect,” beams Val. Over the years both took on more and more responsibility with the Food Festival. David ended up in charge of finance while val at first took on the minutes of meetings, building up her responsibilities until she was in charge of virtually all Food Festival administration. “We’ve had some wonderful


times,” she said. “The fundraisers have been great fun, especially the mid- summer event. the first one sticks in my memory: when we had a river


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