Kate steps down from Sidmouth’s Meet the Author talks after 10 years

Organiser Kate Norbury and actor Tim Bentinck.

Organiser Kate Norbury and actor Tim Bentinck. - Credit: Archant

An event organiser who has helped to bring some of the country’s biggest authors to Sidmouth is stepping down after more than a decade in charge.

Kate Norbury has been behind booking the likes of Colin Dexter, Prue Leith, Mary Berry, Lord Julian Fellowes and recently Vince Cable and Tim Bentinck as part of the town’s popular Meet the Author series.

The Sidmouth resident began organising author events after moving to Branscombe in 1997. Soon after setting up a book club, she held a fundraiser to boost funds for the village hall and invited author Kathryn Hughes, who had published a biography on Mrs Beeton’s recipes for a talk and lunch.

It kick-started a series of author experiences which Kate brought to Kennaway House when she moved to the town to help raise the profile of the building. Kate said: “What the last few years have shown is that the demographics of Sidmouth, with its high percentage of retired people, is they love coming to Kennaway to hear names they have known most of their lives.”

She retired from the chairmanship in 2014, but stepped back in before announcing this year would be her last year.

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“I will miss it, but I will not miss the stress,” said Kate. “The authors have enjoyed the welcome they have received, that we picked them up off the train and gave them supper in the evening. Some of them said they have enjoyed having an audience of 80 to 100 rather than 500 people, because it feels really personal. They all said they have loved Kennaway House and they absolutely loved Sidmouth.”

Nikki Dawkins, manager of Kennaway House, thanked Kate for her enthusiasm.

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She added: “This has been a very successful fundraiser for the house and has also given a lot of people the wonderful chance to meet, talk to and listen to, some very important and successful people during that time. Kate has really helped put Kennaway House on the map.”

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