Sidmouth celebrations to honour Delderfield

The celebrations to mark the centenary of Sidmouth’s most famous son, the novelist and dramatist RF Delderfield, were a huge success according to his biographer and organiser of the event.

More than 150 fans, family and friends of Delderfield, who died in 1972, gathered at Kennaway House last weekend to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday.

These included Veronica Persse, RF Delderfield’s daughter, and Sally Sedgman, who had known the family well.

Also present at the event was Sandria Stewart, who got her big break as an actress in a Delderfield play.

Those who sent messages to the centenary included representatives of Delderfield’s publishers, his agent, and the vice-president of the special collections department at Boston University, which holds most of Delderfield’s manuscripts and notebooks.

Famous actors Nigel Havers and Patsy Kensit also sent their support for the event, and Marion Lindsey-Noble, who wrote a biography of the man known for such titles as A Horseman Riding By and Worm’s Eye View, said it had been a fantastic day.

“After two years of preparations, it all came together – and even the sun was shining!” she said. “I was amazed at how much pulling power the name Delderfield still had 40 years after his death.”

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The event included a performance by the Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society of his one-act play Sailors Beware! followed by a tour of Sidmouth.

There was a visit to the Delderfield exhibition at Sidmouth Museum and a ride on Tom Griffiths’s “Toastrack” vehicle up to the Delderfield residences on Peak Hill and in Manor Road.

Marion said: “I have always loved RF Delderfield, the man and his work, and it was such a joy to see the people of East Devon, the Delderfield family and friends reuniting happily and in great numbers to celebrate his 100th birthday – and most of all that everybody loved to remember him.”