I was truly saddened and shocked to hear that Lindsey Bailey had passed away. She was an incredible writer and a lovely person who will be missed by many. This one’s for you, Linds…
I first met the wonderfully talented creative dynamo known to the world as Lindsey Bailey when I was a member of the Polesworth branch of Writing West Midlands’ Spark Young Writers Group. I was an ambitious bookworm of a teenager who along with a like-minded cluster of kids would rock up to the monthly class to let our imaginations run free. It was the start of a new term and we all arrived at Polesworth Abbey (the headquarters of our geeky gang) to find the group had two new tutors. The freshly appointed Lead Writer was author and journalist Alex Townley and the new Assistant Writer was of course, Lindsey Bailey, a wordsmith and teacher with an endless supply of enthusiasm and a smile bright enough to outshine every star in the Cosmos.
From their first session onwards Alex and Lindsey put their own stamp on our group and changed it for the better. The Abbey’s refectory room where our writing took place transformed from a hub of silent swotting to a vibrant laboratory of storytelling.
This was due in no small part to Lindsey who would kickstart every Polesworth session by doling out at least two packets of biscuits to raise our energy-levels to a sugary crescendo before setting us one of her ever inventive warm-up activities.
It was anyone’s guess what intriguing new creative challenge Lindsey would give us each month, sometimes she’d have us compose lengthy poems on the beauty of the changing seasons or task us to write detailed journalistic reviews of what we had eaten for breakfast. She’d also encourage us to embrace the silliest aspects of our imaginations by getting us to pick three entirely random words from a bag and use whatever we selected as the title for our story. Such delightfully daft tales as Purple Elephant Trampoline were written as a result. Other times she would lead us outside into the Abbey grounds to take inspiration from our green and pleasant surroundings.
‘Let’s all write a story from the perspective of that bee,’ Lindsey would say, pointing towards the stripy rotund insect as it pollinated a nearby hydrangea. And off we’d go to spend the next fifteen minutes penning The Unauthorized Biography of Bobby the Bumble Bee.
Lindsey would spend the remainder of the sessions darting up and down the room at the speed of light, offering advice or constructive feedback as we all scribbled in our notebooks. She radiated kindness and her love of the written word was truly infectious. Lindsey was as hungry to teach us as we were to learn and I know that every young person in our class left it with a deeper appreciation for both the art and craft of writing.
By the time Lindsey moved from our Polesworth Spark group to become the Lead Writer over in Burton and later Walsall, I’d already started publishing my own work via this blog. We stayed in touch on Twitter and she would always be the first to give me a retweet and spread the word whenever a piece of my writing went online. We’d always keep an eye on each other’s literary progress and every time we met up at various Writing West Midlands events we always talked shop. I’d congratulate her on the work she was doing with her brilliantly innovative StoryChefs workshops or the publication of her children’s book The Cape of Courage while she’d advise me on my latest projects
It was also at those events where Lindsey and I would share a good few biscuits and laughs before the conversation inevitably drifted onto our dogs. I, like Lindsey, cherish my canine companions (Tolkien the Goldendoodle and Merida the Labradoodle) and it was always nice to hear about the latest adventures of the superstar schnauzer himself, “Bostin Austin”.
Lindsey was the first person I contacted when the good folk at Writing West Midlands appointed me the new Assistant Writer at Polesworth. She was pleased that I would be taking over her former role, but I knew I had big shoes to fill.
Not only did I get the chance to follow in Lindsey’s footsteps at my new gig but I also had the joy of being her Assistant when she came back to Polesworth Abbey to lead a couple of classes. It was like she’d never left, both the sessions I worked with her ran on biscuits and magic, just like old times. The only difference being I was now on the other side of the writing table, listening to the stories instead of reading them out.
After the first of our co-run sessions, Lindsey reeled off an aptly poetic turn of phrase about The Student becoming The Teacher, and smiled proudly. That particular snapshot in time has taken on a new level of poignancy since her passing and has become a memory I shall treasure.
I feel privileged to have called Lindsey both my teacher and my friend. This world of ours seems like a much darker place without Lindsey in it, but as long as the many young people who she inspired keep writing I know her light will shine on.
With love and deepest condolences to Lindsey’s family & friends,