Beccles business attracts high profile stars to town

Eddie Graver (near) and Ollie Sayer from Kulture Shock, Beccles have managed to secure a number of h

Eddie Graver (near) and Ollie Sayer from Kulture Shock, Beccles have managed to secure a number of high profile names such as Ann Widdecombe and Nigel Planer to visit the town to do talks at a social centre for elderly people. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A Beccles business is adding some extra kudos to the town by attracting high-profile figures to give talks and book signings at various community venues.

Actor and comedian Nigel Planer, Coronation Street star Kevin Kennedy and politician Norman Tebbit are just three of the stars who will be visiting this year thanks to the efforts of Kulture Shock in Blyburgate. David Crothers, who is responsible for sales and marketing at the shop, is hoping that the venture is a catalyst for drawing new visitors to Beccles from across the country. On Wednesday, September 24, Mr Planer, who is best known for his role as Neil in The Young Ones, will be speaking about his life and work and answering questions from the audience at Beccles Library.

While Mr Kennedy, who appeared as iconic character Curly Watts for 20 years will be discussing his autobiography The Street to Recovery at The Waveney Centre on Friday, October 24. David said: “Nigel does talks and presentations about writing and acting, but he has never done a talk about himself. Penny Brooke, who is a local artist in Beccles is a personal friend of Nigel’s so we have her to thank for him coming here.

“We look for people to come to Beccles who are appropriate for the town and Ann Widdicombe who was here last week was more than happy to support us, she attracted 180 people over two events. I was so pleased when she asked if she could come back and talk about her new crime novel. It says a lot about the reception she received here.

“We use the library and the Waveney Centre as they are both places designed completely for the community. The Waveney Centre seats 100 people and is self-funding, so they get a percentage of the ticket sales and the bar money - and it’s a wonderful venue.”

David first began working in bookshops as a teenager and when Kulture Shock first opened in Norwich as a book shop specialising in science fiction, horror and crime books he was able to attract authors like Val McDermid for book signings.

When it re-located to Beccles in 2007 greater emphasis was put upon selling gaming gear, cult action figures and other merchandise, but with David’s passion for publishing he quickly attracted names like actor Warwick Davies to appear in the town.

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The shop is now entering a new era with 20-year-old Eddie Graver employed as general manager, while David focuses on the growing success of book signings and events. Eddie, who is a keen target pistol shooter, was chosen to carry the Olympic torch through Lowestoft during the London 2012 games.

Eddie said: “We deal predominately with television, film and gaming so from the entertainment side the books we sell link with our business. We never do local book events though as that is the domain of other shops. We are about bringing people to Beccles who wouldn’t usually come to Beccles. Our aim is getting a countrywide interest in Beccles using the restaurants for a meal, the hotels for somewhere to stay and our community venues to visit.

“Having people like Nigel Planer come here generates real kudos for the town.”

Other question and answer sessions planned include an evening with historian Alison Weir on Wednesday, November 5, at Beccles Library where she will discuss her book The Marriage Game, with music provided by local historical musicians Pearl in the Egg. BBC Radio Four presenter The Rev Richard Coles will be at Beccles Library the following evening where he will read from his book Fathomless Riches and talk about his diverse life. Books will be on sale at Kulture Shock from all guests.

For tickets to any event visit Kulture Shock in Blyburgate or call 01502 712922.