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Festival event explores good and evil
THE sister of a woman murdered by serial killer Fred West will be among speakers discussing good and evil at a second “faith fest”.
Marian Partington will speak at The Bloxham Festival of Faith and Literature, which runs for three days from next Friday.
The festival has expanded since a successful October 2011 pilot at St Mary’s Church and will this year be held at Bloxham School.
Its theme is Devices and Desires and seeks to explore good and evil in the media, arts and business.
Oxford-born Mrs Partington will discuss the limits of forgiveness with Michael Lloyd, the chaplain of The Queen’s College, Oxford.
Her sister was snatched from a bus stop aged 21 in 1973 and her remains were found at the Gloucester home of Fred and Rosemary West in 1994.
Mrs Partington wrote to Rose West – convicted of 10 murders – to say she did not feel hostile towards her and “genuinely” wished her well.
This year’s programme will also feature former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Blair in a discussion on crime as entertainment. He will be joined on the Saturday by crime writer James Runcie and Jeany Spark who plays Linda Wallander in TV thriller Wallander.
Later that day, former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion will discuss whether virtuous characters in literature are “boring”.
Novelists Patrick Gale, Alex Preston and Jasper Fforde, and five bishops will also give talks during the festival.
The Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Rev Alan Wilson, will discuss good and evil in the media with Guardian journalist Andrew Brown on the Saturday.
That evening, there will be a performance by the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance and the North Cotswold Chamber Choir.
The festival has been run with support from the Diocese of Oxford, faith festival Greenbelt and the Church Times.
Co-director Sarah Meyrick said: “The positive response to the first festival in St Mary’s in 2011 showed that there was a real appetite for a festival bringing together faith and the arts.”
She added: “We are delighted that Marian Partington is going to be speaking.
“She is an extraordinary person with an extraordinary story. It’s hard for any of us to imagine what she went through, losing her sister in such terrible circumstances.
“But her determination to find forgiveness is inspirational.”
The festival was the idea of Banbury MP and Church of England commissioner Sir Tony Baldry.
He said: “It is fantastic to see the return of the Bloxham Festival of Faith and Literature.
“This is a literary festival which has a theological slant and it therefore stands out from all other literary festivals.”