My trip to the conference (Well at the World’s End) and the Beyond the Boarders storytelling festival inspired the following short piece which I dedicate to everyone present this year.


[Picture from]

Memories beside the sea – a micro story

The trees watched the people as they approached; but the people weren’t aware that the trees were watching. For time unmeasured the trees of the grove danced with the wind beside the sea. One day some people came. The trees didn’t understand why. The figures looked like small saplings to the trees. Saplings that pounded their roots on the ground but not in the earth; that drank water but not with their roots; that sang but not with the liquefied earth that the trees felt effortlessly flow through their trunks and branches. These saplings pounded the earth and drank water until they couldn’t walk, and sang until they couldn’t talk. And when the sun had set and risen three times the saplings, being uprooted, left for another place. The trees saw what the people did not know. The trees remembered that one day people came and may return to share their grove beside the sea. Until then the trees of the grove danced with the wind beside the sea.


Amidst the ancient stone walls of St Donat’s Castle, with the sea stretching out beyond the large glass windows, a gathering of minds unfolded. We pulled our chairs close, and the air buzzed with anticipation. The topic? Stories—those elusive threads that weave through our lives, connecting us to meaning, metaphor, and each other. Organized by Steven Killick (Cardiff) and Alette Willis (Edinburgh), this event promised to unravel the future of storytelling research.

1. Reinventing Presentations

The day began with a hiccup—the dreaded PowerPoint glitch. But necessity breeds innovation. On the spot, I reinvented my presentation, shedding the digital crutch. Perhaps it was serendipity; my impromptu delivery felt more authentic, more alive. Sometimes, the unplanned path leads to richer pastures.

2. The Power of Connection

Alette Willis captured the essence of the morning session in a single word: connect. Storytelling, she asserted, enables connections. In a world fractured by disconnection, stories bridge the gaps. They link us to meaning, to metaphor, and most importantly, to one another. As practitioners and researchers, we grappled with a fundamental question: How do we convince the skeptics—the nonbelievers—that stories matter? Why should they fund research into this intangible magic?

3. Dialogues and Diverse Voices

The discussions flowed like a river of narratives at A Well at the World’s End. Here’s a glimpse:

  • Prue Thimbleby: Stories in care settings—nursing homes, breast reconstruction appointments. How can narratives amplify voices?
  • Elizabeth Vooght: Playfulness therapy and Kamberelis’s work—a tantalizing connection to my own research.
  • Dafydd Davies-Hughes: Storytelling with young probationers in Welsh communities—unlocking potential.
  • Fiona Collins: Her storytelling revival questionnaire—revealing the heartbeat of storytelling.
  • Laura Simms: Stories as repair tools—transforming ex-child soldiers, rebuilding communities.
  • Janet Dowling: Bereavement narratives and therapeutic practice—a delicate dance.
  • Suzie Doncaster: Confidence in communication—how stories empower.
  • Nicola Grove: Using storytelling to support those with learning difficulties—bridging gaps.
  • Emily: Women’s stories of their bodies—across art forms, a symphony of voices.
  • Jess Wilson: Storytelling in psychiatric nursing—compassion and connection.
  • Trish Chilton: Social construction and meaning-making—researching stories creatively.
  • Rosa Durand: Federal police in Mexico—training officers to tell stories for peace.
  • Karen Lewis: The George Ewart Evans Centre For Storytelling—a hub of exploration.

4. Steve Killick’s Call to Action

As the morning sun bathed the castle, Steve Killick stepped forward. His words resonated: “Stories are a powerful way of working with people.” But it’s not enough to feel it; we must prove it. Research—the missing stitch in our tapestry—must fill in the gaps. Let’s weave stories into evidence, and evidence into understanding.

Conclusion to A Well at the World’s End Conference

In the castle’s shadow, we left with hearts full of stories. The conference had done its magic—connecting us, inspiring us. As we venture forth, let’s remember that stories are more than words; they are lifelines. So, fellow storytellers, let’s spin our tales, stitch by stitch, until the whole world is wrapped in their warmth.

And there you have it—a retelling of our conference, a patchwork of voices. May our narratives continue to intertwine, creating bridges across time and space.

Emma Parfitt

Proofreader for business and academic documents, translations, and English writing.


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