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Reform Magazine | December 5, 2023

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Get the idea

Get the idea

Andrew Webb explains how Holly Mount United Reformed Church created a popular annual forum for ideas in Malvern, Worcestershire

Malvern Festival of Ideas, which in March returns for its seventh year, started small. In 2012, Holly Mount United Reformed Church wanted to celebrate Evolution Sunday – an event that marks the birth of Darwin. My brother-in-law, David Coleman, a URC minister, offered to run Dinosaur Sunday here, which he used to do with the help of Revd Green, an eight-foot inflatable tyrannosaurus rex.

Being a scientist, I wanted there to be some science too, so we made a weekend of it and invited Mark Pallen to talk on the Saturday afternoon. He is the author of The Rough Guide to Evolution and was Professor of Microbial Genomics at Birmingham University at the time. Pallen gave a talk about the present state of knowledge of evolution and then another on the life of Darwin. Darwin came to Malvern to recuperate after one of his trips, and his daughter is buried here after he brought her here for water cure, so Malvern is a good place to be celebrating his life.

Then I thought: Holly Mount does a lot for children, so there must be something for them. We organised an activity day called ‘Fun with Fossils’ in partnership with the local museum.

The whole weekend was really well attended, so we decided to repeat it in 2013 but with a broader scope. Rather than keep it focussed on the Church, we brought in speakers from other faiths and called it Malvern Science and Faith Weekend…

Andrew Webb is a Bayesian statistician and one of the organisers of Malvern Festival of Ideas. He was talking to Stephen Tomkins


This is an extract from an article that was published in the March 2018 edition of  Reform

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