A GROUNDBREAKING festival which started with a grant of just £100 is making its final preparations – and a plea for everyone to get involved.
Bridport Mind Fest starts today with dozens of workshops, talks and interactive activities, culminating in World Mental Health Day on Tuesday.

An incredible £6,000 was raised through a crowdfunding campaign, with local businesses also getting on board. Simon Williams, chairman of the organising committee, said they were given £100 – part of a £500 grant from Bridport Town Council, £400 of which was to be spent on an art exhibit which will form part of the festival – to investigate the idea of a mind festival in autumn last year.

On the eve of the festival, Mr Williams said he was ‘amazed’ at how much support organisers have been given.

He added: “We are really grateful for all the funding, particularly from the public. Some donations have been stunning.”

One of the highlights of the event is a performance by Angie Le Mar, an award-winning playwright and comedienne, who is donating her services to the festival free of charge. Her performance at the Town Hall on Tuesday from 7pm will wrap up a six-day extravaganza of events.

Mr Williams said there is truly something for all ages. Bridport Primary School children will be wearing yellow on Tuesday to raise awareness of mental health, and the choirs from all Minerva Schools will be performing at the Arts Centre on Tuesday at 11.30am. And Bridport Primary School will also be hosting a drop-in session from 1.30pm to 2.30pm on Tuesday for people to find out how teachers and staff support the children to have good mental health.

On the other end of the age spectrum there is a dementia friends session at the Arts Centre from 4.30pm on Friday and a death café at Soulshine Café from 2pm on Monday.

Mr Williams said the festival has a number of objectives.

“We want to reduce the stigma of mental illness, which is really serious and prevents people seeking a diagnosis or even talking about what is happening. By reducing that stigma people who really need help will seek it earlier. Reducing the onset of any illness is always a good thing.

“That’s one aspect. Another is focusing on the creativity of the mind. There are numerous examples of scientists and artists of all disciplines who have a tendency towards mental illness, which in some ways drives their creativity.”

A further objective is for more people to be aware of the whole spectrum of moods which can affect everyone - and to encourage this, an interactive mood wall will be placed in the Chapel in the Garden for people to place stickers on according to their mood each day of the festival.

For more information about any of the events, and how to get involved, visit bridportmindfest.org