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Category Archives: Totleigh Barton

An experience with Arvon means discovery

By Shakira Irfan, student at Wembley High Technology College

By the end of my experience, I realised that five days in a remote location without internet connection was far from enough. When I think back to Totleigh Barton now, I know that there’s no other place on earth that could ever capture what it really means to feel at one with yourself and the world around you.

Afternoon walks. Cows running down hills. Endless fields upon fields. Nature simply has you in its hold and for the first time in a long time, I was able to think. I was able to see the world for what it was and appreciate more. I took inspiration from a drop of dew on the grass and before I knew it, the drop was called Toby and he had jelly-like arms and legs.

My experience helped open my eyes up to the very concrete details around me that make life so beautiful.

For any young person, Arvon is an extended hand asking you to step out of yourself, leave behind your troubles and stresses and live a little.

By the end of the week, I went from being a stranger among strangers to being a part of a family and I know now that I wouldn’t have wanted to go my whole life without meeting the people that I did.

With the expertise of two talented writers, I learnt so much about being true to my writing and finding the best ways to express myself. I gained skills and techniques to experiment with and allow my ability to write to flourish, to wander a bit more.

But most importantly, I got the chance to discover how to write using my heart and mind and learn that there is nothing or nobody that I should let silence my voice. Young people have voices. You have a voice. I will forever be grateful to First Story and Arvon for giving me the opportunity to find that voice and for whoever is next, you’re in for an experience of a lifetime.


Shakira attended the First Story-Arvon residential course in July 2016.

If you are interested in bringing a school or group to Arvon contact Joe at joe.bibby@arvon.org or read more about what happens on an Arvon week.

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It has rained all week – Antony Dunn

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What A Way to Go – Julia Forster’s Arvon Week

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Arvon & Beyond by E.R. Murray

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Hornet Press: It all started at Totleigh

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Unlocking the People’s Histories: Q&A with tutor Sarah Wise

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Helen Chadwick in Conversation: Songwriting, Poetry & Tips

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A Magic Carpet Ride with Arvon – Julie Summers

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Annette Brook’s Arvon/Jerwood Week: Silence, Bliss & Writing

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Arvon Freehouse of the Imagination: Russ Litten

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Arvon Grants: Emma-Louise Norry’s Arvon Week

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Theodora Clarke – Arvon Revisited: Starting to Write

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