Former Borders MP Michael Moore says he is “delighted and honoured” to be the new chairman of the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival.
Also a former cabinet minister in the previous Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government at Westminster, Mr Moore is taking over the role from Francis Hamilton, who stepped down following the 2015 festival after 12 years’ service.
As a long-time supporter of the annual festival, which this year will run from June 16-19, Mr Moore described the event one of the “jewels in the crown” of the Borders.
The announcement comes as the festival’s creative team, Alistair Moffat and Paula Ogilvie, make plans for the 2016 event which will see a special focus on youth events and a weekend of medieval re-enactment along with the usual host of literary stars.
Commenting on his appointment as chairman, Mr Moore said: “As a local resident as well as MP, I have always been absolutely committed to the Borders, and the book festival is one of the jewels in our crown. I go every year and marvel at the stunning programmes of events that are always put together – I’m honoured and delighted now to be involved officially.
“I look forward to helping in any way I can as the festival continues to go from strength to strength.
“Taking over this role now is very straightforward – the hard work has been done over the past 12 years by Alistair Moffat, Paula Ogilvie, Francis Hamilton and many others to make the festival the great success it is.
“I pay tribute to the brilliant job done by Francis in supporting what Alistair and Paula have done year after year. As chairman, Francis will be a tough act to follow, but I am delighted that he will remain on the board as a trustee.”
The plans for 2016 build on the great success of last year when more than 22,300 people visited the Borders Book Festival, held at Harmony House and Garden in Melrose each June.
The festival continues to be the largest and best attended arts event between Edinburgh and Newcastle, and its ‘Schools Gala Day’ attracts more than 1,500 pupils and their teachers.
Last year a new food and drink village created in the Harmony Orchard introduced many more people to the festival.
Even though it lasts only four days, the event generates a significant economic boost for the region, with a recent study estimating that it creates spending worth more than £2.5million.
Commenting on Mr Moore’s appointment and the plans for 2016, festival director Mr Moffat said: “We are delighted that Michael has agreed to join the team at the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival.
“He has shown great commitment to what we do and will bring a wealth of experience to the role as chairman. Francis has been a great colleague and chairman over the past dozen years and I am really pleased that he will continue to offer us support and advice as a member of the board.
“And as the new year begins, we are already well under way in preparing for the next instalment of the festival in June. There will be lots more to hear about over the next few months – watch this space!”
The full programme for this year’s festival will be announced in mid-April.