Getting the (big) word out

We all enjoy hearing a story, especially a love story, so prepare yourself for Big Word of Mouth, a night out with a difference. Jill Chadwick met up with organiser Paula Kontelj to find out more about a fun fundraiser where secret stories will be shared...

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Thursday’s Big Word of Mouth launch will help raise funds for GO, the charity that is all about providing opportunities to the island’s young people. Pictured are Jim Delbridge, patron of GO, his wife, Jo and event organiser Paula Kontelj, right.(Picture by Steve Sarre, 18961704)

BACK in her native Australia, Paula Kontelj’s friend, comedian Margaret Linley, launched Big Word of Mouth, a night where the gloves come off and allow you to share some real life tales of love, woe and more.

Margaret had been to New York and seen the event in action. She knew it would go down a storm back home in Melbourne – and it did. Now she is helping Paula stage a launch-night show in Guernsey.

The innovative idea is for a night of fun and storytelling, with a prize for the best – and it’s certainly something very new on the island’s entertainment scene.

‘Guernsey has never seen anything like this before and we hope it is going to be popular.’

There’s a more serious element, too. Thursday’s Big Word of Mouth launch will help raise funds for GO, the charity that is all about giving opportunities to the island’s young people.

And Paula is certain there is plenty of fun in store.

She came to live in Guernsey with her husband Srechko (Stretch), the global legal director for Specsavers, and the couple have settled in well and enjoy the laid-back lifestyle.

When Stretch was asked to take up the post he was working in Melbourne and had been the company’s legal director for Asia.

‘We just thought why not give it a go, and mix it up a little?’

Paula has found life very different but she immediately embraced her new home and has got involved as a fitness instructor at Beau Sejour Leisure Centre, where she teaches Pilates and Zumba classes.

‘I’ve always taught fitness and buy into the “fit body, fit mind” concept.

And life is never dull.

‘We have three grown-up children so I tend to spend half a year in Guernsey and half a year in Australia – it’s like having the best of both worlds.

‘My husband’s family moved to Australia from Communist Slovenia in the 1950s and their son has basically turned around and practically come back.’

Paula’s background in Australia was as a radio presenter and she’s not someone who is content to sit back and twiddle her thumbs. She’s excited to be launching Big Word of Mouth and hopes that if it proves successful it will become an annual event.

‘The concept is quite a simple one. The audience will be invited to volunteer to stand up and speak for no more than seven minutes about the theme of love. It can be a lost love, a real love story, a love of something or someone – the brief is very broad. A bell will sound when you have spoken for six minutes to give you a one minute warning.

‘So far I know of a few men who have shown an interest in telling a story, but we do want lots of people to turn up – and we want women to volunteer, too. We will put all names into a hat and pull out five who will actually tell their stories.’

Margaret is excited about coming to Guernsey. Big Word of Mouth, she says, is a night like no other.

‘There is nothing to hide behind, no props, no notes, it is the best sort of story telling there is.’

She also enjoys the fun element where the audience gets the chance to decide who is telling lies and who is telling the truth.

‘To get the evening going Jim Delbridge, the patron of GO, and his wife, Jo, have agreed to stand up and tell a story each. It’s going to be a storytelling session with real twist. One will be true, one false and the audience have to vote for who they think is telling the truth.’

The show is being compered by Paula but Margaret is also due to make an appearance with a few entertaining stories of her own.

‘Each story is being judged and the winner will be treated to a luxury overnight stay at Stocks Hotel in Sark,’ Paula explains.

‘Margaret is a fantastic comedian, loves telling stories and she is due to appear at a festival in Belfast. She began with just telling funny stories and it went from there. Everyone is going to love her.’

Paula is hopeful that the Guernsey audience will embrace the new event and buy into having some fun and raising funds for a great local charity.

‘Everyone has a love story of some sort and we can’t wait to see who turns up and hear what they have to share.’

Big Word of Mouth is in the Johnson Suite at Les Rocquettes Hotel at 7pm on Thursday 10 August.

Tickets are £10, to include a welcome glass of Pimm’s, and are available from guernseytickets.gg

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