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Conversation With…Jill Blanchard

Where we chat with Jill Blanchard, Brandon Creative Forum and MarketPlace Creative Collective member

August 2020

Jill Blanchard, Member of Brandon Creative Forum & the MarketPlace Creative Collective.

Tell us a little about yourself outside of Brandon Creative Forum.

I’m Jill Blanchard, retired but with many more years to go (I hope). I’ve lived in Brandon for the past 37 years so I’m still classed as a newcomer. When we returned from living abroad for 17 years we moved to London, which lasted about 6 months and then decided to come to this area, with our two sons, three dogs, adopted a cat (actually she adopted us) and then along the way, a horse. Now, just my husband and I live here with no house pets but still a horse (not the original one).

I enjoy carriage driving and messing around at the stables. I’ve always had a deep interest in amateur theatre and have been engaged with all that that entails. In addition to the Brandon Creative Forum I work with three other ladies to put on Pumpkin Fest in the Country Park. And with a friend of mine, putting together the town Christmas Grotto, where we take over the whole Heritage Centre, mostly from recycled and sustainably resourced items. Brandon is in a lovely area with the forest and its wildlife, and with open countryside out to the fens. I would say quiet but with USAF nearby that isn’t always the case.

Why do you feel creativity is important for the town and local area?

We need creativity in Brandon to bring the best out of the community, especially the younger generation. It’s up to each one of us to show, encourage and take part in seeing, enjoying and pushing the boundaries to achieve.

Being part of MarketPlace has certainly broadened my horizons and creative thinking, mixing and learning both from others on the forum representing artists, poetry, writing, music. Our new Creative Collective is opening new doors, investigating more and joining with the other MarketPlace towns to share our experiences and knowledge collected along the way.

I’m looking forward to more meetings, investigating new and interesting aspects and share our experiences with each other so we can all help build and bring new excitement to our communities.

Do you have any creative plans for the future?

Hopefully, as Brandon Creative Forum, we are adding to local events and there certainly seems to be an appetite for the more unusual with community participation, and the emphasis on enjoyment by “having a go” besides watching and being able to enjoy activities not normally associated with our town.

A long time ambition of mine and I know others on our forum, is to have an Arts Centre in the town. Brandon does not have a centre for community use, drawing the whole community together. All of our hopes and dreams can only come with the continued support from Market Place and those who support it, but the first place for Brandon needing a community facility I think will be our local council, so beware all, we will be needing your continued help and support.