A one-day Poetry Festival focusing on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes held at Padiham Unitarian Chapel on 9th June 2018, gained highly favourable reviews.   

One younger attender wrote on Facebook: “I attended an amazing Poetry Day at Padiham Unitarian Chapel on Saturday, it was fantastic … with two amazing speakers and a wonderful poetry workshop to finish with.”   Another present wrote in thanks afterwards to say that she’d: ‘thoroughly enjoyed the day … revisiting Ted Hughes and being introduced to Sylvia Plath’.

Several videos of special events at Padiham Unitarian Chapel are available to view on the ukunitarian.tv website:

Two lecture from the 2018 Poetry Festival of the North are available - The Poetry of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath - Beyond Confession

A Joint Multi-Faith Service entitled ‘Sacred Songs of Hope’ on 24th September 2017, with women’s Inter-faith choir Sacred Sounds and Sufi Qawwali singers Shahe Mardan, can be seen in two parts, the first part is here and it continues here

The Poetry Festival of the North on the English War Poets in June 2017, (Part 1).  First lecture by Theresa Sowerby entitled ‘Never Such Innocence’ exploring the impact of the Great War through its poets, particularly Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg.  It can be seen here.

Poetry Festival of the North on English War Poets, June 2017, Second lecture (Part 2) by Rev Jim Corrigall on: ‘Edward Thomas: Nature Poet or War Poet?’ commemorating centenary of the poet’s death at the Front.  It is available here.  

Our Anniversary Service on Sunday 17th April 2016 can be seen here 

A lecture at the first Poetry Festival of the North at Padiham Unitarian Chapel on T.S. Eliot, in June 2015, was recorded at the Unitarian annual conference in Birmingham (in April 2016).  It was, given by the Rev Jim Corrigall (with readings by Rev Gillian Peel) on: ‘Religion and Poetry in T.S. Eliot’, focusing on ‘Four Quartets’.  It can be viewed here:    

Readers & Speakers
Pictured: Festival readers and speakers after the second night (from left): Gillian Peel, Jim Corrigall, Theresa Sowerby and David Rushton. Photo: John Hewerdine.


A festival of English poetry during war-time attracted lively audiences to Padiham Unitarian Chapel (in Lancashire) on the first three Saturdays of June 2017, with numbers averaging around 50 each evening.   This third annual poetry festival at the Padiham Chapel was entitled ‘Edward Thomas and the English War Poets’, and marked the centenary of the death of Edward Thomas at the Front in April 1917. 

In the first lecture (on 3rd June), the poet Theresa Sowerby explored First World War poetry, particularly that of Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg, against the wider culture of the time.   She was supported by readings from David Rushton. 

Then on 10th June, Rev Jim Corrigall, minister at Padiham, concentrated on Edward Thomas, asking whether he is best described as a nature poet or war poet, with support from Rev Gillian Peel as reader.    Finally (17th June), the poet Edmund Prestwich examined the brutally-honest writings of the Second World War poet Keith Douglas, who was killed in the Normandy landings at the early age of 24.  

Lively discussion followed the lectures.   Several audience members said afterwards they’d greatly enjoyed the festival, which they described as ‘brilliant’.   The Festival was organised by the Lancashire Collaborative Ministry.

Jim Corrigall

Service leaders Rauf Bashir and Rev Jim Corrigall in  Padiham Unitarian Chapel.     Photo: John Hewerdine 

A vibrant multi-faith service attracted 200 people to Padiham Unitarian Chapel in Lancashire on Sunday 24th September 2017, for an extraordinary celebration of music and songs from around the world.

The large congregation joined in as an inter-faith women’s choir, Sacred Sounds, led songs from many traditions, including Jewish (in Hebrew), Christian (Gospel), Hindu and Muslim, and from Celtic spirituality.

They were followed by the Shahe Mardan group, who introduced a form of Sufi Muslim devotional singing known as Qawwali.  This combines South Asian musical instruments, including drums, with haunting devotional songs of great power.

Sufi Qawwali musicians from the group Shahe Mardan begin their devotional singing.     Photo: John Hewerdine.

The service was introduced with prayers and readings from Sacred Scripture (the Bible and the Qur’an) by the organisers, the Unitarian Minister Rev Jim Corrigall, and Rauf Bashir of the Free Spiritual Centre in Pendle.
In a short address, Jim Corrigall said while those taking part were from different traditions, it was vital that people of faith joined in celebrating what they had in common, above all the core teaching of all faiths, that “love and peace should rule our hearts and our societies”.   “In this spirit, we raise our songs of joy and hope to God,” he said.

Rauf Bashir said the essence of Sufism is about striving for nearness to God – and music represents a key pathway for this.   He explained about different types of Sufi music and songs -- which express “the longing to be closer to God”.

Rauf Bashir concluded: “Just as the rain and the sun do not differentiate between peoples, neither should we.   Only when you experience friendship across cultures, do you understand that there are good people in all communities.  God showers unlimited love and mercy on us all, if we choose to receive it.”