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Stroud & Proud: Shannon Newton – Tom Cruise, Star Anise and an amazing fella


Originally from Florence, South Carolina in the United States, Shannon spent more than 10 years in fundraising and event planning in New York City.

She created a campaign to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing with a few tipsy astronauts, reopened the Hall of Ocean Life under the Big Blue Whale at the American Museum of Natural History, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball colour barrier and created events with Tony Bennett, Bette Midler and Cher.   

After relocating to England, Shannon joined national charity Fields in Trust, coordinating a range of campaigns and royal events throughout the UK.   A resident of Tetbury, Shannon has worked on the past five Stroud Book Festivals and is delighted to be working with local businesses like Waitrose and Bailey Paints on the next Stroud Book Festival. The latest news on this year’s festival is at www.stroudbookfestival.org.uk

When were you at your happiest?   

I moved to New York City when I was 23, lived there for over 10 years and loved every second. That said, after I married my English husband and relocated to the Cotswolds, I would have to say that I am happiest now! 

What has been your biggest disappointment?  

Twice in my career (when I was much younger), I really doubted myself and I shouldn’t have. Moving from New York to the Cotswolds was a big adjustment and I continue to learn to stand by my convictions and have faith in my voice as an advocate for the organisations and people that I work with.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?  

The Biscoff Scruffin from Salt Bakehouse or the Grand Marnier Prawns at Chin Chin in New York City. If I had a time machine, it would be my mother’s buttermilk fried chicken made in her kitchen or steamed blue crabs on the deck at our beach house off the coast of the Carolinas.

What is your favourite smell? 

I love the smell of coffee and clean laundry! It is the only chore I will cheerfully volunteer for and I am lucky to have a partner who does more than his share around the house while I race around the Cotswolds on a mission to find funding for Stroud Book Festival. 

Who would play you in a film about your life?  

I don’t think we should be allowed to choose so I asked my lovely husband and he said Sally Field. I have been told more than once that I look like Holly Hunter, who would also be amazing. Southern to her toes, bless her heart. 

What do you like most about  Stroud?   

I love the people of Stroud. The artists and dreamers and champions of the underdog who live here and work here and support each other. Stroud reminds me of some of New York’s more colourful neighbourhoods – The West Village, Hells Kitchen and Park Slope. There is always something new to see at the Market and people to meet with such interesting stories. 

What would you improve about Stroud?  

I would love to see the centre of Stroud pedestrianised and free parking throughout the town. I loved Stroud Book Festival’s event a few years ago with Rob Hopkins on how we can use our imagination to create the future we want.  I want to dream big and help Stroud develop into even more of a cultural hub of the Cotswolds.

What is your ideal weekend? 

Sitting in the sun beside a pool somewhere warm with all my family around me and the time to read a good book. I have the luxury of working with many amazing colleagues, including Caroline Sanderson, Stroud Book Festival’s Artistic Director, and Louise Brice, our Marketing Director. As the Book Festival grows, year on year, so does my list of wonderful books to read! 

What is on your bucket list?  

Travel may be a long lost memory for many of us but one day, I would love to see the Pyramids of Egypt.

What is the most important  lesson life has taught you?  

Life is short, go for your dreams and being kind is always the best way forward. 

What public figures do you most admire? 

I admire creativity and having conviction – Lin Manuel Miranda, Greta Thunberg, John Irving and Tina Fey are just a few that spring to mind. 

Who is the most famous person in your phone? 

I have been an event planner for many, many years, and have plenty of crazy celebrity stories. Scrolling through I spotted Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise and Michael Jordan.

What are your best and worst qualities? 

I am loyal and determined to give 100% all the time. My worst quality is I struggle with work life balance and making time for my family when my events shift into high gear! Did I mention I was married to an amazing fella? 

What book, song and drink would you take with you if stranded on an uninhabited island

This one is tough because I would hate to get tired of a favourite. The easy answer is the complete works of Shakespeare and Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutti. I think a latte from Star Anise is heaven.

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