A one-man show at the upcoming York Festival of Ideas showcases ‘the power of gratitude’ in transforming the personal grief of writer/performer James Pretlove.

The festival, running from June 1 to June 14, includes more than 200 mainly free events, addressing the ‘power’ of a range of topics to help audiences understand the world around them – from nature, to education, and history.

In ‘Seventy-Eight Thank Yous’, James said how, when his mother Val Pretlove took her own life at the age of 78 in 2018, his shock and anguish lessened as he came up with a series of thank yous to her, one for each year of her life.

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The performer, writer and teacher struggled to get that work published but during a session with a psychic he was told to stop hiding behind his laptop and start sharing his work in-person instead.

James said: “She told me that 'they' - her guides and mine on the other side - were telling me that I would never get it published the way I was going about it, and that I needed to get out and find a way to deliver it in-person.

“That I should stop hiding behind my computer screen.

“I loved hiding behind it at the time and was terrified at the prospect of getting up in front of people and performing something.

“I ignored that bit of her advice for a time, and then discovered a four-weekend autobiographical storytelling course.

"It was doing the course which made me see that actually, I really loved getting up and performing, and it was after that that I developed the staged version of the memoir.”

James said sharing his story has enabled his transformation to go further than he could have believed.

The work has been performed all over the country including at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

He said: “I have been amazed to hear how many people’s lives have been touched eby someone else’s suicide.

“There are way too few places where this subject can be freely discussed without shame, judgement, or threats of intervention and one of my thank yous to mum is that I now get to engage in such conversations.”

Seventy-Eight Thank Yous is performed at The Marriott Room, York Explore, Library Square at 2.30pm on Sunday June 9 and 6.30pm on Monday June 10.

Tickets are available at https://dandelion.events/e/i0hex

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