INTERVIEW WITH BÉA SALMON-HAWK - TRANSFORMATIONAL STORYTELLER

inspirational life stories 

Meet Béa, a transformational storyteller, from France. As a UK resident for over 40 years Béa's future was thrown into turmoil as the Yes vote for Brexit was announced. Learn how she overcame this, to write a new chapter in her life, and how through storytelling she is now helping others to find solutions to their life worries. 


“Stories create community, enable us to see through the eyes of other people, and open us to the claims of others.”


- Peter Forbes, photographer and author  

q: Please give us a brief introduction to you

A: I am a 63 years old french woman living in the South East of Ireland and a storyteller. I believe very much that stories can change lives. I am passionate about my performance work and also currently working on two books about stories. One for children and one for adults.

q: The UK was your home for 40 years. What impact did Brexit have on you?

A:  When the results of the referendum were announced, from one day to the next my neighbours were  telling me they had voted to leave because they did not like migrants. Then they would hastily add “We don’t mean you”. Suddenly, I no longer felt welcomed. I had acquired Permanent Residency Status in 1978 but was told this was no longer valid and I would have to re-apply. This seemed unnecessarily cruel and very frightening. So I decided it would be better for my mental health to leave. 

q: At 60 years old you decided to relocate to Ireland and start a new chapter in your life. Did you always have such a positive mind-set or was there a process behind this?

A:  There is always a process behind this. For me it is based on the storytelling model. You start the story of your life, le’ts say and then there are things in the way. Somehow, Cinderella has to find a way to get a dress to get to the ball! She could choose to become depressed and decide that she’ll stay home. Instead, she asks for help and gets it. So, after I had wailed for a while, I decided to change
the story. I could stay and become embittered and depressed. I could stay and apply for “settled status” and never feel really safe in the UK (after all they had changed their mind once so why not again) and be consumed by anxiety or I could leave and start afresh. Somewhere where I had links already.

q: Your work as a transformational story teller is very interesting and not Something I had come across before. What types of stories do you tell and how can people hear your story telling?

A:  I tell all sorts of stories. For the main Celtic Festivals, I usually I spend Halloween/Samhain at Loftus Hall, Imbolc (early February) at Hook Lighthouse, Beltane (1st May) at Loftus Hall and Lughnasa (Lamas) at Creacon Healing Centre.

I also tell stories at Modwords Waterford Events and The Rogues Gallery.

I work for many of the local festivals in Waterford and Wexford as well as in pubs and sometimes event in the streets. I told the stories of the women of New Ross in the town every Saturday in the streets of New Ross last summer.

If you fancy catching me, please check out my Facebook Page Baya The Storyteller. All my events are on it.

If you are in Waterford on Saturday 21st December, I shall be in the streets, even if it is snowing, telling the story of “The Little Matchgirl” to raise money for our homeless citizens.

q: You come from a line of story tellers. Growing up who was your favourite story teller and what story had the biggest impact on you?

A:  My mother was my favourite story teller and my favourite story was Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Because I loved the fact that she eventually gets everything just right for her. I remember being the grand old age of 12, in hospital, having had my appendix out and asking my mum to tell me the story to help with the pain.

Another story which I loved was Alphone Daudet’s “The Little White Goat” who fights the wolf all night and dies when the sun rises. Victorious in spite of death as my mother would say. I would always beg her to change the ending but she would refuse and say mysteriously (I was a child, remember) “Freedom is always worth dying for”.

q: Every story has a message to share. What are some of the important messages that you share in your stories?

A:  I tell the very old versions of Fairy Tales. If we take something like Cinderella (each country has a version of it, by the way). In the very ancient versions of it, there is no fairy godmother at all. There is a hazelnut tree! And the dead mother talks to the little girl through it. It is much more interesting that way because the little girl learns what to do herself not by magical means.

q: You are passionate about sharing stories that can help heal others. Can you expand on some of the themes that you encounter the most often?

A:  All stories are powerful. I am currently working on the story of Perceval and The Holy Grail. Perceval is a young man who is offered the sacred Grail vessel, a bit like the salmon of knowledge. He knows what the Grail can do, he knows he could have it but he cannot allow himself to ask the correct question because his mother told him asking questions was rude! How often do we encounter our
dreams, our dearest wishes and at the last minute find a reason not to have them? We say “I am too old/too poor/too fat” or “I have not got the time” for example and our dreams go somewhere else to be dreamt by someone else may be.

q: Was it important that you had also encountered some of these problems and overcame them so you could show others how they could also overcome them too?

A:  I think it is vital to experience the stories and the changes that they bring before I tell them to anyone. There are stories I revisit every year for the Celtic Festivals and every year, as I study them anew, I find another meaning or another twist to them. That is very exciting!

q: What advice would you give to someone who feels they have lost their sense of who they are?

A:  It happens a lot in life! Don’t panic. We lose ourselves into all sorts of ways. When we have children, for example, we can become “mother” and try very hard to be someone else, then the label sticks to us and the children leave and we have lost our sense of who we are. All is not lost though and sometimes what helps is to think about your future self. If you could be anyone, do anything, what
would you be in 5 years time. Imagine her/him the best you can and then ask them for some advice.

Where can people find you? my website is bayathestoryteller.com and the easiest way to contact me is through my Facebook page Baya The Storyteller.

Have a great day!

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