While most of Verse Festival 2020, Stamford's fifth festival of poetry and spoken word, was postponed due to the Coronavirus, the selection process for Poet Laureate went ahead using the video conference app, Zoom.
Audience members were able to watch from home as each applicant performed a live reading for the panel of judges, who included Stamford's then Deputy Mayor, now Mayor, Maxine Couch; Stamford's 2018-20 Poet Laureate Chris Martin; and Verse Festival coordinator and South Kesteven District Council's Arts Programme Officer Karen Burrows.
After a closely fought linguistic battle, the judges deliberated and declared Rob Ellks the winner.
Rob said: "It is an absolute honour to be selected as Stamford's Poet Laureate, and a huge thank-you goes to the panel for showing such faith in me as a poet.
"Poetry is a thriving medium in Stamford where the town's Arts Centre vigorously support poetry, bringing some of the biggest names to perform there and I look forward to liaising with their wonderful staff and other local groups.
"In these trying and unusual times poetry is a wonderful medium for engaging our mind in a positive fashion and thus supports our mental wellbeing. I will do my upmost as an ambassador for poetry in the local area in my time as the Poet Laureate."
Rob's role will include writing and performing original work for occasions and events such as Remembrance Day, Battle of Britain Parade and the Holocaust Memorial Service. The Poet Laurette also works with Stamford Arts Centre to support the spoken-word scene in the town, and at local events such as Pint Of Poetry in the Cellar Bar.
Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, SKDC Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, said: "Poetry plays a significant role in the Stamford Arts Centre programme and the presence of a Poetry Stone in the High Street is a clear indication of the town's commitment to this highly popular creative discipline.
"The promotion of local poets and other creative practitioners in South Kesteven is essential. The role of Stamford's Poet Laureate provides a superb platform for this art form, offering inspiration to audiences and budding poets of all ages across the district. Congratulations to Rob Ellks on his appointment and our grateful thanks to all those submitting entries this year."
If you would like to get in touch with the Poet Laureate or to discuss poetry or art events in the local area, please email firstname.lastname@example.org