A SILSDEN author and performer stars in a new production about life on the River Aire.

David Driver plays Jemmy Hirst in Airey Tales, which has its world premiere next week as part of Saltaire Festival.

The play, with songs, explores the history of the waterway and its people and celebrates the return to the river of creatures threatened with extinction.

Writer Eddie Lawler says: “Having lived close to the River Aire for many years, I’ve seen it go through lots of changes. The pollution, the loss of wildlife due to habitat destruction, the devastation of flooding and the intervention of concerned groups to help clean it up.

“When I lived in Saltaire I commented on all of these through my songs, even earning the soubriquet Bard of Saltaire! It’s important that we all take care of our rivers and things with fins and wings that live on and near them; this play shows how we humans can do that.”

He said organisations such as the Aire Rivers Trust and Friends of Bradford’s Becks had been central to many creatures returning to the river – through measures such as monitoring and tackling pollution, carrying out work on the riverbanks and installing fish ladders so salmon can once again swim upstream to spawn.

Mr Driver said he was delighted to be taking part in the production.

“I didn’t know anything about Jemmy Hirst of Rawcliffe until I got involved – what a character!” he says.

“Also, I’ve always been wary of singing in public since being told at school that I was rubbish at it – so appearing in Airey Tales has at last broken that taboo!”

Mr Driver is well known in Silsden for his performing and as an author, poet and broadcaster.

His published work includes a novel, short stories and poetry.

He hosts an open-mic night in Silsden and is a founder of The Gingerlicious Company, which facilitates creative writing workshops and projects.

Other cast members in Airey Tales include Liberty Jackson, who plays Goddess Janet. She trained at Manchester School of Acting and the National Youth Theatre.

Otter is played by Angie Smiles, who studied classical singing at Leeds College of Music. She has had various acting roles and performs stand-up comedy at festivals across the UK.

Playing Mayfly is Rachel Watson, and the role of Lamprey is played by Bradford writer and actor Irene Lofthouse.

The director is Wakefield-based Stephen Brennan, who is well-known on the theatre scene in Yorkshire and beyond.

The play premieres at the Caroline Street Social Club in Saltaire on Wednesday (September 15), at 7.30pm.

Tickets are £10. To book, visit ticketsource.co.uk/saltaire-community-festival. There is a booking fee.