Tony Hadley kicks off Wickham Festival in style

Tony Hadley at the Wickham Festival last night Picture: Sarah Standing (161124-1133)
Tony Hadley at the Wickham Festival last night Picture: Sarah Standing (161124-1133)
Ricky Fitzgerald, 40, of Cissbury Road, Burgess Hill

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THE Wickham Festival got off to a spectacular start with Tony Hadley headlining the main stage.

The Spandau Ballet singer performed to a packed-out audience on the All Time Grates stage last night.

From left, Sharon Halifax from Stubbington, enjoying her first festival with friends Paul Cadman and Jane Cadman from Bishop's Waltham. 

Picture: Sarah Standing (161124-972)

From left, Sharon Halifax from Stubbington, enjoying her first festival with friends Paul Cadman and Jane Cadman from Bishop's Waltham. Picture: Sarah Standing (161124-972)

Scottish songwriter Eddi Reader also performed on the first day, alongside fellow Scots Blazin’ Fiddles and Southampton singer Just Millie.

Hadley pleased the crowd by performing some of Spandau Ballet’s most golden hits, as well as teasing tracks from his forthcoming solo album.

He said: ‘Everyone seems in really good spirits and that’s all you want at a festival.

‘I’ve got fabulous musicians and a great set of songs and I’m out there singing my heart out. You just want to put on the best show you possibly can and for people to talk about it’.

After being voted Britain’s best small festival at the Live UK Music Business Awards, Wickham has expanded to a 7,000 capacity.

Organiser Peter Chegwyn said that 2016 is Wickham’s biggest year yet.

He said: ‘It’s going brilliantly. It’s always a lovely moment when the first artists go on stage because the cloud lifts. You have spent a year organising it and suddenly you see the product of all your effort.

‘Ticket sales have been really good, and the feeling from the community is fantastic.’

The site suffered heavy rain earlier this week but that didn’t put a dampener on anybody’s fun as they enjoyed sunny spells throughout yesterday.

Festival-goers also enjoyed tarot readings, a digital funfair, and market stalls and side shows.

Greg and Barbara Dymott from Gosport said they have been coming for the last three or four years.

‘There’s good music, a great atmosphere and plenty to do,’ they added.

Sue Lancashire, from Soberton Heath, said: ‘We came to see Tony Hadley but we’re going to bring our kids on Friday – they obviously want families here.’

Millie Claxton from Southampton said ‘It’s like a little hippy retreat. The people are just here for the music.

Emma Champion, from London, said: ‘It is the most civilised and pleasant festival that there is.’

The Wickham Festival continues today, with performances from Slim Chance, From The Jam and headliners The Stranglers.

The SAS Band, Hayseed Dixie, Chas & Dave and Lindisfarne will also make appearances over the weekend.