June Whitfield heads line-up at fun-filled Wemsfest

ACTS June Whitfield will be part of the line-up at Wemsfest
ACTS June Whitfield will be part of the line-up at Wemsfest
Enthusiast Matt Searson with his selction of collectable vinyl releases. Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180341-007)

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SHE’S one of the country’s favourite comic actresses and she’s coming to a parish hall near you.

Absolutely Fabulous and Terry and June star June Whitfield will be taking tea and chatting about her life at Westbourne Parish Hall as part of the line-up for Wemsfest, which starts tonight.

The two-week extravaganza of music, art, spoken word, food and outdoor fun straddles both Emsworth and Westbourne and is the brainchild of Mark Ringwood, the man behind the successful Americana and world music festival, Roots Around the World.

The Emsworth resident decided to put on events at small venues which musicians would not usually play in.

Among the artists are folk favourite John Otway, Celtic harpist and Irish pipes players Harriet Earis and Colman Connolly and Fairport Convention’s fiddler Ric Sanders.

Mark, 58, said: ‘It all started with a casual conversation over a pint in the Stags Head on a Sunday afternoon in January and from there it grew.

‘I’m a music agent and I book a lot of artists and thought why not get them here?

‘Although I live in Emsworth I’m actually closer to Westbourne so I decided to do something that would embrace both villages.

‘We managed to get the lovely June Whitfield on board through a contact and we’re so pleased she said yes.

‘I’m also really looking forward to seeing the Racton Follies, which is made up of local actors and a local director.’

As well as the music there will be quirky events such as a full moon bike ride through the South Downs, a family picnic organised by Fat Olives, in Emsworth, and talks by writers and authors.

Theatre director John Sluggett will give a talk at the Woodmancote Arms on life behind the scenes in the early days of Chichester Theatre.

Highlights include:

· Barn Dance at St James Parish Hall, Emsworth on Saturday

· Senegalese harpist Seckou Keiat at The Boat Deck, Emsworth, on Wednesday

· June Whitfield at St John’s Parish Hall, Westbourne, on September 23.

Tickets are selling fast. Go to wemsfest.com or Bookends in High Street, Emsworth or wegottickets.com.