Wickham Festival 2021 saved thanks to loyal fans showing their support with cash donations - and there's still time to donate

FESTIVAL fans have shown their support for an annual live music event – by putting their hands in their pockets.

By Kimberley Barber
Thursday, 27th August 2020, 9:00 am
Updated Thursday, 27th August 2020, 10:23 am

The future of the Wickham Festival, which takes place in fields off Blind Lane every August, was left in jeopardy after organisers racked up more than £50,000 debts when they were forced to cancel this year’s show due to coronavirus restrictions.

A crowdfunder was launched earlier this month to help the organisers recoup some of the lost money – and ensure the festival will return in style next year.

Now, with just days left until the fund that aims to raise £30,000 closes, people are being urged to dig deep.

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Wickham Festival 2019 on Saturday at Blind Lane in Wickham - Kiefer Sutherland and his band perform on The Village Stage. Picture: Vernon Nash (040819-006)

Organiser Peter Chegwyn said: ‘Like every other festival we have been hit hard by the lockdown and we have not received a penny in funding from the government support schemes. We have had to rely on the generosity of our audience.

‘The postponement meant we lost £50,000 in non-recoverable costs as well as having to give out refunds to those who cannot make the August 5-8 dates next year.’

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Loyal fans have rallied round and so far they have donated more than £26,000. People who donate can claim a range of goodies, including T-shirts, discounts and VIP tours.

The crowd in the Valley Stage tent waiting for headliner Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls. Picture: Vernon Nash (030819-031)

Peter said: ‘We are incredibly grateful to all those who have contributed any amount, big or small – and to all those who have rolled their tickets over to next year.

‘It has made a huge difference to us and it has helped to secure the festival’s future. We are absolutely overwhelmed by the response and with five days still to go, we are confident of passing the £30,000 target. ‘

The crowdfunding success means the entire four-day scheduled programme has now been rolled over to next year when Van Morrison will be headlining alongside Show of Hands and the Waterboys.

Peter said: ‘Thankfully 90 per cent of purchasers have kept their tickets for next year when Van Morrison, the Waterboys, the SAS Band and almost all our other acts will still be appearing.

Picture: Vernon Nash (030819-007)

‘It does sum up our loyal following. People come back year after year because of the unique atmosphere and top quality entertainment so I am not surprised they are helping us through this crisis but I am still very humbled by their support.

‘It shows the confidence they have in us as well as their affection for a unique event but it says a lot about the audience we attract. I cannot thank them enough.

‘We will do our utmost to make next year’s event the biggest and best yet. It has been an awful year so we will put on a party to remember.’

Also appearing at the festival, which takes place August 5-8, are: The South, Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets, the SAS Band starring Wickham favourites Tom Robinson, Toyah, Steve Harley, Graham Gouldman and many more. Tickets remain valid and full details are available at wickhamfestival.co.uk.

Donations can be made via Twitter @festivalwickham or at crowdfunder.co.uk/please-support-wickham-festival

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