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Goring & Streatley Festival a rousing success
Published 10/07/14

THOUSANDS of people attended the closing celebrations of this year’s inaugural Goring and Streatley Festival.

Families basked in the sunshine on Sunday afternoon as the Wimbledon men’s final was shown live on a 13ft screen in Streatley Meadows.

Hundreds of origami swans which people had made at a workshop at Goring’s Rectory Gardens earlier in the day were floated down the Thames.

The free event ended with a Last Night of the Proms-style concert, featuring ukulele group The Ukes of Hazzard and the Goring and Streatley Concert Band.

The band played film scores including The Dam Busters March, My Heart Will Go On from Titanic and the theme music from Star Wars.

It also accompanied piper Ian King, from Goring, for a rendition of Highland Cathedral and the Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir for patriotic songs including Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem with soprano Bonnie Dawn Roberts, who lives in Goring.

Festival organiser Ron Bridle said: “It was a very stirring and exciting moment. Everybody was singing along and people were quite emotional. They were all waving Union flags.”

The 10-day festival began on June 27 and included almost 50 events at 19 venues across the villages.

Georgie Fame played two sold-out concerts at Goring village hall on Friday night, which were shown on a big screen in Rectory Gardens. The Sixties star sang his three No1 hits, Yeh Yeh, The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde and Getaway, and chatted with the audience between songs.

Mr Bridle said: “There was a great atmosphere and a lot of older people who remembered him from his early days were there. It was rather nostalgic for me because I used to watch him playing at the Flamingo Club in Soho when I was a teenager.

“It was exciting to see him again but it also felt a bit strange seeing him here in Goring after all that time.”

St Thomas’ Church was packed out on the same night for a recital by the Ruisi String Quartet.

The following evening there were two sold-out concerts by Goring rock band The Lightyears at the village hall, which were also shown on the outdoor big screen.

Other highlights included an outdoor performance by all-female harmony group Songbirds at the Swan Hotel in Streatley.

Throughout the week there were workshops on subjects including drawing, pottery, circus skills, drumming, costume making, dancing, singing and meditation.

There were art exhibitions, comedy nights, puppetry and storytelling evenings, a Twenties tea dance and a bell ringing demonstration at St Thomas’.

The proceeds from the festival will go towards staging another one next year and a portion will be donated to the charity Starlight, which grants the wishes of terminally ill children.

Neil Swan, the charity’s chief executive who lives in Goring, gave a speech of thanks during the closing celebrations.

Mr Bridle said: “The entire festival was absolutely brilliant and I’m really happy with how much support it got. I couldn’t have asked for a better result.

“Everything went to plan and it was consistently busy as people turned out in large numbers.

“I’m exhausted because it took a lot of effort but very relieved that it went so well. A lot of people helped make it happen and I’m very thankful for their support.

“We’ve got to clear up a ton of rubbish and take signs down but everything should be back to normal in a couple of days.”

Artistic director Patricia Williams said: “It was brilliant — we had the whole of both villages buzzing and we achieved our aim of offering a wide range of events. We also have lot of ideas for next year’s festival.”

The festival was funded from the sales of a photo album and DVD of the village’s diamond jubilee celebrations in 2012, which Mr Bridle also organised.

You can see more pictures from the event here.

PUBLISHED 10/07/14

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