Sunday, 14 August 2022

Gap festival grows to be even better

ORGANISERS of the second biennial Goring Gap Festival have hailed it “bigger and better” than the first.

ORGANISERS of the second biennial Goring Gap Festival have hailed it “bigger and better” than the first.

Thousands of people attended the cultural extravaganza, which took place across several venues in the village between Wednesday and Sunday.

It was headlined by soul singer Ruby Turner, who performed for a sell-out audience of about 500 people in a marquee on Gardiner recreation ground on Saturday night.

The 57-year-old was performing for the first time since she was made an MBE for services to music in the Queen’s birthday honours.

She took to the stage in a flowing white top and performed her hits, including her 1987 cover version of Etta James’s I’d Rather Go Blind, accompanied by a four-piece band.

Her 90-minute set also included several numbers from her latest album, Jools and Ruby, which she recorded with Jools Holland.

Two large screens were set up at either side of the stage so people sitting at the back could see her.

The marquee was also packed to capacity for a series of events on the festival’s final day.

It started with a free breakfast where visitors enjoyed coffee and hot food while reading newspapers and listening to live music by soul and jazz band Not Souled Out. Other activities included origami, yoga, pottery and flower-arranging workshops while children could have a go at making chocolate lollipops.

At 12.15pm, several hundred youngsters and their parents performed a “flash mob” dance on the recreation ground.

The routine was choreographed by Momentum Street Dance and included excerpts from Deee-Lite’s Groove Is In The Heart, Chic’s Le Freak and Daft Punk’s One More Time.

Villagers then enjoyed an afternoon tea to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday while the Goring and Streatley Concert Band performed classic songs including the Dam Busters March and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Tables were set out and volunteers served hot drinks, home-made cakes and sandwiches.

Fourteen villagers who turned 90 this year were invited as guests of honour. They were Gladys Goodship, Brian Baldwin, Dorothy Hughes, Ivy Harwood, Pam Carter, Pearl Laurence, Mary Hoban, Douglas Bending, Bridget Hislop, Daphne Prue, Brian Selman, John Tilbury, Kenneth Williams and Robin Kitcher.

Mrs Hislop, of Queen’s Court, cut a commemorative cake in the shape of a crown on a velvet cushion and each pensioner was given a tea caddy and a specially blended tea.

Stephanie Bridle, of Cleeve Road, who organised the party with her husband Ron, said: “It was a wonderful occasion. They all enjoyed hearing the music of their generation and left very happy.

“One of the ladies was able to get up and dance, despite her age, which was lovely to see.” The festival’s grand finale took place that evening with performances by local swing jazz quartet Heather-Jayne and the Red Shoes and acoustic folk band The Mysteries. DJ Andy Ankerson played music between the sets.

Meanwhile, Goring rock group The Lightyears, who played their first ever gig at the village hall, returned on Friday and played classic rock covers and original songs for a large crowd in the marquee.

On Thursday, an evening with Peep Show actress and comedian lsy Suttie was sold out, as were talks by BBC Springwatch presenter lolo Williams on Saturday and TV historian Dr Lucy Worsley, whose family live in the area, on Sunday.

Sir Peter Stothard, the former editor of The Times, gave a talk about his career and there were recitals by poets Giles Andreae, best known for his Purple Ronnie and Edward Monkton greetings cards, and Luke Wright. 

The Goring Gap Players teamed up with Goring Chamber Choir to perform scenes from Shakespeare plays at St Thomas’s Church.

There were also performances by folk singer Cara Dillon, soprano Alison Rose, the Atea Wind Quartet, vocal sextet Songbirds and disco band Love Shovel as well as workshops on photography, mosaics, print-making, Indonesian drumming, oil painting, swing dancing and handbell ringing.

In keeping with the festival’s theme of “let your imagination fly”, a 20ft wide sculpture of a swan in flight was set up at the Swan Hotel in Streatley and children added “feathers” made from white recycled materials such as plastic bags.

Children from primary schools in the area made smaller “cygnets” from papier mâché which were placed around the hotel’s grounds.

Staff and customers at the Inspired Crafts art café in Goring High Street made a commemorative mosaic depicting colourful hot air balloons in flight over the Goring Gap. This was exhibited at the festival marquee.

Barbara Newman, a member of the festival’s organising committee, said: “It was absolutely fabulous and exceeded all our expectations.

“We’ve had some extremely positive feedback and everybody has commented on how professionally it was run. More events than anticipated were sold out and everyone enjoyed themselves. The marquee was packed to overflowing in the evenings.

“Everybody enjoyed the evening with Ruby Turner. She is a wonderful performer and to have someone of that standard at the festival is a real boost.

“I think we struck a good balance between those high-profile events and ones which involved the schools and the wider community. We brought the whole village together as well as attracting people from further afield.

“The local names were also popular. People were begging for tickets to The Lightyears on Facebook and there were only about five tickets left for Lucy Worsley.

“Despite the rain, the final evening was a lovely occasion. We had hoped it might be sunny but people still came and it gave our volunteers a chance to rest before the clean-up started.

“The festival has really raised the bar for next time. Two years ago we were a much smaller-scale event but I think we’ve reached a new level of professionalism and the next one will be even better.”

Patricia Williams, the festival’s artistic director, said: “The events were so good, the venues many and the marquee amazing.

“However, it’s also about so much more — the volunteers who loved working with each other, the new friendships made, young people engaged, the masses of people on the night of The Lightyears, the schools’ involvement, the results of workshops on display and the Big Breakfast, my particular favourite.

“All in all, so much fun was had by many.”

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