THE organiser of Henley’s Music on the Meadows festival has warned it could fold without more volunteers to help run it.
More than 3,000 people attended the third annual event on July 16, when dozens of the town’s young musicians performed on the bandstand at Mill Meadows.
But organiser Maggie Atkinson, who launched the festival in 2013, says many of the original helpers are now at university or have other commitments and she cannot run it alone.
The free event is a tribute to late Beatle George Harrison, who lived at Friar Park in Henley until his death in 2001, and has the blessing of his widow Olivia, who still lives at the mansion.
Proceeds go to the Listening Roomz, a youth drop-in centre above Magoo’s bar in Hart Street, which is run in partnership with the town’s Riverside Counselling service. Mrs Atkinson, who lives in Queen Street with her husband Ed, said: “I love doing it because it’s amazing and worthwhile but I need a lot more help.
“Many people have moved away or can’t be involved to the same extent and we need some new blood.
“I can’t say how many helpers are needed because it all depends on how much time people can commit.
“I would love to find someone who can take over and carry on the work I’ve done.
“We don’t need people with a musical background — I certainly don’t have one. You just need a passion for young people and to care about encouraging them.
“It’s an incredibly creative and therapeutic way for them to find their feet in live performing and to feel like they’re part of something bigger. It also teaches them some vital life skills like resilience and building relationships.
“It would be wonderful to get a team together so we can ensure the acoustic nights and the festival still happen. I know there are lots of calls on people’s time but it would only be a couple of hours per month.”
Henley town councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, who has supported the festival since it began when he was Mayor, said: “Maggie and I are enormously proud of Music on the Meadows as it’s the only free event in Henley.
“It showcases young musicians in a fantastically professional environment and is a brilliant experience for both the performers and those who watch them.
“However, only a few of us shoulder the burden of running it and we need more people to share the load.
“It would be an enormous shame if it couldn’t go on as we’ve had three hugely successful festivals with hundreds of famililes attending.
“Anyone who gets involved will enjoy a great sense of achievement.”
Music on the Meadows took place in 2013 and 2014 but did not happen last year. Instead, organisers helped to launch acoustic gig nights for young people at Magoo’s.
As well as playing in front of their friends, the teenagers can watch performances by professional musicians in a range of genres and ask them questions about a music career.
The acoustic nights take place from 7pm to 9pm on the last Wednesday of each month and will begin again in September.
Anyone who would like to volunteer should email Mrs Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org