Sunday, 21 July 2019

Retiring Prime Minister finds time to support festival

Retiring Prime Minister finds time to support festival

WARGRAVE Festival chairman and amateur actor Graham Howe knows the value of a celebrity endorsement when it comes to attracting the punters.

So he was quick off the mark when he spotted Theresa May at the recent Wargrave Girls’ FC awards ceremony and thrust a festival flyer into her hand to pose for a picture.

The Maidenhead MP and retiring Prime Minister was only too happy to oblige.

Mr Howe said: “The festival had a little table at the football event and I said I wouldn’t let her leave without doing a bit of advertising for us. It helped that I have known her for 17 years.

He is also a Wokingham borough councillor and first got to know Mrs May when she was shadow education secretary. He said: “She has always been very supportive of Wargrave and comes at least once a year to visit our schools.”

Mr Howe will also be entering into the spirit of the festival by playing no fewer than four parts in a production of Shakespeare’s comedy As You like it, which runs until tomorrow (Saturday). He said: “I will be playing a servant, a lord, a sheep and Sir Oliver Martext, a lewd and drunken country vicar.”

The play is expected to attract audiences of 260 each night and is just one of the highlights of this year’s festival.

The theme is “That’s Magic” in tribute to the late Paul Daniels, who lived in the village and supported the festival, and his widow Debbie McGee, who is still a resident. Debbie herself will be taking part, presenting A Magic Life With Paul Daniels on Wednesday, an evening of anecdotes about the mishaps and misadventures as the couple entertained audiences all over the world.

Keeping to the theme will be The Magic of the Auction on Tuesday with TV antiques expert Thomas Plant and a Circle of Magic afternoon tea on the same day when Wargrave’s senior citizens are invited to Hennerton Golf Club for sandwiches and homemade cakes plus some magic tricks.

Local dancers will gather at the festival marquee on Mill Green on Saturday, June 22 to take part in Dancing Under a Spell, the festival’s version of Strictly Come Dancing.

The competition is open to couples, solos and groups in all types of dancing and there will be demonstrations and a chance to take part in an audience participation dance.

The first Wargrave Festival took place in June 1975, the brainchild of vicar John Ratings, and has been held on alternate years ever since. It now involves all 20 of the village societies in staging 47 events.

Tickets are still available for As You Like It and A Magic Life with Paul Daniels, Wargrave Words, with three local authors in conversation (June 20), Dancing Under A Spell (June 22) and Champagne Tasting with Pascal Henry (June 25).

Free events include Family Food and Fun on Mill Green (June 22) and a parade from the top of Victoria Road to the fete on Mill Green followed by a variety show in the evening (June 29).

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