An award-winning county music festival which switched to an online format because of social distancing measures has been hailed a huge success after it raised more than £13,000 for a Worcestershire-based hospice.
Woo Fest, which was streamed live to homes and gardens around Worcestershire and beyond on Saturday (4th July), featured a mix of live and pre-recorded sets from big-name performers including Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Grant Nicholas, from Feeder, and Toyah Willcox as well as local acts.
Hosted by Richard ‘Hursty’ Hurst and BBC Hereford & Worcester’s Nina Das Gupta, the free-to-view festival has raised £13,245.57 so far with music-lovers donating as they watched.
Luke Simons, festival organiser, said: “We’ve been blown away by everyone’s response to a virtual festival here in Worcestershire. We had 92 individual musicians in 24 sets – across a range of genres – keen to give our wonderful county a brilliant day and support the care St Richard’s provides locally at the same time.
“And the production on the day was absolutely incredible; all thanks to our friends at creative communication agency DRPG, who streamed the event live from their local studios.”
The family-friendly festival, which donates every penny to St Richard’s Hospice in Worcester, was set up in 2015 by Luke Simons and his sister, Ria, in memory of their Dad, John. Since its inception, Woo Fest has now raised more than £70,000 for St Richard’s, which cares for patients and their loved ones facing serious progressive illnesses.
“Woo Fest began as a result of Dad’s amazing care at the hospice and his, and our, love of music. It started off as an idea for a small gathering, so to think we had all these acts performing on Saturday – and some big names too – is incredible!
“Selfies and messages were flying in from homes and gardens across Worcestershire – and we had people watching across Europe, America, Africa and Australia – so it was fantastic to see everyone having a great time while digging deep for this amazing local charity too.
“We would also like to thank all the talented musicians that supported us with the event with either pre-records or live on the day – their support was magnificent.”
Tricia Cavell, Fundraising Director for St Richard’s Hospice, said: “With our mass participation fundraising events cancelled this summer, it’s a tricky time for charities like us and we need to think of innovative ways to fund our care. You can’t get much more innovative than running a music festival for supporters in their own homes!
“Of course, an event of this scale was only possible with Woo Fest, the brilliant DRPG production team and hosts Hursty and Nina Das Gupta all working their magic. And what magic – helping raise more than £13,000 for our care!
“We must also thank all the incredible performers, who gave us their time for free, and our amazingly supportive Worcestershire community for getting behind the event, setting up their home festivals and giving so generously. And if you missed Saturday and would love to ‘watch again’, you can do so at https://virtualwoofest.drpg.events.”
Anyone who didn’t get chance to donate to Virtual Woo Fest, and support St Richard’s work locally, or who would like to donate again, can give online at http://strichards.org.uk/virtualwoo or can text CARE to 70140 to donate £10.
Woo Fest was kindly sponsored by Blackpole Recycling, Diamond Windows, Smith’s News, Lowes Garage and The Butcheress.
Woo Fest was named Best Small Festival at the UK Festival Awards in London in 2019.
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