Week-long music and arts festival starts today

FORMER Eurovision Song Contest winner Dana is the star of this year’s West Buckland Festival, which starts today (Thursday).

Dana, whose most famous songs include All Kinds of Everything, Please Tell Him that I said Hello, and Morning Has Broken, will perform on Sunday in St Peter’s Church.

Her concert will be the last event of a packed weekend of entertainment and workshops organised for this year’s festival, being held in aid of the £2.2 million North Devon Chemotherapy Appeal.

Paul Ellis, festival chairman, said: “It is a great pleasure and very exciting that Dana, one of the youngest Eurovision Song Contest winners, will be the star attraction in this year’s festival.

“Our policy has always been to have a programme that includes talented artists from North Devon and national and international top class performers on the same stage together.

“We have done that again this year with Archie Smithson from Torrington Community School, Ellie Hubble and Scott Burgess from West Buckland School and a chorus of some 15 young people who will sing with Dana.”

Dana told the Gazette: “I am delighted to be returning to the beautiful Devon countryside for this special concert in support of two such worthwhile charities.

“These are especially dear to me as I am a regular church member and I have close friends who have recently benefited from cancer support.

“I am looking forward to bringing some good music and laughter to this special evening.”

The concert is being sponsored by the family business run by Herbert and Rob Malek and Paul Gyurgyak at Roundswell BP/SPAR Services.

Other headliners of this year’s festival, which runs from September 8-11, are Harry the Piano – hugely acclaimed for his style and amazing virtuosity – and Devon/Russian premier concert pianist Veronika Shoot of the Royal Academy of Music in London, who will give a classical recital.

They are part of an eclectic mix of events, mostly centred around the parish church, including three evening shows on successive nights, all with international stars.

Music, song, comedy and mind reading are all on the agenda, plus exhibitions by artists and crafts people, a flower and vegetable festival, coffee morning, antique valuations, a patchwork workshop, exploring hedgerows, harvest festival service and a festival village walk.

A silent auction will offer lots which people just cannot otherwise buy – a week for four people in a cottage in the Welsh village of Dylan Thomas; a conducted tour of Castle Hill for six, led by Lady Arran; a tour for two of Appledore lifeboat station and lifeboat; a half-day with executive chef Richard Hunt at the Grand Hotel in Torquay; a black tie champagne dinner for four; and a visit to the production rooms of the Points West programme at BBC Bristol.

For more details about all the events in this year’s programme, visit the website www.westbucklandfestival.co.uk or for tickets contact Sue Sunderland on (01598) 760426.