The Day Was Saved

Community spirit Saves the Day in Looe

LOOE HAS DONE IT ! Residents and businesses from a small Cornish fishing port came together to Save the Day by organising a three day community festival for thousands of music lovers – in just 19 incredible days.

When the official Looe Music Festival was cancelled less than three weeks before it was due to take place, many local communities would have just shrugged, expressed disappointment at the news, and possibly grumbled a bit. Not Looe.

A small group of local people decided to try and do something positive and the Looe Saves The Day festival was born.

Local Cornwall Councillor Edwina Hannaford, who had been involved in setting up the first Looe community music festival seven years ago, put out a call for help on social media and was immediately inundated with offers of support.

Working with the Mayor of Looe and fellow Cornwall Councillor Armand Toms, the duo recruited a small team to help draw up plans for staging an alternative community led event – going back to the roots of the original festival.

“We recognised that the festival was very important to our local economy, generating around £18m over the past seven years “ said Edwina Hannaford. “Everyone was disappointed by the unexpected cancellation at such short notice and so we decided to see if we could put on an event to replace it.

 “Normally organising an event on this scale would take many months of preparation – we had just three weeks – but we were determined to give it a go if the local community were behind the idea. “

 Following a packed public meeting where virtually the whole town turned out to offer support, the group set about turning their vision into reality. With the help of the Perfect Events Group (PEG) team led by MD Samantha Groom and event safety manager Mike Ward, the LSTD group pulled together an event management plan and 20 individual appendices covering everything from crowd and traffic management, health and safety to providing public toilets.

Looe Town Council agreed to take on the role of official event organiser, with Mayor Armand Toms, Edwina Hannaford and Looe Town Council clerk Anne Frith becoming the three Festival Directors.

With the help of a small army of volunteers, the group launched a campaign to raise the funds needed to stage the festival. With donations ranging from a few pounds to a significant donation from an individual anonymous benefactor, and a successful crowd funder appeal, they reached their original £30,000 target within 48 hours of the appeal. As the costs of meeting the safety requirements rose, so the fund raising target increased – and still people kept donating. The final amount raised is still being calculated but the organisers are confident that they will meet their costs.

With funding in place, the stage built, hundreds of acts booked – both for the main stage and the 28 bars, cafes and restaurants throughout the town, the town was ready for the start of the community inspired and community organised Looe Saves the Day festival.

Despite the weather leading to the postponement of some of the acts on the first warm up evening, the first full day of the official festival on Friday, 21 September was a triumph – with thousands of people enjoying the music and other Looe attractions in the sunshine.

One act which caught the attention of festival goers was 17 year old local singer Charlie Harris who had been busking around the town to raise money for the festival. She did such an amazing job the LSTD organisers gave her a slot on the main stage on the final evening as a thank you for her hard work.

Other highlights included the Mamma Mia dance-a-long on the beach organised by Sheila’s School of Dancing to raise funds for the Stand Up for Cancer campaign for Cancer Research and the acoustic set performed by Uncle Frank in Ecotricity on Friday night when Sunday night headline act P.P Arnold joined in.

Despite some further weather issues on Saturday afternoon, which caused a small number of acts to be cancelled, everything went according to plan, with enthusiastic festival goers enjoying an incredible range of music over the three days.

While the acts have been awesome, this has always been about more than just the music “ said Armand. “This is about a community coming together to turn a potential disaster into a success for the whole town. I am incredibly proud of everyone who has worked so hard over the past few weeks.

 One of the key linchpins of the festival has been the work of the 250 volunteers. Organised by Looe Town Councillor Viv Sullivan, the teams have done everything from marshalling the traffic and supporting Coast 2 Coast security in managing the 3,000 people in the main arena, to giving out programmes, litter picking to keep the streets clean and making thousands of bacon and sausage baps and cups of tea.

They have all done an outstanding job “ said Viv Sullivan. “But it is not just about the individuals – we have also had incredible support from local businesses which donated food and drink – including a special chocolate cake – for the volunteers. I would like to give special thanks to the South Coast Bakery, The Cornish Bakery, Harbour Café, Sara’s Pasty Shop, St Martin’s Bakery, Looe Bakery, The Co-op, and The Cornish Tea Company “.

So what do the festival goers think about the Looe Saves the Day festival and the group which organised it .

“Fabulous thank you guys – love this place and really appreciate the effort made by all concerned “ said one enthusiastic festival goer, while another added “ I really hope the same team organise an event for next year. Everyone should be so proud. Let’s keep this going. Looe is the best place to be come rain or shine! Throw lots of excellent music in and you just can’t beat it!

Other comments include “ It’s been absolutely amazing so far really great fun – thank you all for such a super festival “ and “ From the people we’ve spoken to we all prefer this festival than previous ones! It’s been all about the local bands and town which is how it should be. Brilliant weekend. Thank you.”

Reading the positive comments from festival goers and local residents after the final performance by headliner P.P. Arnold late on Sunday evening , the exhausted but very happy LTSTD group could hardly believe their own achievements.

“If you had told me three weeks ago I would be part of a team organising a three day music festival, I would have just laughed” said Edwina Hannaford. “But we have done it – this small Cornish fishing port has pulled off an amazing achievement and has given thousands of people an unforgettable experience.

 So what of the future?. Mayor Armand Toms says they need a few days to reflect over what has been achieved over the past three weeks and will then ask the town to decide what they want to see in the future.

Until then the town can be forgiven for just enjoying their moment – after all LOOE HAS SAVED THE DAY.