Drunken Monkey Rock Festival 2018: Evesham schoolboys rock on

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A TALENTED band of Evesham schoolboys is getting set for its biggest gig yet and it could rock their young lives. 

The 14 and 15 year-olds who make up Ranstone will be playing their heavy metal hearts out to win a coveted place in the mega August 3-5 Drunken Monkey Rock Festival in Upton-upon-Severn.

Success will line the lads up with more than 50 crowd-pulling greats at the Festival, which raises funds for the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity (MAAC) in memory of Ian Dowton and is growing ever year.

The record-breaking 2017 event attracted twice as many people and raised four times as much as the year before.

Tickets are already selling fast for this year’s Festival, with a line-up including Wizards of Oz, Pearl Jamm, Van Hailen and Gage, hot footing it from South Africa. Check out www.drunkenmonkeyrockfest.co.uk for the full line-up and tickets.

The volunteer team of organisers had to turn away scores of would-be performers and the performance slots are already filling up for next year.

But Stu Evans, who runs the main stage, and Chris Harvey, who heads the Tower stage, kept three places free for the winners of their first Battle of the Bands, at Evesham’s The Valkyrie Bar, starting at 7pm on May 11.

Ranstone will be pitched against Voodoo Stone, Hate.System and Vintage Inc in a fierce competition that will be judged by audience reaction plus the verdicts of Stu, Chris and Bar owner, and Festival fan, Steve Richford, who says: “It will be a great night that will also raise money for MAAC.”

Ranstone was put forward by Chris, who runs Tower Studios in Pinvin, which is backing the Battle of the Bands and where he tutors drummer Zack Morris. “They’re a good, tight little band who deserve a wider audience,” he says.

“Chris is a great motivator and we’re very proud of them. Whatever happens on May 11, it will be a great showcase for them,” says John Morris, the tree surgeon dad of Zack, aged 14 and a PHHS student.

“We have been practising really hard for this and I'm ready to tear up that drum kit,” adds Zack.

“If they win, it will be their first festival and potentially a game-changer,” adds Nick Hutton, financial services expert and dad of singer Jack, 15, a pupil at De Montfort High School whose teachers, he says, have been brilliant at encouraging his son.

“We wish all the bands well,” says Festival Music Director Stu. 

“Let battle commence.”  

People power fuels ANT wildlife haven drive

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IT’S full steam ahead for Avon Navigation Trust’s plans for a wildlife sanctuary on a rescued river island, which will be fuelled by people power after the charity missed out on a community grant.
The historic Pershore Lock Island will now also provide a lasting tribute to humans, thanks to the Trust’s (ANT) merry band of multi-skilled volunteers.
Supporter Chris Knight has launched a Name a Tree project to give everyone the chance to commemorate a loved one in the special place.
The RHS-qualified gardener, who also asked for trees and compost instead of 70th birthday gifts, has already planted hundreds of bulbs and shrubs on the mid-river oasis, which it’s hoped will become a magnet for visitors as well as wildlife.
“We have a great opportunity to turn what is now a blank canvas into something beautiful and rewarding,” says the volunteer assistant Reachmaster at Pershore Lock, which has been a busy river conduit since 1639.
“It was shame that we weren’t successful in the Aviva Community Fund but it helped to raise the profile of our project, which has now taken on a life of its own,” adds ANT Chief Executive Clive Matthews, whose team is now casting about for new grant funding. 
“The commemorative trees are a brilliant idea. Our volunteers are truly a force to be reckoned with.”
The Trust also plans to build a hide and make the 3230 square metre island accessible to the public with the support of Pershore’s The Angel Hotel, which teamed up with ANT last year to provide a mooring and landing stage overlooking the site.
“We have formed a strong partnership with ANT and we are delighted at the prospect of the new project,” says Angel owner and Chief Executive Darren Eden.
“At a time when British wildlife is struggling, it is fantastic that ANT is taking this initiative, which will help make Pershore and our river an even more attractive destination for boaters and other visitors.”
Talented volunteers cover more than 65% of the work on the river, freeing up the small ANT work team to tackle big engineering jobs, including the two natural disasters that prompted the wildlife haven project.
Its task force moved in swiftly to save the flood-damaged island in 2015 and was back last year when the island had to be cleared to become an emergency worksite after a winter tree fall rerouted the weir stream and blocked the navigation.
“Two near calamities left us with the opportunity to do something really worthwhile on a historic site, and what Chris has started is wonderful,” adds Pershore Reachmaster Michael Hodges.
For Chris, it’s simply a way to give back to the river on which he learnt to sail when he was 11. He’s since sailed round some of the world’s most exotic oceans, but the Avon has always been special.
“It’s a beautiful river and volunteering on it is a joy, because everyone’s happy to be here,” adds Chris, who now lives In Alcester and keeps his 30” boat Crystal at Wyre Piddle.
He’s one of 80 volunteers who tend the Avon’s locks, overnight moorings and get even more hands-on in Volunteer & Recruitment Director Nick Farr’s Patrol Officer and Mobile Volunteer teams.
“A few years ago, we were thrilled to get into double figures but numbers are continuing to rise as people find out what fun it can be,” says ANT Volunteer Chairman Paul Cronin, himself a supporter for 20 years.
“We always need more and welcome everyone, boaters or not, to assist however they wish, whether that’s helping visitors through a lock or getting down and dirty on maintenance work.”
To find out more, please contact Paul at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  and to discover how to dedicate a tree (at £35, for a tree, stake, compost and dedication label), please email ANT at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Wildlife haven
 What a treemendous idea. Name a Tree project planter Chris Knight (right) with Volunteer Chairman Paul Cronin and the commemorative tree to be planted in memory of his mother Olwyn Cronin and parents-in-law Derrick and Celia Madgwick. Photo: Sue MacPhee. 
Island view 
A view of the island when it was cleared as an emergency worksite.

X marks the spot for ANT Worcestershire wildlife haven

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Visitor-friendly wildlife haven will be created on historic Avon island, if public gets behind the scheme AND casts votes

The Avon Navigation Trust (ANT) hopes to provide a sanctuary for birds, bats, mammals and ferried-in wildlife lovers on the currently publicly inaccessible Pershore lock island that it dramatically rescued from disaster in the winter of 2015.

The project, which will be the pilot for other ANT nature-friendly schemes, has been nominated for funding in the Aviva Community Fund, which will be decided  this month by public vote at https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/17-4029.

ANT moved super swiftly to stop the successive-flood damaged island from collapse, and its engineering team was back this year to restore the fallen tree-choked weir stream.

“The lock site has been in use since 1639 and its adjacent weir, with the separate fish pathway, are critically important, not just in maintaining river levels for both users and wildlife, but also as a key part of the area’s anti-flood control measures. However, the island is a valuable wildlife resource too,” says Penny Clover, ANT’s Funding and Appeals Director.

“Now we aim to transform this currently bare patch of earth with our volunteers and have some very exciting plans in store.” 

ANT has been nominated by Worcester-based Sutcliffe & Co Insurance brokers for the Aviva Community Fund. 

“By creating an accessible and informative haven, the Pershore Weir Island Wildlife Project will give a reason for the local community and visitors to discover and explore our hidden riverside environment,” adds Duncan Sutcliffe, Director of Sutcliffe & Co.

The funding will pay for the materials, while ANT will supply its team to support volunteers to carry out the planting and construction work on the 3230 square metre island.

They aim to:   
• Create a wildflower meadow and wildlife- friendly garden, attracting pollinators, insects, mammals, bats and birds.
• Build a shelter and hide so that visitors can spot those more secretive river inhabitants.
• Establish a pond and wetland area.
• Plant local Pershore heritage plum trees.
• Build a ‘paddlers path’ for canoe portage around the lock.
• Install information boards about the navigation and animal life.
• Team up with The Angel Hotel at Pershore to run bespoke boat trips for groups and then establish more regular cruises as the project develops.

“This project will also be a valuable pilot scheme for other wildlife areas planned by ANT, as the river authority and responsible with volunteers for the long term maintenance of similar lock sites along the whole River Avon,” adds Penny.



Tewkesbury Lock makeover holds key to an ANT new tradition

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AVON Navigation Trust’s trailblazing lady lock keeper enjoyed another first when the charity’s engineering team beat the floods to complete its biggest project in years bang on time.

The Wyre Piddle-based Trust (ANT) celebrated the end of the major infrastructure project by launching a new tradition in the form of a ceremonial lock key painted in its blue and yellow colours.

The handover of the key to Tewkesbury’s Avon Lock lady Nic Lancaster signalled it was now back in her keeping after the mammoth three month makeover at the major Avon gateway.

Now each lock will have its own dedicated key and post work handover ceremony when appropriate.

“It’s good to start a new ANT tradition and this was a very apt project to kick it off because there was a lot to celebrate,” says Chief Executive Clive Matthews.

“The team pulled off a minor miracle by making sure the lock reopening was right on schedule despite the site being wiped out by a pre Christmas flood, which set other non ANT river projects months adrift.” 

Clive and his team had already leapt to river users’ rescue twice, first when they swiftly switched the failing hydraulic paddle to manual to avoid having to close the busiest lock on the river in high season.

Then planned emergency repairs in early 2016 were thwarted by a series of floods. But the team repaired the hydraulics for the season ready for the major repairs after the lock dewatering, which is usually only done once every 25 years. 

Work included replacing all the paddles, the full refurbishment of all hydraulics, repairing the lock chamber, repairing and sprucing up all the concrete walkways plus refurbishing and painting all the gates.

Nic, who became ANT’s first full time lady lock keeper in 2015, knew exactly how hard the team worked to hand it back in shipshape form for the first boaters’ through, because she had a bird’s eye view.

The Tewkesbury-born lady, who came home after getting a degree in Coastal Zone Management, lives with stained glass artist husband Pete in the lock keeper’s cottage on site.

“The ANT people are the best and all the people who come through here are lovely and happy because they’re on their boats,” beams Nic.

“I’ve landed the job from heaven and I laugh and smile my way through the day.”

ANT- Key handover

Avon Lock keeper Nic Lancaster receives the ceremonial key, now hanging proudly in her hut, from ANT Chief Executive Clive Matthews, watched by the engineering team.

Evesham's Areca Design Appy to help Drunken Monkey's cause

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A MIDLANDS rock festival, which will celebrate a heavy metal icon’s mega comeback, is planning to make sure fans are even Appier.

The creative and rock-loving team at Areca Design is gifting a Drunken Monkey Augmented Reality (AR) Mobile App to bring publicity material to life for the festival, which raises money for the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity.

“The charity is a wonderful, life-saving service that deserves all the support we can give it,” says Mick Hurst, Managing Director of Areca Design, which is based in Evesham, Worcestershire.

“It’s a charity that’s particularly close to my heart, as an avid motorbike man. 

“We’re also pleased to support such a popular festival. We’re all music loving rockers here at Areca.”

The August 4-6 Drunken Monkey Rock Festival was launched four years ago in Worcestershire’s Upton-upon-Severn in memory of local man Ian Dowton, who died after a car accident. 

So far it has raised more than £11,000 for the life-saving Midlands Air Ambulance Charity and this summer’s three day event will be bigger and better than ever.

“We’re really excited about this year’s Festival. There will be some awesome performances and we are more than looking forward to rock legends Steve Grimmett’s comeback,” says Steve Coyne, Chairman of the festival committee of volunteers.

Cult band Grim Reaper’s frontman Steve will get a resounding reception when he bursts on to the main stage in one of his first performances since losing part of his leg on a life-changing South American tour earlier this year.

Singer Steve, who lives in Swindon with wife Millie, is currently learning to walk on his new prosthetic leg.

He had five operations and three amputations in an Ecuador hospital after picking up an infection during the Walking in the Shadows album tour earlier this year.

Steve has been stunned by fans’ support and fund-raising to help cover the $25k Ecuador hospital bill and ongoing recuperation.

“It has been phenomenal and very humbling,” says Steve. 

“I will reward everyone by getting back on stage... and walking round like I had two legs!”

Areca Design put its home town of Evesham on the world map in 2012 with a trail-blazing Historic Tourist Trail App.

The town became the first to offer tourists a unique experience with the App that brings to life mediaeval monk Brother Oswald on smartphones and tablets.

The team offers end-to-end digital and traditional marketing solutions, including those headline grabbing apps, which they have developed for a wide range of customers over the last five years.

The free to download Drunken Monkey App will trigger poster videos of Grim Reaper, Guns2Roses and hot-tipped Worcestershire up and coming band Population:7.