EVESHAM LADS BATTLE FOR FESTIVAL SPOTLIGHT
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.”
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.
ANOTHER FIRST FOR ANT'S TRAIL-BLAZING LADY LOCK KEEPER
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.”
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.