FolkEast Festival Supporting The Big Walk in aid of Help Musicians
The host of the multi-award-winning Folk on Foot podcast, Matthew Bannister, is to set off on a 180-mile sponsored walk this summer to raise money for the charity Help Musicians.
The former controller of BBC Radio 1 and presenter of Radio 4’s weekly Last Word programme will start his trek at the Wickham Festival in Hampshire on Friday, August 4 and finish two weeks later at the FolkEast Festival in Suffolk which runs from August 18-20.
Matthew, who launched Folk on Foot in 2018, has invited myriad folk musicians to join him at pubs where he is staying along the trail each evening for informal, morale-boosting gatherings of songs and tunes. Confirmed artists include some of the finest names in folk – The Young’uns, Martin Simpson, Bella Hardy, and Show of Hands’ Steve Knightley joining forces with Johnny Kalsi (Afro Celts, The Dhol Foundation).
There will be a rich mix of duos,fromPeter Knight & John Spiers to Megson, Honey and the Bear, Janice Burns & Jon Doran, Rowan Piggott and Rosie Hodgson of The Wilderness Yet and Sid Goldsmith and Danny Pedler of Tarren.
Others joining Matthew will be flautist Eliza Marshall (Ranagri/Freedom to Roam) and traditional folk musician Jon Wilks, singer-songwriters Kirsty Merryn and Katie Spencer and Brighton band , Bird in the Belly
The route will take him from the rolling countryside of Hampshire’s Meon Valley to a finish line in the grounds of Suffolk’s glorious Glemham Hall where the FolkEast festival is staged, traversing Berkshire, Greater London, Hertfordshire and Essex en route.
He will pass novelist’s Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, Hampshire, traverse Colne Valley Park on the western flank of London, stay in picturesque Eton with its famous college, follow the tree-lined Long Walk at Windsor, cross the great Roman road of Watling Street and walk along stretches of the Grand Union Canal – the principal navigable waterway between London and the Midlands.
Matthew’s final overnight stop at Campsea Ashe, Suffolk, will see him welcomed and entertained by the multi-award-winning patrons of FolkEast, The Young’uns (left).
The next day (Friday, August 18) Matthew is due to arrive at FolkEast where he will be danced over the finishing line by members of Gloucestershire’s Boss Morris. Describing themselves as ‘all-female prog Morris side’ they famously performed alongside indie rock group Wet Leg at this year’s Brit Awards.
Members of the public are invited to join Matthew along the way, leaving their footprint for just a mile or two or a whole day.
Matthew said: “During the pandemic lockdowns Folk on Foot listeners raised an amazing £327,000 to support musicians who had lost their livelihoods. Half was divided between the scores of artists who took part in our four online Front Room Festivals and the other half went to Help Musicians.
“The lockdowns may be a distant memory, but the problems faced by musicians haven’t gone away. Many are dealing with mental or physical health issues or financial hardship and Help Musicians and its sister charity Music Minds Matter do a brilliant job of supporting them to build secure careers in what can be a very challenging and precarious industry. That’s why I’ve decided to tramp 180 miles across the South East of England to raise money and awareness. Music and musicians have been vital throughout my life, raising my spirits when I was down, helping me to celebrate important moments and bringing me joy every single day. This walk is a small way of saying thank you.”
Sarah Woods, Interim Chief Executive at Help Musicians welcomed news of Matthew’s quest. She said: “Folk on Foot, and folk music lovers across the U.K, have been true friends to Help Musicians, with significant funds raised to help musicians survive during the pandemic; making a positive difference to their lives and careers.
Music brings so much joy to us all, but sadly those who work in music suffer more than others from poor mental health. Music Minds Matter has seen a 200% increase in calls to its helpline during the last two years, showing how much still needs to be done to achieve positive wellbeing for all those who work in music. Demand for help continues to rise, and as a charity that relies on the generosity of donors to support its work, all funds raised from “The Big Walk” will go directly to funding support and services to support the mental health of those in real need. A massive thank you to Matthew for this inspirational fundraising initiative.”
Matthew aims to take to the stage on the opening Thursday night of Wickham Festival at the end of Show of Hands’ headline set to tell the audience about the walk starting from the site the following morning. Wickham Festival organiser Peter Chegwyn said: “We are honoured that Matthew has chosen to start his Big Walk at Wickham. It’s a great thing to do and a fantastic cause and I hope it raises a lot of money and awareness.
“We have a brilliant crowd at Wickham and I am sure they will turn out in their numbers to give Matthew a good send-off.
“It’s just as well Matthew is not starting his walk here on Saturday night – otherwise our headliners, The Proclaimers, would have him walking 500 miles – and 500 more! We wish him all the best for this venture and hope to see him at Wickham next year for a more relaxing weekend!”
Becky Marshall-Potter, co-director of FolkEast, said the three-day festival was delighted to be part of Matthew’s epic walk and looked forward to cheering him over the finish line.
“Musicians, technical crew, promoters, venues and festivals are working together to build back an industry that was floored by the pandemic and is now facing the effects of the cost of living crisis. By supporting our musicians, we support the whole of this internationally respected industry and those who work within it. So, polish up your walking boots and walk on.”
The former controller of BBC Radio 1 and presenter of Radio 4’s weekly Last Word programme will start his trek at the Wickham Festival in Hampshire on Friday, August 4 and finish two weeks later at the FolkEast Festival in Suffolk which runs from August 18-20. Matthew, who launched Folk on Foot in 2018, has invited myriad folk musicians to join him at pubs where he is staying along the trail each evening for informal, morale-boosting gatherings of songs and […]
“In a world where there are hundreds of festivals, FolkEast prospers by doing something unique and doing it brilliantly” – RnR Magazine “This weekend has become one of the folk scene’s most highly rated destinations” – i newspaper “I loved FolkEast. Relaxed, friendly, in a great location with masses of space and a really strong line-up. A great weekend that really lifted the soul.” Robin Denselow, Guardian journalist/broadcaster To see the full lineup, head to our FolkEast lineup 2023 page. […]