‘Fantastic’ response to appeal will mean the blues will keep coming to Dereham

Doreen Aitken and Stewart Aitken. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Doreen Aitken and Stewart Aitken. Picture: Matthew Usher.

They put out a call for help, and you reponded.

And it means that the Dereham Blues Festival will be back next year and has the potential be bigger and better than ever.

Following this year's hugely successful festival organisers Doreen and Stewart Aitken realised that it had become too big for just the two of them with more than 2000 music fans from across the country descending on the town for four days and nights of blues music in 12 venues.

After the Times issued an appeal on their behalf for more volunteers the couple, who founded the Norfolk Blues Society, were thrilled with the response and said they now have a 'fantastic' team ready and raring to go.

It also means the festival is now able to step away from the Norfolk Blues Society and has become its own not-for-profit organisation with a growing team of volunteers ready to help Doreen and Stewart put together the increasingly popular and major event.

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'It just became too much for two people to organise', said Mrs Aitken. 'We knew we needed help if we wanted to see another festival next year so we put a call out for volunteers and we had a great response - although we can always use a few more helpers!

'It's great to see the festival taking on a life of its own, and although the Norfolk Blues Society (NBS) are no longer officially involved, the society will be a major sponsor.

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'By having a dedicated, stand-alone event committee it means we can now look into getting more of the community involved in the festival. We've already got some great ideas for next year that we would like to see happen.'

This year, its third, saw the award-winning Mud Morganfield launch the festival to a sell-out crowd at the Dereham Memorial Hall and, to kick off the weekend's stock of the best blues bands from around the country the 32-strong festival community choir performed throughout the town centre.

Another leading headline act is currently being negotiated for next year's launch concert, and the organisers would like to get local businesses, schools and colleges involved with the possibility of 'Battle of the Blues Bands' event in the lead up to the festival.

Coming off the back of the festival, the community choir has now become a regular all year round choir called The Heartlands Delta Singers.

Led by Lauren Dove from the star Norfolk-based band, Dove and Boweevil, the choir is starting fortnightly gospel blues singing sessions and are all set to perform at next year's festival.

Their first session will be on Tuesday, September 29 at 19:40 at the Toftwood Scout Hall.

For more information visit www.derehambluesfestival.org.uk.

If you would like to volunteer for the festival please email: derehambluesfestival@gmail.com.

* What did you enjoy about this year's Dereham Blues Festival? Email kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk.

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