Call to safeguard future of Dereham Blues Festival

Jamie Roe Band performing at Strikes in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Jamie Roe Band performing at Strikes in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

An urgent call has been made for people in Dereham to help ensure one of the town's most important and popular events has a future.

Dereham Blues Festival brings crowds from all over the country to the mid Norfolk market town and is worth thousands of pounds a year to the local economy.

But festival organisers, husband and wife Doreen and Stewart Aitken, say new volunteers are desperately needed as the event has grown beyond all expectations in its three-year existence. A public meeting will be held at The King's Head in Dereham on Wednesday at 7.30pm to discuss the festival's future.

Mrs Aitken said: 'The blues festival is becoming more and more important to Dereham.

'Businesses in the town have told me what a big impact it has on them.


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'The problem is that the whole thing relies on just two people.

'If we became ill it simply wouldn't go ahead.

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'We need to get the festival on a firmer footing.'

Mrs Aitken wants to establish a charitable trust, so the festival can attract more funding, and for a board of trustees to take on the running of the festival.

She also wants the Blues Festival Choir to be formed as a group which performs regularly.

The Dereham Blues Festival was held for the third time last month and saw 12 venues in the town hosting live concerts over four days.

Mrs Aitken said: 'We had another great festival this year and I believe, with a bit of support, the Dereham Blues Festival can have a really bright future.

'We had a band down here from Glasgow who said bands up there were asking about how they can get on the bill.

'We think of it here as a local event but it has a national reputation and has quickly become thought of in the same regard as some of the more well-established blues festivals.'

She added: 'Volunteering is a really fun thing to do and people have the chance to work with some really friendly and enthusiastic people.'

Wednesday's meeting is open to all.

Amongst other things, Mrs Aitken is looking for legal advice with regards to setting up a charitable trust.

Anyone who wants more information or feels they can offer support to the festival can contact Mrs Aitken on 01362 860491 or e mail norfolkbluessociety@gmail.com.

What do you think of the Dereham Blues Festival? E mail adam.lazzari@archant.co.uk

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