Drumming up favours helps Matt Fest go local to global

Dad  David Cryer. 'Image � Paul David Drabble'www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk

Dad David Cryer. 'Image � Paul David Drabble'www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk

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It started out as a single band playing in a Frecheville pub.

Now, five years on, a music event in memory of Sheffield teenager Matthew Cryer, who was killed on his first holiday abroad alone at the age of 17, has grown into a global event.

Over a weekend in July there will be events around the world – including everything from bouncy castles to house music, and everywhere from as far as Australia to Eggborough in North Yorkshire.

Thousands of people are expected to attend Matt Fest and it is hoped that up to £250,000 could be raised from the £2 entry fee.

There are still some surprises to come, with talks ongoing with various bands, venues and well-known stars.

But how has such a low-key fundraiser exploded to be now held on an international stage?

Matt’s dad David Cryer, and pal Tony Cronshaw, say it is all down to simply ‘asking favours’ of friends and family.

“This time it is people who never met Matt putting on events,” said Tony, who is helping to organise the festivals.

“They are doing it in their own time, at their own expense, and getting things to auction off.

“People are just so generous.

“Matt Fest has grown and grown, but we’ve made mistakes along the way.

“The first year we had one band and one trailer at The Birley at Frecheville, the following year it was two but we were running around with buckets collecting money to pay the bands.

“Then it was fenced off as a proper festival and now, unless we take it to a field, the one event can’t get any bigger, so that’s why we have gone global.

“At first a place in Hull got in touch and it has just snowballed from there – it has all been through asking favours.”

The money raised through Matt Fest will hopefully be used to improve youth facilities in Frecheville but also to pay for the family’s continuing fight for justice.

An inquest ruled that Owls fan Matthew, who grew up in Frecheville and Killamarsh, was unlawfully killed.

The Chesterfield coroner heard evidence Matthew had been beaten and thrown down a flight of stairs outside the Cocktails and Dreams nightclub in Laganas, on the holiday island of Zakynthos.

Over the years his family’s campaign for a fair trial – backed by The Star – has not been easy.

The case was closed, then reopened. Then last year fresh hope arrived when news came that four men had appeared in court, charged in connection with Matthew’s death.

But they were then acquitted – and the most recent heartbreak came this week when an appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision was dismissed.

Now there is another mountain of paperwork and legal hurdles, as the family seek to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

David, aged 50, of Frecheville, has always remained determined in the face of adversity and says Matt Fest is part of what keeps him strong.

He said: “I think the way Matt Fest has grown is great. Everyone has always been 100 per cent behind it in Sheffield.

“It keeps his name in the public eye and is a positive thing to look forward to.”

The case has been made more difficult by long delays in getting information from the Greek courts, so the family had to wait months until they learned of the acquittal in November.

And when information does come via lawyers, it has to be translated – with the cost borne by UK authorities.

The family feel the decision to acquit was made based on just Greek evidence, and other witnesses had been made to sign Greek documents without knowing what they said.

Tony, who lives in Birley, said: “It’s cost the British taxpayer to put this case together and the Supreme Court has just thrown it in the bin without even looking at it.”

Despite the setbacks, and the devastation, one thing is clear.

Matthew’s family and friends will fight for justice until the bitter end.

David, and Tony, both insist: “We’re not going anywhere.”