A distinct sense of community

Broomhill Festival
Broomhill Festival

The start will be sounded in church by Oughtibridge Brass Band, to be followed the next day by residents opening their gardens to visitors, a jazz concert and a performance of Charley’s Aunt.

Broomhill Festival is back for the 39th time.

“I don’t know if there is a record number of events, but there are more than last year and the year before that,” said Alan Wellings, who chairs the planning group.

Just over two weeks of activities start next weekend.

They range from flower arranging to concerts, a local history walk to a church jazz service, and an art exhibition to a photography competition in memory of St Mark’s member David Stoker, who died of a brain tumour in 2011 at the age of 30.

The five-a-side football competition, which has attracted up to 90 teams in the past, returns after a year’s absence to Goodwin Sports Centre (with an extended deadline of tomorrow (Friday).

The centrepiece, as usual, is the children’s parade and garden party on June 15.

Organisers have “an insatiable appetite for volunteers”, and the local community responds every year at a time when things have quietened down because most students have gone home.

When the festival started, only 10% to 15% of Broomhill was transient in the form of students and medical and university staff coming and going. Now it is around 50%.

There’s a school of thought that the festival should be brought forward to May so that the students could be more involved, and shops could benefit from extra business.

But what about the weather? And many residents appreciate the relaxed nature of the festival.

So everything is set for June 7 to 23.

Sponsorship and admission fees will help to generate a surplus to be shared between seven local charities. Last year’s figure was £7,000.

“It’s sole purpose as far as I am concerned is to be as good a festival as possible, and a major condition is that the surplus goes to charity, which is very satisfying,” said Alan.

The festival is “embedded” in the community of Broomhill, he added.

“It’s part of its distinctiveness. Broomhill isn’t a place, it’s a state of mind and the festival is very much part of the state of mind of Broomhill. It is very important we regularly redefine its sense of identity.”

It all starts next weekend - then organisers will start to turn their attention to the 40th anniversary.


Follow the festival in the Telegraph Listings.