Sweetest introduction to community festival

Graham Fellows, dressed as his  character John Shuttleworth
Graham Fellows, dressed as his character John Shuttleworth

Graham Fellows remembers the jam tart competition.

As a child in Sheffield, his parents were involved in the first Broomhill Festival.

That was 40 years ago, and now the comedy actor and musician is better known as John Shuttleworth, the fictional singer songwriter.

Not that he has forgotten his hometown community festival, which starts next weekend and runs until June 22.

He will be back for a performance at St Mark’s Church on June 6 when he will share memories of those early days. The evening will be led by the Rev Adrian Alker, former vicar of St Mark’s and the festival’s driving force for the first 20 years.

The latest programme is more extensive than ever, covering 70 events compared with 50 last year.

“So many people are offering events, and we don’t like to turn them down,” says the current chair of the organising committee, Alan Wellings. “There are more musicians, artists and crafts people. The size of the brochure has grown from 32 pages to 40.”

The festival is “about affirming the identity of Broomhiil, and I’m sure it does that”, says Alan. “Who doesn’t know about the Broomhill Festival? People ask when the banner is going up at the top of Glossop Road, and when is the programme being published. There is tremendous awareness.”

Many activities remain the same – the garden party, the jazz service, the gala dinner, the five-a-side football...

But they are organised against a backdrop of a changing community. “The demographic has changed radically over the past 20 years. When is started, the transient population was 15% to 20%, now its 50% plus, which makes it a lot more difficult.”

Many residents are passing through – students and professional staff at the university and hospitals. However, although the festival is held after the end of term, there are still some overseas students and postgraduates around to get involved.

Organisers aim to cover all costs through sponsorship and donations in kind, depending on the generosity of local businesses, so that proceeds from tickets sales can go to charities. The split this year will be between Churches Together in Broomhill & Broomhall, Roundabout, Sheena Amos Youth Trust and The Music Academy.

It all takes 10 months of planning.

A key theme this year is the centenary of the Great War, reflected in concerts, readings and a talk. And there will be events in Crookes for the first time.

But where is the jam tart competition?