A blast of thunder and lightning didn’t stop Bedlington having a party in the park yesterday (Saturday).
The Northumberland Live at Bedlington festival was hailed a success as hundreds attended the free event, which included bands, street theatre, a fun fair and international food stalls in Gallagher Park.
Star of the show was chart-topping Matt Cardle, who saw off the challenge of none other than One Direction, Rebecca Ferguson and Cher Lloyd to win the 2010 X Factor talent show on ITV.
Matt’s first solo single, When We Collide, went to the top of the UK Singles Chart and became the second biggest-selling single of 2010 with 815,000 copies sold within two weeks. His new album, Time To Be Alive, was released in April with his latest single Desire became the BBC Radio 2 record of the week.
Festival organisers tweeted: ‘Well, what a great night with @MattCardle – thank you everyone for having a safe and entertaining festival.’
Lorraine Jones tweeted: ‘What a gig at @NlandLiveFest - was so worth getting soaked to the skin! @MattCardle you smashed it ... stunning vocals as always! Loved Don’t Be So Shy, another beautiful live track from the amazing #TimeToBeAlive.’
The free festival also included the Midnight Soul Sisters, with a selection of classics by The Supremes, Tina Turner, Chic and Beyonce; glam-rockers The Sleeze Sisters; Newcastle-based pop songstress Channy; country, blues and rock from Saint 7; pop, punk party band 5K; talented singer-songwriter Sarah Holmes from Ashington; the sounds of the sixties with FAB and Wallsend’s Junior Turner.
The event very nearly didn’t go ahead when funding cuts forced East Bedlington Parish Council to re-evaluate the benefits of the festival and look long and hard at funding streams.
But two of East Bedlington Parish Council’s members, Coun John Batey and its chairman Coun Keith Grimes donated £5,000 each of their own money to ensure that it went ahead. With the remainder being funded by East Bedlington Parish Council and a kind donation from neighbouring Choppington Parish Council to fund activities at the festival for young people, the festival was secured for this year.
Chairman Keith Grimes said: ”There was a real danger that the festival would not happen this year. We are well aware of how much this free event means to our community and we believed as a parish council that they deserved to have it.”
East Bedlington Parish, which covers the festival venue in Gallagher Park and Bedlington Station, is in the UK’s top 10% most deprived communities, a fact that influenced Coun John Batey’s decision to fund part of the event personally.
“I’m passionate about this area. The people here have very little and yet they will do anything for anyone with nothing being expected in return. They are real salt-of-the-earth people who deserve more. This is a community that has stayed alive despite recession and unemployment and it’s all down to the people,” said Coun Batey.
“I believe that they deserve the chance of seeing a world class act for free and it will be a great opportunity to give something back to our community. Bringing in a major music festival such as Northumberland Live at Bedlington is what the people need and I’m sure they will remember the day as a highlight of the year.”
It was the third year that Northumberland Live at Bedlington has taken place. Last year, The Commitments entertained thousands of people at the free spectacle and two years ago, the first concert saw Johnny Hates Jazz headline.
Deputy Parish Clerk Jenny Tindale said: “Next year, we will be looking at sponsorship opportunities and anyone who can help is urged to contact us.”