Virtual music festival is a huge hit for Welwyn Garden City charity

PUBLISHED: 11:09 24 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:02 27 July 2020

Hertfordshire's Eirra opened Folk by the Oak's virtual 'Family Nest' Fest in aid of charity Willow. Picture: supplied by Folk by the Oak

Hertfordshire's Eirra opened Folk by the Oak's virtual 'Family Nest' Fest in aid of charity Willow. Picture: supplied by Folk by the Oak

Supplied by Folk by the Oak

A popular Hatfield music festival’s virtual offering has raised nearly £20,000.

With Folk by the Oak unable to take place in the grounds of Hatfield House this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, organisers took the summer event online.

Sunday’s FBTO ‘Family Nest’ Fest proved a huge hit with more than 15,000 views from people across the world.

Featuring performances from a host of big name folk acts, the virtual festival has raised almost £20,000 so far – with the total still climbing.

Donations will be split between the performers and Welwyn Garden City-based Willow, Folk by the Oak’s charity partner.

Folk by the Oak's virtual 'Family Nest' Fest took place on Sunday, July 19. Picture: supplied by Folk by the OakFolk by the Oak's virtual 'Family Nest' Fest took place on Sunday, July 19. Picture: supplied by Folk by the Oak

The ‘Family Nest’ Fest was created to raise vital funds for the participating musicians who have lost their livelihood during 2020 and Willow, which provides Special Days for seriously ill young adults.

Each cause will receive half of the total raised.

Festival organiser Caroline Slough said: “Family Nest Fest was a way of seeking positives amid the gloom.

“It was a chance to help musicians who fill our lives with so much joy as well as support the amazing Willow charity, even when our festival has been cancelled.

Cancer survivor Spod Bailey, aka singer Eirra, performed at this year's Folk by the Oak virtual 'Family Nest' festival with proceeds going to Welwyn Garden City-based charity Willow.Cancer survivor Spod Bailey, aka singer Eirra, performed at this year's Folk by the Oak virtual 'Family Nest' festival with proceeds going to Welwyn Garden City-based charity Willow.

“Seeing the goodwill and generosity of our online audience made us feel we were back in the field at Hatfield enjoying the real thing with this lovely gathering of people.

“We loved putting this together and we can’t wait to see everyone at Folk by the Oak next year – July 18!”

Streamed on Facebook and YouTube last Sunday, and still available to watch, the ‘Family Nest’ Fest bought the festival vibes direct to people’s home and gardens.

The heart-warming evening included performances from award-winning musicians of the calibre of Richard Thompson, Grammy winner Mary Chapin Carpenter, Julie Fowlis and Seth Lakeman.

Folk by the Oak's 'Family Nest' Fest line-upFolk by the Oak's 'Family Nest' Fest line-up

It also featured local performers, such as Hitchin-based singer-songwriter Eirra, herself a Willow beneficiary.

Willow communications manager Stephen Troussé said: “Everyone at Willow is completely blown away by the amazing generosity of Folk by the Oak supporters.

“Like many charities, Willow has had a very challenging year so to get such an incredible contribution from music lovers around the world is a vital lifeline, and will help us create more special moments for seriously ill young men and women.

“We were particularly pleased that the festival was opened by Eirra, the young Hitchin-based musician we created a Special Day for last year, following her treatment for thyroid cancer.

“To see her perform to a global audience was a very special moment for all of us.”

So far the festival has raised £19,521, and the organisers are calling on everyone to help them reach at least £20,000.

The festival is still available to watch at https://www.folkbytheoak.com/about/familynestfest/ and people can donate now at https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-family-nest-fest-fund

Find out more about Folk by the Oak’s ‘Family Nest’ Fest at www.folkbytheoak.com

Find out more about Willow at www.willowfoundation.org.uk


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