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A music festival for all

Emma Emma | 18:16 UK time, Friday, 1 July 2011

The Watchers

On Saturday 2 July, two thousand people will descend on Whickham, Tyneside, for the Chase Park music festival. A plethora of top local bands are expected to perform.

It's a one day event, with stalls and activities to suit the whole family, and best of all, entry is free.

On the surface this might look like a well organised community event, with a surprisingly strong musical line-up which includes local crowd pleasers The Lake Poets and Mausi. But it's an event with a message.

From concept to clean-up, the music festival has been organised in full by disabled people from the region, with help from Whickham Villa, which primarily supports people with acquired brain and spinal injuries, and the Percy Hedley Foundation, one of the area's largest disability charities.

it may have been conceived by disabled people and be taking place in the grounds of Chase Park rehabilitation centre, but there's a broader target in its sights. Alastair McDonald, director of Whickham Villa, the company which owns Chase Park, is keen to explain its universal agenda:

"Although our festival is organised and attended by many people with disabilities, it is based on the idea of a mainstream event that is inclusive, accessible and enjoyed by everyone in the whole community."

Martin Longstaff from The Lake Poets has a family member with motor neuron disease and is pleased that festival entry is free and fully accessible.

"I have relatives that live with a varied range of disabilities so understand the challenge of attending music festivals. With this in mind, this is a fantastic initiative in terms of giving people of all abilities the chance to be part of such a cool event that costs them nothing and has the facilities to cater for anyone."

Nick Hedley, who has an acquired brain injury, is the compre and seems like the perfect person for the job.

"When you see people who are drunk, it's because alcohol has damaged the sells in their frontal lobes. I've got a permanent two bottle of wine effect. this means that my inhibition level has dropped so I'm less nervous than I would be otherwise. I've researched all the bands and intend to introduce them in a humorous and encouraging way."

As well as music, the festival bosts a holistic therapy tent, market stalls and an education centre, where kids can learn about disability and get an insight into the human brain. Being in the grounds of a centre supporting people with acquired brain and spinal injuries, the entire festival venue is completely accessible and the organisers claim that there's something for everyone, whatever your age or disability.

Follow Chase Park music festival on Twitter throughout Saturday, using the hashtag, #chaseparkmusicfestival. And watch and listen out for live festival reports from Look North and BBC Radio Newcastle.


  • Comment number 1.

    A thoroughly enjoyable day. The bands were much better than i expected and there is nothing better than watching live music in the sunshine

  • Comment number 2.

    Thanks for the feature Emma, we really appreciate it. The whole day was a huge success and we had fantastic weather for it. I want to thank everyone involved. We will have video, audio and photos from the event on our website soon. Alistair McDonald, Whickham Villa

  • Comment number 3.

    The Chase Park music festival 2011 was better than 2010! Fantastic day experienced in a truly accessible venue with fantastic support none stop, sunburn weather and amazing sounds.
    Roger Cook North East Young Persons with MS - ne1ms


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