THE Stratford Mop of 1914 appeared little changed from previous years. Wartime austerity had not yet set in and few people foresaw that the conflict would be lengthy. One of the great traditions of the fair was its roasts. No less than five oxen and seven pigs were rotating on the spits outside the pubs on the big day. The excursion trains brought their usual hundreds of revellers from Birmingham and other centres of population. None of Stratford’s conscripts had yet embarked overseas, although just five days before, a regular with the South Wales Borderers, Sgt RH Savage, had been the first Stratfordian to fall victim to the war. He had been struck by shrapnel at the Battle of the Aisne and died of his wounds in Bournbrook Military Hospital.
Four years ago Ellis Holtom, of Stratford-upon-Avon, was born with half a working heart. Later, the Herald featured his condition as a tribute to the work of Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he was treated. Now, to mark Congenital Heart Defect Week his mum, Vicki, updates his story. . .
ALL 326 local planning authorities in England, councils like Stratford-on-Avon District, need a local plan. The core strategy is a component of that local plan. It contains all the local district wide policies that need to be considered when processing planning applications. New development needs to satisfy local needs, helping to realise the hopes and ambitions of its communities and protect them from situations they fear. New homes and places to work should provide then with a healthy lifestyle, a pleasant place to live, good recreational facilities and above all the infrastructure that enhances their quality of life. The buzzword to describe this is ‘sustainable’.
THE poor are paying more than they should be for their energy, according to damning new evidence from Stratford-upon-Avon’s Citizens Advice Bureau. Prepayment meters (PPMs) are costing users in fuel poverty a “disproportionate amount” for what little gas and electricity they can afford, the bureau has found. There are around 7.2 million people on prepayment meters in the UK and several thousand in the district of Stratford. Despite Stratford’s reputation as an affluent area, the bureau is being forced to come to the aid of more and more people living in fuel poverty on an increasingly regular basis.
THIS weekend nearly 50,000 dance music fans will descend on Long Marston Airfield for a weekend of partying, but behind the scenes of GlobalGathering is a mammoth team effort that makes it all possible.
In under two weeks, nine staged arenas filled with the latest and greatest lighting and speaker systems spring up on the airfield.
Work started last Monday and on that first day only a small team of a dozen or so people walk around the site, planning where everything goes.
When it comes to the actual weekend on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th July, there will be 2,500 members of staff.
From security guards, to first aiders, to sound engineers, to bar staff, they all need to know what they’re doing.
The man in charge is 44-year-old head of production, Dave McCalmont.
Having previously put together Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Dave also runs Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire, Lovebox in East London, Somersault in Devon and The Great Escape in Brighton.
He’s been the man behind Global since 2006, and co-ordinates the huge team from “a small airless room, at the back of the festival.”
“There’s hundreds of lights,” he told the Herald. “Something like 80 tower lights, the kind you would see on the side of the motorway, but we also have thousands of metres of festoons—you see them at every festival—cords of light bulbs you put in between scaffolding that gives you light along pathways.”
By the end of the first week, there were 100 people on site working from 8am until 8pm.
Amazingly each one of the huge tented arenas takes just a day to build. This year, the threat of lightning slowed things down at some points.
“The contractors that we use, that’s what they do all year round across Europe and the States. They’re all very used to doing it, to them it’s the simplest thing in the world so they don’t hang about.”
Once the tent is up, the stage is built and then the lights and speakers are fixed. That process takes around a day and a half.
Because the contractors work on a range of festivals, problems at other events impact on Global.
“If Glastonbury has a wet year every festival will feel it slightly because some of your contractors will be working at Glastonbury,” explained Dave.
“The stuff that we’ve ordered for Global can be delayed and a little bit muddy,” he said.
“The kit itself arrives a day later than you need it if there’s been a bout of bad weather, and the people definitely arrive with a different attitude. When it’s wet it changes the mood and the energy levels.”
Although this will be Dave’s ninth year at the helm, as the festival evolves there are new issues to overcome.
“Take something like The Hangar, which is a new arena for this year, some of the stage production is absolutely brand new,” he said.
The Hangar is the second largest stage behind the outdoor main stage.
The tent is one of the world’s largest portable structures. Big enough to hold a jumbo jet, hence the name, it can fit up to 11,000 people inside.
International DJ David Guetta is The Hangar’s headline act on Friday night.
“Some of the LED lighting that he’s using is the first time it’s even been seen,” said Dave. “It’s really unusual, really different.”
Even without this unknown, there are always issues to be fixed over the weekend. A year of planning cannot account for everything.
“There’s always something that breaks, falls over, has been left in the wrong place,” he said.
“Rather than one big thing there are 100 little things that need to get done.”
Over the weekend he has meetings every three hours with first aiders and the police.
A lot of the chat centres on traffic and the flow of festival-goers.
This year there will be 446 police officers and staff at the site over the weekend.
It’s been planned for 12 months, and takes just two weeks to put up.
But what about the actual weekend? “I haven’t slept since 2006!” laughed Dave.
“I just get much older during the course of Global, it’s a very punishing show to work on to be honest.
“The campsites open on Friday at 9.30am for VIP passes, and then our stages will finish at 4am the next morning. You get a short break and then we start up again for the next day so it’s a long old haul.”
Before that sleepless weekend, Dave’s got two weeks of intense work to get through, but he likes the fact his work sometimes goes unnoticed.
“I love the fact that there are elements of Global that don’t change,” he said.
“The focus is always on the stage, it’s always on the talent and that production for that crowd. It’s about giving them something spectacular, it’s not about the back stage bits.”
Still, it’s worth remembering what it takes to put on a show of that magnitude.
GlobalGathering takes place on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th July.