'Save our Wilkestock' - charity music festival launches fundraising campaign after council revokes licence

The Fratellis playing Wilkestock.

The Fratellis playing Wilkestock. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock

A charity music festival has launched a fundraising campaign as the Hertfordshire site's owners start to appeal a licence review decision.

Organisers of Wilkestock are to challenge East Herts Council's decision to revoke the site's licence.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover the legal costs.

Wilkestock takes place on a site in Frogmore Hill, near Watton-at-Stone.

Responding to the licensing blow, site owner Tom Wilkes said: "We are looking at all the possibilities in the hope that we will be able to run Wilkestock in September, despite the obstacles that this decision has raised.

"We will also be launching a crowdfunding campaign to help cover the legal expenses we incur to try to retain our licence. 

"Please buy a T-shirt, a pin badge, donate the price of a pint or see what you can do here."

A band on stage at Wilkestock in Hertfordshire.

A band on stage at Wilkestock in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock

The charity music festival was launched by the Wilkes family after the loss of Matt Wilkes, aged only 24, who died in a tragic climbing accident.

It has raised in excess of £100,000 since 2007 for Keswick Mountain Rescue and Blood Cancer UK.

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Organisers are doing all in their power to ensure that the festival still goes ahead.

Tom Wilkes said: "Words cannot describe how disappointed we are with East Herts Council’s decision to revoke our long-standing licence, based on a review requested by the police.

"We certainly do not agree with the councillors’ decision. We have worked hard to run enjoyable, safe events at Frogmore Hill for over 10 years and have an excellent safety record.

"We have worked tirelessly and professionally with the council, local authorities and the local community over those years to prioritise the safety of our festival-goers and our relationship with our local community and we have endeavoured to meet the ever-changing demands of the police and other authorities."

Team Wilkestock say the review requested by the police was "substantially based on concerns they had following an event in 2018".

"Following a debrief to this event, we put many new measures in place for our 2019 events and received very positive feedback from the police on their implementation," said Tom.

"The review, therefore, came as a shock to us."

Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire.

Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock

He added: "We feel that a number of the claims made in the hearing by the police against our professionalism and our personal character are both unsubstantiated and unfair.

"We are very strongly of the view that the council’s concerns have not in any way affected the overall safety of these events.

"One of the issues related to the submission of paperwork and we have engaged two of the UK’s leading event safety professionals to independently review the plans and risk assessments for events at the site. The event management team were praised for the quality of their documentation."

The Frogmore Hill site near Stevenage is also home to Dog & Whistle Weekender, HogSozzle, and Back of Beyond Festival.

Organisers say potentially losing Wilkestock will hit the charities it supports hard.

Tom added: "The potential loss of our licence has not only devastated us personally but will also deprive the local community, musicians, contractors, budding event professionals, traders and our beloved charities of these worthy events.

"Through our charitable events, we have donated thousands to charity over the years, something we will no longer be able to do with the loss of our licence.

"Our festivals have seen the likes of Bastille, Tom Grennan, The Snuts, Sea Girls and many more come through our smaller stages, who have gone on to sell records all over the world.

"Not to mention the already established Razorlight, The Subways, The Fratellis, and Faithless, to whom many thousands of people have danced in the fields at Frogmore.

The Fratellis playing Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire.

The Fratellis playing Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock

"We received unprecedented numbers of letters of support during our licence hearing from neighbours, festival-goers, artists, volunteers, traders and local businesses, apparently, one of the highest of any licensing review the council has seen to date.

"To end all of this without validated, justifiable strong reasonings, in a time when the government and local authorities are championing the promotions of arts, culture and music, is a shameful and tragic loss to Hertfordshire."

Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire.

Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock

Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire.

Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock

Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire.

Cheers! Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock

Having a drink at Wilkestock.

Having a drink at Wilkestock. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock

Festival-goers enjoying Wilkestock.

Festival-goers enjoying Wilkestock. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock

Pouring a beer at Wilkestock.

Pouring a beer at Wilkestock. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock

Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire.

Wilkestock festival in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock

The Wilkestock festival site in Hertfordshire.

Which way now? The festival site in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Supplied by Wilkestock


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