We seem to write it every year, but what a fantastic Audlem Festival it has been and which, sadly, has just come to an end.
Decent weather, wonderful entertainment, great venues and superb organisation combined to make this a festival to remember.
As always, thanks from all must go to the many advertisers and sponsors who make it possible and the amazing volunteers of the festival team that make it happen. This morning they must be exhausted but can look back in pride on five days that have provided so much pleasure for so many.
It's not just the performers who travel many a mile to play here as many visitors also travel a good distance to enjoy the music and atmosphere. Your correspondent spoke to 'first-timers' at the Audlem Festival who had travelled hours to get here. They were astonished at how good it was, and raved about the quality of the music and the technical teams making everything work so well.
We could write a detailed review but, over the weekend, AudlemOnline received an article from George Davids which we published yesterday. With so much going on, many regular readers may not have had an opportunity to read it but we think it says much about the Audlem Festival, set in the context of the awful events in Manchester just over a week ago.
This is what George wrote:
I often peruse AudlemOnline during my lunch break at work in pursuit of local gossip as well as to see the views of people I know on a different forum other than Facebook.
One of the great qualities of this site is the ability to read about local as well as national news. I have however noticed a distinct lack of attention given to the recent Manchester terror attack on AudlemOnline so far. On reflection, I assume that this isn't because Audlemites are insular, but because often finding the right words is challenging. Even finding the right moment to raise the issue can be difficult.
At the moment Audlem is playing host once again to the fantastic Audlem Arts and Music festival which is put on by a fantastic group of people free of charge for all. It is this which gives it its quality. It is for everyone; the old, young, male, female, for those who frequent Audlem, and for those who make it their annual pilgrimage. It is reflecting on this virtue which allowed me to find the appropriate message in response to the bombing.
The 'community spirit', clearly evident in the village at the moment, says something quite profound about British society: that while we may be a divergent lot – separated by partisan affiliation, experience, education, wage, financial assets, whether you voted Leave or Remain etc., coming together in the community is what we do best.
This virtue is fundamental to our identity. It is what makes the British defiant in the face of adversity, bold in light of uncertainty, and made strong when threatened by those who seek to undermine our culture.
Many questions will be asked during the rest of the election campaign about the bombing: why did it happen? What is to stop it from happening again? Where will the next target be? One of these questions was fundamental to the discussions on the BBC Question Time the other day: how can we stop people being drawn to this radical ideology?
It is my view that the answer cannot simply be just 'more police' or 'more power to authorities', nor can it be to 'get rid of people' as I read the other day from a local resident, however desirable it may be at the moment to pursue this course of action. What is needed is a bottom up approach to halt this radicalisation. It starts in the community.
It is in this regard that I turn once again to the Audlem Arts and Music Festival. If more communities embraced the precedent that Audlem has created by putting on events such as this a sense of community would blossom. If more communities were as hospitable as Audlem is then 'knowing one's neighbour' would be the norm throughout the UK. If, however, is the dependable factor; what separates Audlem is that it does rather than just theorises about being proactive when it comes to community. Personally, it makes me very proud to come from a village such as this for this reason among others.
Over the weekend, I hope and am sure all will enjoy the music which has been organised, but remember that the more that we communicate with one another, share a pint, a joke, a song, the more likely that other communities from around the Cheshire area will see the benefits of putting on an event such as this too. Before you know it, identifying radical ideologies such as that which we saw over the past couple of days will become more likely.
I am sure that I can speak on behalf of all of AudlemOnline by saying that our thoughts are with the families of those who died, or indeed were hurt during the attack, and for anyone reading who is local to Manchester.
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