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Burwardsley Mini Folk Festival

October 24, 2016

Gosh, what an event it was, the Burwardsley Mini Folk Festival held in the Village Hall on Saturday 15th October 2016, a fine autumn day, to raise funds for repairs to the parish church, St. John’s.

Burwardsley is a tiny village in deepest rural Cheshire, nestling in the lee of Bickerton Hill, from which there are stunning views as far as Wales, Merseyside and Shropshire. St. John’s, dating from the 17th century and now a Grade II listed building, is built of buff sandstone with a pyramid-roofed bell turret at its west end, a gorgeous, much loved Anglican church with a loyal congregation.

The Mini Folk Fest was organised by a local lady who serves as a sidesperson at St. John’s: the wonderful Pam Moyle, our friend and fellow Chester Poet, whose own first book, From Here, a collection of her beautiful rural verse, is just out from Cestrian Press.

The whole event, which opened at 1pm, had a traditional, community feel to it with stalls selling everything from pewter repoussé art to cup-cakes. My partner Maureen Weldon helped at the book stall whilst I did a spot as storyteller for a group of young children who sat on cushions and listened open-mouthed before going to get their faces painted.

A troupe of belly dancers, called Halabia, were fantastic in swishing silk, and I’ll bet Burwardsley had never seen the like! During the evening half, Maranella, a medieval folk group, were tremendous too.  Truth is, every act was brilliant in its own, very entertaining way; similarly every reader at the open mic, including Pam (of course!), Maureen (with not only poems of her own but also a harmonica/oral rendition of Thomas Moore’s ‘The Meeting of The Waters’), myself and Mike Penney.

With a delicious hotpot along the way (thanks, George!), the event continued until nearly midnight, concluding with a jamming session with all musicians joining in. Maureen, on harmonica, played the first sweet bars of ‘Danny Boy’ and one by one the others followed with accordion and guitar, the song soon building into something truly moving, marvellous and memorable.  It was the perfect close to this most friendly, colourful and heartwarming of folk festivals.

St. John’s Church so deserves the best of care and it was a pleasure – an honour indeed! – for Maureen and I to do our bit for the cause.

Paul Beech


Copyright © Paul Beech 2016

  1. What a wonderful way to spend a glorious Saturday and of course you spin your explanation beautifully. You made me feel as if I was among the congregation enjoying the festivities. I paint a picture in my mind of your quaint village dotted with cottages and tree lined roads with leaves of red, yellow and umber laying down a carpet of Autumn and St. John’s Church with its’ bell tower rising above the rooftops. Thank you once again for sharing such a joyful day with us.

    Regards to you and Maureen.

    • Thanks Pat, so glad you enjoyed the piece. Yes, a joyful day it was indeed, and the picture you paint of Burwardsley is pretty close. Add a small Post Office-cum-village store, a 17th century hostelry called The Pheasant Inn, a number of local farms and a steep, wooded sandstone hill with an iron age hill fort at its summit (‘Larkton Hill’, in my collection ‘Twin Dakotas’), and you’ve got it!

      Burwardsley reminds me of Ambridge in the long-running BBC radio soap ‘The Archers’ and wandering the village on that golden autumn Saturday I felt I’d stepped back into my 1950s boyhood.

      My very best to you Stateside, and fond regards,


  2. Pamela Moyle permalink

    Thank you for this very positive review of Burwardsley’s first mini folk fest. It truly was a great day and evening with all pulling together to ensure its success. Thanks to you and Maureen for the parts you played – good friends indeed. I’m hibernating now – and getting back to my novel which has been rather neglected of late. Thanks again Paul. Pam Moyle

    • And thank you, dear Pam, for the opportunity to participate in your first Burwardsley Mini Folk Fest. It was such good fun in a community-spirited, friendly way, and all in a great cause, of course – St. John’s. For Maureen and I, the day will forever be a very happy memory to cherish.

      Good to hear you’ll be getting on with your novel now. From what I’ve heard, it sounds a truly inspiring, heartwarming story, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading it when the time comes.

      Take care,


  3. The evening sounded like a wonderful affair to celebrate and giving to a beautiful cause. The finale with “Danny Boy” sounds like the perfect way to cherish the sweet moment ~ I’ll bet it way moving Paul. Your imagery and words take those of us that are far away up close and personal to this special village, church and beautiful people.

    • Thanks Mary. With your beautiful artwork, you take us to faraway places too. And, had you been over here for the Mini Folk Fest, gosh, the pictures you might have painted! Autumn landscapes and olde worlde village scenes for sure. Maybe something rather more Lautrec-like (but not too much!) when the belly dancers were on.

      Yes, Maureen’s ‘Danny Boy’, building as it did with the other musicians joining in one by one, was indeed “way moving” and a wonderful finale. The Mini Folk Fest was a great event in a good cause, enjoyed by all.

      My very best,


  4. maureen Weldon permalink

    It was indeed an honour and a pleasure to be a little part of that beautiful October, all day ‘Mini Folk Festival.’ To help our very dear poet-friend Pam Moyle to raise money for St. John’s Church which nestles in the hills of the tiny village of Burwardsley. Yes to play “Danny Boy” on my harmonica was special, but all of that day was made more special because I shared it with my darling Paul.

    • Maureen, sweetheart, we wouldn’t have missed it for the world of course, not our dear friend Pam’s event! And what a gorgeous autumn folk fest it was, full of colour, friendliness and generous community spirit. But –

      Wherever we go,
      Whatever we do,
      Is special for me
      Because of you.

      With love,

      Paul xxx

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