Woo Fest was initially set up in memory of a local man, John Simons who died at St Richards Hospice in 2013 aged 66. Since then its grown and touches the hearts of so many people, here Luke Simons picks up the story.
“In 2013 my dad had a really short battle with pancreatic cancer. Once we got the dreaded news from the hospital that there was nothing more they could do our world started caving in, particularly as 2 weeks before we had no idea that he was even ill and now we were being told he had about a week left. Dad was on a typical hospital ward with lots of noise, people and a lack of privacy. He took the news very bravely but I could see he was getting agitated being there. There were limited visiting times, and little things were starting to frustrate him.
This is where St Richards stepped in and transferred him to that little oasis. He had his own room, we could stay as long as we wanted (even overnight), we played all his favourite music. We watched cricket, spent time on his patio next to the pond and we even celebrated his granddaughter's (my daughter) 3rd birthday there. During this he also had absolutely amazing nursing care, and all the little details were sorted out; his will, haircut, and we even had a curry delivered!
I think the main thing it allowed us to do was to come to terms with what was going to happen and for everyone to be at peace with it, and its amazing how we all accepted it. Looking back now even the conversations around music for the funeral seemed very easy. One of the songs he chose was Alright Now by Free, I think for some reason he thought it would be amusing as in his words – “I won’t be alright – I’ll be dead!”… my old man always had a slightly strange sense of humour!
This may sound strange but I actually enjoyed those few days, I have good memories and things would have been very different without St Richards Hospice. The support once my dad passed away was also great with even the offer of counselling for as long as required. Some of these things may even sound trivial but throughout the darkest time, we had dignity, comfort, fun and laughter.
When I was walking to reception for the first time, and this is despite what I thought I knew about hospices, I remember thinking this is it; this is where people come to die. I now know that it's not, people actually come here to live, to get quality care and spend quality time with their families during those precious times. That is why they are so deserving of our support.
In 2014 we wanted to give something back so with some friends we organised a charity challenge along 140 miles of the river Severn that we called Source to Sauce. It was a great event and we raised some good money, but we found that we raised almost as much money at the party afterwards with over 100 friends and family than we did in sponsorship. So during that night after a few too many beers I said to a friend that we should organise a music festival next year, he kind of said yeh right whatever Luke. But I’m pleased to say that’s what we did and it’s fitting as my old man was such a music fan. We now have 4 festivals under our belt and have a really committed group of volunteers, sponsors, technicians and of course some amazing acts that have supported over the years. Our customers have been incredible and really supported us throughout the years and come back time after time and we strive to put on a good day for everyone. So far so good!
Our volunteers include people who have been personally touched by the work of the hospice to people who simply want to support their community. In other words - amazing people!
So why the name? simple - Woo is the slang name for Worcester and we think think it’s a bit “woo”!
If you like good music and/or want to support such an important charity then why not join us at Woo Fest? Every single penny of your ticket will go straight to St Richard’s Hospice thanks to all our sponsors, volunteers and musicians.”
St Richard’s Hospice provides free specialist palliative care for patients living with life-limiting illnesses and supports their loved ones.
Each year the hospice team supports over 2,500 patients and family members in Worcestershire. The hospice strives to provide the best medical, practical, emotional and social support we can to help people live life to the fullest, as independently as they can, for as long as they can.
St Richard’s is an independent charity and is grateful for all donations to help it continue its work.