I don’t like doing this because I always miss someone out and they feel unappreciated, so can I preface it by saying that I know I won’t cover everyone who contributed, but hope you are captured here somewhere. So, in no particular order…
- Thanks to all of the Sandwell Council and Sandwell Leisure Trust staff who put in a shift-and-a-half on the day and ensured everything went even better than we hoped. Particular mentions to Tony Potter and Wendell Deacon who came to the planning meetings and contributed so much, as well as staffing the real ale area and Strongest Man competition respectively all day. And of course, Cherie O’Sullivan who did much of the organisation on top of her day job in transforming our local park.
- A giant thank you to Enville Brewery and Kinver Ales for virtually organising the bar area for us. Jerry from Enville came over from Stourbridge 3 or 4 times to advise, help and encourage us, and we just could not have run the real ale festival without him. His Lightwoods Ale is now legendary.
- Thanks too to the stallholders who put on a great show. We were especially pleased for those who stuck with us through the lousy pre-Christmas weather at Bearwood on Ice, made a loss on the week without complaint, and hopefully atoned for it somewhat yesterday. Andrew’s Plants, Webbs of Bearwood and Chocolate Dreams are all in this category, but the friendliness and warmth of so many of the stallholders was commented on everywhere.
- The musicians, and Dennis ‘Musical Youth’ Seaton, blew everyone away on the main stage and the bandstand, such quality was difficult to believe at a free concert, and the variety of musical genres complimented each other so well and meant there was something for everyone.
- Now to a group without whom, this event really could not have taken place without… the volunteers. Team Bearwood did us proud. Superbly ‘Marshalled’, they ran the bar – Keith Bracey, an eight hour plus stint, and still as cheerful at the end as he was when he arrived, deserves a special mention. But the small army of purple-bibbed Team Bearwood volunteers, setting-up and taking down, stewarding, litter picking, giving out advice, all with fantastic smiles and glad to be helping, were just brilliant. Staffing an event like that with paid employees would cost a small fortune. They did it… because they wanted to! (Oh…and the volunteers took time out to wipe the floor with all-comers in the tug-of-war!)
- As so often, so much thanks to Richard and Team Marshall. What many don’t know is they have had a terrible bereavement and a serious illness in the family over the last couple of weeks, and it has been a really difficult time for the family. But Richard carried on, day after day, working away at the event, answering even the daftest, most frustrating obstacles and enquiries with courtesy, working 12-15 hours on his day job and organising this May Day event. On behalf of the councillors, and hopefully each and every one of those at the event yesterday, we salute you Richard, Marie and the family. Without adding a sour note, there are some mealy-mouthed folk on Facebook who hint that Richard does what he does for money. Nothing could be further from the truth, this lot costs him time away from his work and his family, and he has never received one penny in remuneration. As Joni Mitchell sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”…
- Finally, to the people of Bearwood, the Black Country, Birmingham and beyond, who came in such massive numbers, enjoyed our park and the sunshine, showed that we can behave impeccably, with or without a drink…and who had so much damned fun! We know there are lessons to learn, but thank you all for being part of a great bank holiday in OUR park.