From one festival to another

By David Gledhill, Marketing and Communications Officer

Ten days ago we held our fourth Ageing Well Festival which was the culmination of a full year’s planning.

It should never be underestimated how much work goes into organising events like this, from the conceptualisation through to delivery, it takes an enormous amount of effort by never enough people.

In our case we have a small (but perfectly formed) team of over 50-year-olds who give up their time, and give of their experience freely to allow us to put this event on. And it is no mean feat.

Already we have in the diary the planning meetings for next year’s event, though we do not have any inkling of its venue, content or even theme, but the planning has to start somewhere – and where better than just a few weeks after the last one.

We have already begun going through the feedback forms for the last event which we held, after a last minute switch of venue, that we could not forsee at the Paignton Community and Sports Academy in Borough Road in Paignton.

The venue was not ideal, but having been thrust upon the organisers they set about making the very best of a limited lot. If truth be told the venue was too ‘bitty’ with events being held across wide area, which is far from perfect.

Given the average age of the attendees, there were too many steps, spread over three floors – something which we would not have dreamt of condoning in an ideal world. And then there was the solitary lift, that give up the ghost after only a few hours.

It is easy therefore to be disheartened when reading some of the feedback forms, particularly given that most feedback is given not because someone wants to heap praise but because they want to be critical.

But all must be put in context. We reckon that there just short of a thousand people on the edge of Paignton – the vast majority of whom had a great time trying new things, going back to things they had forgotten as well as having a bit of a dance.

One of our own community builders wrote about her own 92-year-old father’s experience of the Festival thus: “My dad came to the festival this year for the first time, all the way from St Ives!

He came with my brother and his two children, after spending a few hours there, enjoying the music and dance, the children wanted to go to the beach, so my brother told my father to wait by the gate while he went to get the car. Lui arrived at the gate to find no dad. He phoned me, and I went around the festival looking for him. After 20 minutes I was getting worried and asked someone to check the male toilets. No Luck. I asked everyone I saw if they had seen him and showed Nina a photo of him on my phone. 5 minutes later she spotted him, and then they found me together. Where have you been? Everyone has been looking for you! You were meant to be waiting by the gate!

“Oh I have been having a fantastic time, I found myself in a clowning workshop, I showed them a thing or two about clowning and improvisation, everyone there was so good, I was very impressed.”

My dad is 92 and quite hard of hearing, and this is how he came to be in a clowning workshop instead of at the gate!”

If feedback be needed, then there it is, and as our organising committee gird their loins in readiness for the next one, they need to read the words above.

All we do is about learning and the Ageing Well Team and the Ageing Well Festival organising committee have learned loads over the last year, not least the last the last few weeks, and we will happily take that.

So, on with the next one – date and venue to be debated and announced, but for now what we need is more indefatigable volunteers, willing to give up their time, their energy and their enthusiasm for the benefit of the over 50-year-old community across the Bay.

If you want to help – no matter how much or how little, give me a call on 01803 212638 or email me at: and I will put you in touch.

Don’t forget to check out the photos from the festival on the festival page, and fill in the online feedback form from the link near the top of the festival page.