By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
Hold the date – Saturday, October 24th 2020 – seems aeons away, but the sixth annual Ageing Well Festival will creep up on us in no time.
Ask the team who are putting it together if they think it is a long way off and their answer will be a resounding no, not least because they are aiming to make this one, the big one.
Once again the Riviera International Centre in Torquay is to be the venue and with good reason after the success of last year’s when an incredible 1,750 people walked through the doors.
Almost without exception, those that came along loved it – 97% described it as either exceptional or good. Praise indeed for a hard-working team – all of whom are now immersed in the planning for the next one which aims to build on all that has gone before since we started back in 2015.
This year’s, the last that will be funded by Ageing Well Torbay, will be a celebration and to an extent, an amalgam of the very best of all our festivals, be that music, dance, workshops, information or speakers.
And what a wealth of talent we have unearthed and showcased over the year’s starting at a variety of venues over four days in October 2015 when we hosted a Big Skill Shares Day featuring the Timebank, the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust and Adult Learning among many others.
The outline, which has generally continued in subsequent years, also featured aqua Zumba in Brixham and water mobility in Torquay alongside films exploring ageing well and a creatively named workshop called Meet the Grandmothers Encounters Art event in Paignton.
It was also the year that we encouraged you to get back on your bike, take part in Wild for Life walks, get involved in graffiti for grandparents or attend classes as an introduction to abstract art.
In 2016 we took over Torre Abbey staging a festival with a storytelling theme and the first of many Ageing Well appearances by Torbay’s one time King of rock n’ roll and now memorabilia guru, Lionel Digby.
The Flashmobbers made their first appearance at the 2016 Festival performing on the hour, something they have repeated to a variety of different songs and in a range of settings down the years.
In 2017 we shoehorned in not one but two festivals – the Symposium of Ideas in May in Torquay where various speakers, including Lionel alongside a geologist, an astronomers and a comic were featured along with workshops on history and still life drawing.
But later in the year we were at Lupton House for a festival that is remembered, not just because of the parking in a muddy field in pouring rain but because we introduced a theme of the 1960’s and challenged all comers to dress accordingly.
The sixties theme was taken to heart with many getting into the spirit to watch the official launch by a group of scooter riding mods before heading off to the hippy tent or to watch the ever-popular Sindy Sparkle belting out 60’s hits alongside festival stalwart Anne George’s dance party.
2018 was a nightmare for the organisers when the venue was switched at the last minute to the Paignton Community and Sports Academy in Paignton. Sadly the building was not ideal, but we soldiered on despite parking problems and a lift that insisted on trapping people.
But we put on a brave face and cracked on with last year’s masterclass of a festival at the Riviera Centre. We are not claiming it was perfect; we learned a good few lessons as we always do – better signage, a bus shuttle up the hill from the main road to name but two.
And that is what our organising committee do best – learn. They learn all about what you love, like the first fashion catwalk that we featured last year in conjunction with Sainsbury’s.
We know you love music, we know you like entertaining speakers, we know you enjoy browsing stalls packed with information, and we know you love trying new things.
All of which leads us to this year’s festival the contents of which we do not yet know, but we are working hard on it. We do know a few names, and we do know we will be commemorating VE Day in some form, but we are not giving anything away yet.
All we promise is that it will be a cracker. Saturday, October 24th. Riviera Centre, Torquay. Watch this space.