Harold Hill Festival: Thousands attracted to community music event organised in Jodie Chesney’s memory

PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 September 2019

Families enjoying the bands at the Harold Hill Festival. Picture: Ken Mears

Families enjoying the bands at the Harold Hill Festival. Picture: Ken Mears

Ken Mears

Thousands of music-lovers flocked to Harold Hill’s first ever festival organised by the community in a bid to encourage young people to stay away from a life of knife crime.

The Harold Hill Festival, welcomed residents to Central Park, Harold Hill, for the day filled with live music from people living around the borough, as well as funfair rides, charity stalls, dance acts and food galore.

The festival was in response to the tragic death of Jodie Chesney, a 17-year-old Scout leader who was stabbed to death in Amy's Park, St Neots Road, Harold Hill, on March 1.

All of the money raised on the day will go towards various youth activities in the area.

Justin Vella, along with his wife Alexandra Vella, Councillor Jan Sargent, Councillor Paul McGeary and Martin Kenyon organised the day for the community.

Cllr Jan Sargent said: "It is absolutely wonderful, really pleased with the turn out and the weather was fine, no rain thankfully!

"Harold Hill is still healing after what happened to Jodie and this has brought so many people together and it's lovely to see everyone enjoying themselves.

"We are fundraising for activities for young people in Harold Hill to show our youth that we do care and help them to focus on something positive.

"If we can show them that there are alternative activities which they can get excited about then perhaps they won't get involved in knife crime."

Pc Sian Lipyeat with Charlie Grant, six. Picture: Ken MearsPc Sian Lipyeat with Charlie Grant, six. Picture: Ken Mears

Centreforce Radio, a DAB+ station in Waltham Abbey, supported the event with a host of Centreforce DJs playing house music and old skool classics.

DJs included Ritchie Eames, Carly Denham, Scott Rhyder, Silver and Milka, as well as Havering acts like J-Brooker, Max Restaino and Solar9.

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Popular cover band Expose' also performed on the main stage to help support the cause.

Residents enjoying the Harold Hill Festival. Picture: Ken MearsResidents enjoying the Harold Hill Festival. Picture: Ken Mears

Lead singer Dave Moore said: "We are local and obviously with all the stuff that has been going on, we felt it [the festival] was something we should show support for.

"We don't do a lot of charity stuff but this is important.

"It is our 40th year this year and we've done some big shows, worked with Jessie J, Toploader, Fleur East but we wanted to show our support for the community."

As well as the fun and entertainment, community initiative Take A Knife, Save A Life (Taksal), was on hand to provide visitors with assurance and information on how they are doing their bit to keep Havering safe.

Paula Mulvihill, Robert Dean, Peter Jackson, Lorna Clason, Catherine Rogers, Tony Joyett and John Adams. Picture: Ken MearsPaula Mulvihill, Robert Dean, Peter Jackson, Lorna Clason, Catherine Rogers, Tony Joyett and John Adams. Picture: Ken Mears

Paula Mulvihill, Pete Jackson, Lorna Clason and Robert Dean - just four of the 170 odd Taksal volunteers that help out - were on hand throughout the festival.

Robert said: "A lot of the stabbings before were people in gangs and not living locally but when I saw that a young girl was stabbed in the back, especially since it happened in Harold Hill, it had a massive affect on me and on a lot of people.

"And the fact there are so many people willing to volunteer with Taksal and that the festival has been organised by residents shows how strong the community is."

Lorna said: "We want to make a difference.

"We are not prepared to just sit there in our arm chairs and not do anything while young people are getting hurt."

The team behind the festival are already preparing for next year's event and have set up a Go Fund Me page, asking for any donations which will go towards the Harold Hill Festival 2020.

Sponsors of the Harold Hill Festival were: CentreForce 883, SGC Security Services, Playdays Preschool, Allen Ford, Britannia K9 Security and Training, Harold Wood Funeral Services, Final Checks Hair and Makeup Studio, Rough Diamond PR, Foh Sound Live, Henderson Perry Entertainment, Phase Two Security Solutions, Breyer Group, Lidl, Buildbase, Speedy Services and Davlav.

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