Crowdfunding kicks off Foxy’s festival

Crowd funding, social media and a big dose of events management know-how, helped Mike Chesters and his son Stephen, pull in upwards of 500 people to a festival to raise thousands of pounds for MND, in support of Gavin Fox who is living with the disease.

Football club chairman Mike turned to his son, an experienced festivals arranger, for help in setting up Foxy's Festival at Mike's club in Rhydymwyn, near Mold in North Wales. Gavin, now 34, used to play youth football with Stephen for a side managed by Mike, who wanted to do something to help people affected by MND after Gavin was diagnosed about two years ago.

"What we decided to do when we found out what had happened to Gavin was to go through and raise some money for MND. I've known Gavin for a very long time and I've known his family for a very long time now" said Mike.

The festival, which featured live music, circus acts, magicians and children's activities got rolling with a football match bringing Gavin's youth team and players from local rivals Hawarden Rangers together in an emotional reunion. Each player taking part donated £10 to the MND Association.

 "I managed the charity football game and that was the high point of the day for me. Seeing lads that Gavin had played with, and obviously Gavin coming onto the field in his wheelchair and starting the game off, that was the highlight," Mike said.

Raising donations via Crowdfunder was a big part of the success of the festival, which took place on 18 May. Mike said the crowd funding meant he was able to cover the costs of the festival before the gates opened and along with the proceeds on the day give a hefty donation to the North East Wales Branch.

"The actual acts to put on and the staging cost approximately cost £1,500. So even before the event we were in hand well over a thousand pounds before what we actually took on the day," said Mike. And more money from pledges at the auctions and raffles is set to come in.

The local branch provided a lot of support for the festival, Mike says. "They were all down there on Saturday, there was probably eight to ten people from the Association throughout the day, helping out. The main help they gave us was around the ground, they put out all the bunting and the balloons, that type of thing. The chairman auctioned the stuff off for us, so they were quite heavily involved in that side of things."

Mike is already thinking big about next year, aiming to swell the gate by hundreds of people, again using Facebook and Twitter to spread the word and give Rhydymwyn the kind of festival bragging rights claimed by Glastonbury.

"It was an emotional day for everyone. We had lots of kids, it was probably the biggest local event that's been put on," said Mike. "This is going to be an annual event. Next year it will increase extensively. My son set this up he is going to advertise more and all proceeds will go to MND. We'll add another 200-300 people to the  event next year."

Words by Keiron Henderson - Volunteer writer

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