Malmesbury’s First Folk Festival

Malmesbury’s First Folk Festival

Malmesbury’s First Folk Festival hits the right note as bands play to capacity crowds at the folk and roots festival.

They came, they danced and they sang at Malmesbury’s first ever folk festival, with bands playing to a capacity audience. The Folk & Roots Festival was pulled together in a few weeks by a small team. It took place in the beautiful cloister gardens of Malmesbury Abbey. The festival sold out, with 500 attendees.

Malmesbury's First Folk Festival - Festival-goers at Malmesbury Folk & Roots (pics by Richard Harris, RJH Studios)
Malmesbury’s First Folk Festival – Festival-goers at Malmesbury Folk & Roots (pics by Richard Harris, RJH Studios)

Backed by Malmesbury Town Council, and timed to coincide with the inaugural European Folk Day, sideshows, stalls and Morris dancing sides complemented a stellar line-up on stage.

One of the organisers was Malmesbury resident Catherine Burke, who runs the renowned Purbeck Valley Folk Festival. Catherine was able to book top folk bands, including 3 Daft Monkeys, Martha Tilson, Old Baby Mackerel and Wiltshire band Fly Yeti Fly.

I’m delighted with how the festival went. There was a great atmosphere, the music was awesome, and everyone had a lot of fun,’ said Catherine. ‘It was a shame to have to turn people without tickets away. To have sold out on the first year of a festival is unheard of. It’s a lovely surprise and we’re all over the moon!’

Profits raised

Any profits raised will go to Mayor of Malmesbury Cllr Gavin Grant’s three Mayoral charities:

  1. HEALS of Malmesbury
  2. Malmesbury animal sanctuary
  3. Malmesbury River Valleys Trust

It was a fantastic atmosphere, the Abbey made a beautiful backdrop and we showcased Malmesbury at its best,’ said Cllr Grant. ‘A big thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen and we hope it can become an annual fixture of Malmesbury’s music calendar.’

Malmesbury Mayor Cllr Gavin Grant with Wiltshire band Fly Yeti Fly (pic by Liz Cook)
Malmesbury Mayor Cllr Gavin Grant with Wiltshire band Fly Yeti Fly (pic by Liz Cook)



450K STEPS FOR CHARITY – that’s what Debbie Williams ( co-owner of John Williams heating services) is doing to raise funds for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society campaign (NRAS). Debbie received a diagnosis of NRAS some years ago.

Debbie Williams - 450K STEPS FOR CHARITY

Debbie Williams

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, usually affecting the hands, feet, and wrists. Those who experience this condition have flare-ups. When that happens, symptoms can get much worse. Treatments focus on minimising and preventing long-term damage to joints. Other symptoms include tiredness and weight loss.

‘My journey with RA began in early 2016 when I started experiencing constant tiredness alongside painful hands and feet with stiffness and swelling. After starting to take alternative remedies, thinking it was old age and perimenopause, I then turned to a doctor and I found out it was RA,’ Debbie said.

Managing the condition

Debbie manages her condition by keeping as active as possible by ‘walking whenever I can, doing yoga and meditation and on my bad days I do swimming. That form of exercise is so helpful for my joints.’

For Rheumatoid Arthritis Month this September, Debbie has set herself the challenge to walk 15,000 steps a day, a total of 450,000 steps to raise funds and awareness of RA.

‘I’m excited to push myself in aid of the NRAS. It’s both manageable and a challenge because I have to condition myself, but my main aim is to raise as much as possible for this wonderful organisation. So, if you donate, no matter how small, THANK YOU!’

Debbie is not the only one drawing attention to the campaign. Kirsty Young from Radio 4 is the voice of NRAS’ appeal for support, after her own diagnosis in 2018. Debbie and Kirsty are two of the 18 million affected by RA around the world.

‘Supporting my challenge would be the greatest birthday gift to me this September – yes it’s also my birthday month. I’m still going strong, your encouragement has helped me keep up the positive mindset to finish!’

To support Debbie, you can donate at

Paralympian ‘PATH TO PARIS’ Ambassador

Paralympian ‘PATH TO PARIS’ Ambassador

September 2023

Paralympian ‘PATH TO PARIS’ Ambassador. CHRIS Hunt Skelley MBE, gold judo medalist at the Paralympics in Tokyo, is one of five paralympic ambassadors chosen for the ‘PATH TO PARIS’ initiative. Its aim to encourage children to get active by following in their sporting heroes’ footsteps.

In a little under a year, the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games will take place. To mark this occasion, Get Set (the official youth engagement programme from Team GB and ParalympicsGB), is on a mission to get children aged five to eleven to get active with their new virtual challenge – Path to Paris.

Paralympian 'PATH TO PARIS’ Ambassador - Chris Hunt Skelley MBE who is one of five Paralympic ambassadors, alongside five Olympic ambassadors for the Path to Paris programme to get children active in the run up to the Game in Paris in August & September next year.
Chris Hunt Skelley MBE who is one of five Paralympic ambassadors, alongside five Olympic ambassadors for the Path to Paris programme to get children active in the run up to the Game in Paris in August & September next year.

One of five

Chris will be one of five Paralympic ambassadors. And there will also be five Olympic ambassadors. They’ll be encouraging schools, community groups or families to set up teams for children to take part, for free, and also learn about the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

‘I’m humbled and thrilled to be part of this project,’ Chris said. ‘Sport has always been an important part of my life. And, when I realised that I was losing my sight and there was nothing I could do about it, the sport of judo saved my life.

‘When I started out in this sport, I didn’t dream I could become the best in the world or win a medal at the Paralympics, yet here I am. If I can inspire one young person to embrace sport, get active and feel great about themselves then I’ve done my job.’

It’s all Greek to me!

The virtual challenge ‘begins’ in Athens, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. From there, children will embark on a virtual journey around the world in a team bus. They’ll complete fun activities as they explore different places on their way to the Paris games.

Every physical activity logged will earn kilometres to power a virtual team bus to its final destination. Whether it’s jumping on the trampoline in the garden, playing wheelchair basketball, attending a weekly judo club, or dancing around the living room as a family, it all counts. So everyone can get involved and get their hearts racing doing something they enjoy.

It’s an education too

As well as getting active, children will learn about athletes and their sports. Also the history of the games, and can win prizes too. These range from sports equipment, posters and stickers to help them track their progress. There’s even exclusive school visits from Olympic and Paralympic athletes! Team members might also get shout outs on social media from athletes, or win awards for their outstanding achievements. Whether that’s as an individual or as a family. Jamie Piggins of Team GB said: ‘The Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games will inspire the nation. With the best British athletes providing incredible performances on the global stage.

The Path to Paris programme will allow young people from across Great Britain and Northern Ireland to feel closer to these unforgettable moments. All by taking part in physical activity, meeting inspirational athletes, and learning more about the Olympic and Paralympic movement.’

David Clarke OBE PLY, ParalympicsGB CEO, said: ‘We’re excited that, as part of this programme, there’ll be a focus on disabled children and their families. This focus will help to inspire and support them to take part in more physical activity.  It’s our belief it will have significant social impact across the country. As children embrace the values of the paralympic games they’ll build active networks with their families and communities and form regular habits. That way they can continue an active lifestyle long after the 2024 Games are over.’

Path to Paris

Path to Paris is easy for schools to activate. It fits with the curriculum, with key links to PE, PSHE/health and wellbeing, geography, and history.

Learn more at

Fundraising takes the cake

Fundraising takes the cake

September 2023

Fundraising takes the cake for Optimum professional services. Fancy a cuppa? The team at Optimum Professional Services did, when they ran a coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Staff at the accountancy and law firm in Swindon baked or brought in cakes, made a brew, and took time out of their busy day to help the charity. In fact, they had so many cakes, they sold them over two days!


Macmillan supports people living with cancer. The organisation has been running its World’s Biggest Coffee Morning since 1990. This year, the official event takes place on September 29. But organisers can run coffee mornings whenever they wish. The coffee morning at Optimum, which raised £80 for the charity, is one of many regular fundraising events the team stages. Across the board they raise thousands of pounds. Every year, the business supports a local good cause. And this year is raising money for mental health charity Swindon and Gloucestershire Mind.

It’s our belief that it’s important to do our bit and give back to the community which we live and work in. That as well helping with national fundraisers like the Macmillan Coffee Morning,’ said Operations Director, Tracey Heath. ‘Plus, it’s fun to take part in, and a great way for the team to bond, and enjoy cake at the same time.’

Fundraising takes the cake - The Optimum team
Fundraising takes the cake – The Optimum team with cake!

For more information about Optimum Professional Services, visit Or email or call 01793 538 198.



September 2023

FINANCIAL ADVISOR CELEBRATES SECOND ANNIVERSARY. Wroughton-based financial adviser Dave Southby is celebrating the second anniversary of starting his own business.

Over the course of those two years, he’s seen his business grow. So much in fact that he’s recently taken on his first employee to both meet current demand and to enable future growth.

I still can’t believe it’s been two years already,’ Dave said.

Dave Southby who is celebrating two years of his small business - FINANCIAL ADVISOR CELEBRATES SECOND ANNIVERSARY
Dave Southby who is celebrating two years of his small business

A growth year

This has been a fantastic year of growth for both the business and for me on a personal level. I have taken on my first employee and doubled the number of clients and funds that we as a business look after. On a personal level, I got married in the summer which is, of course, an incredible milestone in my life.’

What has Dave learned over the past two years? ‘I think the biggest thing I have had to learn is to know what I’m good at and then to outsource the things I am not so good at,’ he says. ‘I have a team of freelance individuals who help me with those things, so I can focus my attention on what I do enjoy which is positive client outcomes.’

In July, Neil Sawyer joined the business as its first full-time employee. In the first instance to help with practice administration but with a view to, at length, becoming a paraplanner.

Giving back

Giving back to his community has also been important to Dave from the beginning.

This year he has been raising money for Swindon & Gloucestershire Mind after pledging to raise £1,500 to thank them for supporting a close friend. In April, he walked 27 miles, from Stonehenge to Avebury. And he’s got a sponsored run booked for the 10th of December where he will be running 10km dressed as Father Christmas!

Dave also runs free drop-in financial sessions with a colleague each quarter in his community of Wroughton. And he’s the chair of local referral group BusinessWise.

Dave Southby is a partner with St James’ Place and helps individuals, families and small business owners to manage their wealth effectively. He specialises in working with people who live in Swindon and North Wiltshire. To find out more about him visit

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