On Saturday, June 22nd , the Heeley community came together in spectacular fashion for the 2013 Heeley festival, with over 5,000 people enjoying the vibrancy and creativity of the largest event in the community calendar.
The festival was organised by the Heeley Development Trust (HDT), with voluntary support provided by local members of the Crowded House network of community churches.
“It genuinely was a pleasure to be involved” said Rob Spink, of Crowded House. “We were organising traffic, both human and literal, and running the Parent Zone at the Heeley Institute, where youth theatre group A Mind Apart delivered drama workshops and Mr Dan performed a circus show”.
“We want to get involved with the life of Heeley, show our commitment to the people of the community and help make it a great place to live”.
The festival stretched all the way from the Millennium Boulder to the Escafeld Medieval encampment at the Sheffield Energy Centre, utilising the streets and landmarks of Heeley and the staggered green spaces of the Millennium Park.
ReCycle Bikes provided free bike maintenance, repairs and activities, strawberry cream teas accompanied an exhibition by the Heeley History Group at the Heeley Parish Church and the exotic birdsong of parrots and hawks filled a tent by the White Horse.
The Main stage at Taggy’s Field offered children’s rides, live music and performances from an array of dance troupes while classic cars lined the streets outside the Institute and the Youth Shelter played host to an African drumming workshop.
“There’s a real sense of cohesion, and people working together” said Maggie Sanderson, of Shirebrook Road. “I’m relatively new to the area but have already been struck by the pride local people take in their community. The day has obviously been organised very carefully to meet the specific needs of local people – it’s wonderful to have all this on your doorstep!”
The festival provided a forum for both local and city-wide social enterprises, community groups and charitable organisations to raise awareness of their services, setting up stalls side by side with independent traders of locally grown produce, books and cakes as well as hand-made art, crafts and clothing.
“There’s a lot of really creative people living in the area” explained Bev Nunn, Events and Involvement Organiser for the HDT. “We’re really keen to engage the artists and musicians of Heeley, and to celebrate that aspect of our community”.
“One of the best things about living in such a bohemian community is that the car boot sales tend to sell more interesting things!” added Clare Masters, of Nicholson Road. “I’ve got candle holders, purple sprouting broccoli and a homemade blanket. My four-year-old son has found an ancient marble run, and I’m stocked up with coffee cake for the next couple of weeks!”
“I’ve been before and you definitely get the sense that the profile of the festival is getting bigger – I’ve bumped into quite a few people from other parts of Sheffield who travelled to Heeley for the day”.
The Heeley Festival 2013 was funded by the Co-operative, the Tillotson Tenants and Residents Association and Streets Ahead contractor Amey, showcasing the extensive redevelopment of the Millennium Park, which has been cared for by the HDT independently from Sheffield Council for the last 12 years.
“The play equipment they’ve installed is impressive but the landscaped gardens and wild nature areas are really special” said John Griffiths, of Alexandra Road. “It’s a fantastic environment for kids to learn to interact with their natural surroundings”.
“I can’t believe how much it’s all changed” added 19-year-old Sophie Rodgers. “My step-sister used to bring me to Witch’s Hat Park, as we called it, when I was a child. I moved to Lincoln when I was 10 and this is the first time I’ve been back – there wasn’t much here before but the park looks stunning”.
“It’s a really important community resource” continued John. “Parks and open spaces are too often taken for granted, but are fundamental to the well-being of the surrounding community”.
Photos of the day below and more can be found here (courtesy of Light and Dark Photography) http://www.flickr.com/photos/basculetheteller/sets/72157634306349080/