Performers of all ages shine at 102nd Festival

The 102nd Alderley Edge Festival is now over - and what a week it was! People of all ages took part, from tiny 4-year-olds reciting a poem, to the over 80s belting out show tunes in a choir.

Maria Rushton said "Yes, there's an element of competition but this is much more about bringing people together to share their enjoyment of performing our wonderful culture of music, speech and drama.

"We were so lucky to have been blessed with mostly fine Spring weather - apart from Wednesday night when the heavens opened just as the committee were moving chairs from the Scout Hall to the Festival Hall in an attempt to seat the hundreds of choir members and their huge audience. It was a terrific evening of fun for all and The Laurence Singers from South Manchester came away with first place."

Two talented young men picked up the prestigious vocal awards: Ted Tanner (13) won the Alderley Junior Singer of the Year and gave the audience a perfect rendition of The Lord is My Shepherd at Saturday night's Finale. And George Herbert (17) was crowned Alderley Young Singer of the Year, treating the Saturday night crowd to a moving performance of the traditional British folksong, O Waly Waly. George was awarded the Joyce Lowe Cup for his Outstanding Contribution to Music.

Oliver Rushton (15) won the Young Thespian of the Year and the William Roache Award for Outstanding Drama. Oliver also won the inaugural Dawn Patrol Cup, which is a new award for the overall winner of a class that has performers from both Music and Speech & Drama taking to the stage.

Maria commented "This year's theme was Leonard Bernstein and Spike Milligan, gentlemen who were both born 100 years ago. The event was such a success that we will definitely be repeating it next year. Oliver performed his winning piece, a reading from The Bible According to Spike Milligan, with great comic timing."

Edward Pickersgill (13) won Junior Thespian of the Year and the Sarah Roache Memorial Cup for Outstanding Contribution to Speech and Drama. This talented young man also won first place for playing the Trumpet Voluntary - he reprised his performance on Saturday night at the Finale and also gave performed his drama piece which showcased his talent for a variety of accents.

Also dazzling the audience on Saturday night was AJ Taggart (winner of the Briggs Bowl) who played the 9ft concert grand piano with such panache and Anna Grayson (winner of the Granville Bantock Cup) who played the recorder beautifully.

The singer Ceferina Penny, who successfully represented Alderley Edge Festival at the North West Regional Championships last year, sang so enchantingly that it's no surprise to learn that she is soon to be performing with the English National Opera in their production of Salome.

For many the highlight of the evening was the performance of a young brother and sister, Sophie (15) and George Akka (12), who played Pachebel's Canon with such sensitivity that they melted the hearts of the entire audience.

Maria added "The evening was tinged with sadness, as it was the farewell Finale of Chairman Keith Lowe. Keith has been a huge part of the success of the festival for 13 years, and his indefatigable enthusiasm, warmth and good humour have helped to successfully steer the Festival through its 100th anniversary and into its next century. We shall miss him."

Photographs by courtesy of Cheetham Photography. All photographs are available from - use EDGE-FEST to view all the photographs from the week.

Photos: Sophie and George, Anna Grayson, Ceferina Penny, Edward Pickergill, George Herbert, Keith Lowe, Oliver Rushton, Ted Tanner, Voccini from Withington.

Alderley Edge Festival