Here are some of the long-standing volunteers who help make the event happen – see who you can spot on site in 2019…
Antony Lucas is hard to miss at the festival each year – as host of the Talks & Tastings tent he always looks dapper in his trademark Union flag blazer. You may have also glimpsed Antony on the TV – he’s a background actor, appearing recently in Peaky Blinders and other TV and big screen productions. Most importantly, he has a serious interest in all types of cuisine.
Martin Robinson is our official festival photographer. He’s deeply involved with many aspects of life in the town as a trustee of Stone Common Plot and Oulton Village Hall, as green manager for a local bowls club, and – as a retired horticulturalist – with Oulton Community Group and the Best Kept Village Competition. In fact, he says he’s busier now than when he was working for a living!
Jon Fairburn is Professor of Sustainable Development at Staffordshire University and leads the team of university students and staff who work with us each year. As well as stewarding, working as bus guides and helping with social media coverage, university volunteers manage our visitor survey, which provides us with lots of information to make the festival better each year.
Derrick Hynam – fence erector extraordinaire and custodian of the festival spanner; Alan Goldsmith – a valued member of the site building team; and our fantastic fork lift truck driver Pete Arnold all carry out vital tasks in helping site manager Mick Powell transform Westbridge Park from greenfield site to foodie haven (and back again) over 2 weeks in October.
Collin and Julie Taylor have been with us, in one guise or another, almost since the festival’s start. They have been, and still are, closely involved in lots of projects and events in Stone. At the festival, Collin is our compere in the demonstration kitchen, while Julie is the main entrance team manager. As well as rugby, gardening and travel, dining out is a major hobby – then trying to recreate the dishes themselves.
Dave Williams organises our live music stage and makes sure the crowds are entertained each year by a host of brilliant local bands. A member of The Formula and Tequila Rose, he’s a regular on the Staffordshire live music circuit.
Rob Smith runs the festival park-and-ride scheme which shuttles visitors between Westbridge Park and nearby Aston Marina, an award-winning restaurant and events venue. He plays a vital role in making sure visitors get to and from the festival site safely each year – while helping to keep the town centre free of extra traffic.
Our ‘Kitchen Fairies’, as they’re affectionately known, keep everything running smoothly in the demonstration tent. Wendy Powell and Elaine Robinson, plus their team of willing helpers, make sure no knife or colander is missing for each chef’s session – and are the fastest pot-washers in the West!