Top musicians support festival welcoming refugees to Hastings

Top jazz musicians Sarah Jane Morris and Gwyneth Herbert are headlining at this year’s Festival by the Lake on Sunday 23 June, 12-8pm, in the beautiful surroundings of Ashburnham Place, near Battle, East Sussex.

Sarah-Jane Morris is the British soul, jazz and R&B singer who topped the UK pop charts for a month in 1986 with The Communards’ disco version of ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’. Morris’s magnificent soul voice has powered a 25-year career playing around the globe. Sarah-Jane is doing a series of intimate concerts accompanied by the virtuoso guitarists Tony Remy and Tim Cansfield to promote her album “Bloody Rain” and her forthcoming tribute to John Martyn “Sweet Little Mystery”.

Sarah-Jane Morris (middle) with Tony Remy (left) and Tim Cansfield (right)

Hastings resident Gwyneth Herbert is an award-winning British composer and lyricist, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. She has released 6 critically-acclaimed albums, and toured extensively with her band across the UK and internationally, and has shared stages with artists such as Boy George, Amy Winehouse, Jamie Cullum and John Cooper Clarke. Drawing on influences from the worlds of jazz, contemporary folk, classical music and storytelling, she performs with a variety of instruments. In 2017 she developed a new touring and recording project Letters I Haven’t Written, in collaboration with acclaimed video artist Will Duke, that involved working with refugee and other groups around the country.

Gwyneth Herbert by Ian Wallman

Also on the bill are: Hastings’ popular Afrobeat band Samaki; Juliet Russell; the Vocal Explosion Choir; Syrian trio Jamal, Alaa & Zahi; and more. There will be poets programmed by the Whole Shebang and a special theatre performance by PSYCHEdelight, a company who bring together European and refugee actors.

Now in its third year, the festival aims to raise awareness of the global refugee crisis and to foster a sense of community with refugees who have made a new home in Hastings. It also raises funds for local group Hastings Supports Refugees and promotes Hastings Community of Sanctuary; part of the national City of Sanctuary movement that holds the vision that the UK will be a welcoming place of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution.

Festival By The Lake 2018. Ashburnham Place, East Sussex UK. Fundraiser for Hastings Supports Refugees. Celebrating “Hastings Community of Sanctuary”.

Taking place on the closing day of Refugee Week 2019, Festival by the Lake is a full day of music, food, workshops and more.   At the heart of the event is a communal picnic – everyone is invited to bring food, bring friends and make new friends. Delicious food and a bar will also be available on site.

The lake on the estate will be open for wild swimming and you can take a guided tour of the woodlands and kitchen garden.  There will be lots of children’s activities, creative workshops and a special treasure hunt from artist Peter Quinnell (whose work has recently been on display at Zuzushii Arts Laboratory at 36 White Rock).

Event organiser Polly Gifford says, “The atmosphere at the festival is such a happy one, a day of shared humanity in the face of so many troubles around the world. This year we’re supporting the Lift the Ban campaign, fighting to enable people seeking asylum to work while their claims are processed rather than living on meagre benefits and wasting their skills. I hope you’ll join us for a great day for all the family.”

Festival By The Lake 2018. Ashburnham Place, East Sussex UK. Fundraiser for Hastings Supports Refugees. Celebrating “Hastings Community of Sanctuary”.

Tickets are £15 for adults, £5 for under 18s, and free for under 5s, available online and from Trinity Wholefoods and the Hastings Tourist Information Centre. A shuttle bus will operate from Warrior Square, bookable online in advance. Full details at hastingssupportsrefugees.wordpress.com/events and on the Hastings Supports Refugees Facebook group.


We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.