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Ukulele players keen to add string to bow

UKE CAN do it – novice musicians were told at a workshop in Bognor Regis.


Ukulele newcomers sat down beside experienced players at the first of the Make Your Mark sessions held in advance of this year’s Southdowns Folk Festival in the town.


The event last Wednesday attracted 40 individuals who will be given the chance to take part in the festival’s first ukuele festival in September.


Roger Nash, the folk festival’s founder, said: “It’s a brilliant turnout. I didn’t know how many people were going to come along.


“About half are beginners and quite a few have come from other groups around the town like the University of the Third Age and Pebble Beach at The Waverley pub. If they want, they can join in at the folk festival’s performance marquee in the Place St Maur on September 21.


“I’ve had a lot of feedback about today and, hopefully, people have enjoyed it. It’s all about helping people, particularly older people, who are isolated and sitting at home bored and want to learn something new.”


The initial session last Wednesday at the Bognor Youth and Community Centre in Westloats Lane, was led by Dave Soothill.


One of those who helped him was former court enforcement officer Tony Williams, 72, of Bognor Regis. He has been a ukulele player for 18 months.


“The ukulele has only got three chords and you can pick it up quite quickly. It’s cheap to buy and you can play as much as you want.”


“It’s good for people like me who live on their own and there are a few ukulele clubs around here who are very welcoming.”


The ukulele sessions have received £13,000 in funding and they will continue after the folk festival. The next will be held at the centre on July 18 and followed by a third on September 5.


Mr Nash added: “There is a community flavour to the folk festival.


“We do have the star names like Steve Harley and Dervish but we also have a lot of events for local people with ten ukulele groups performing around the town.”


The festival is being held on September  20-23 and also includes free music workshops, the seaside ‘sing arounds, the Sussex young folk competition and a real ale festival. Activities will take place in the town centre and the Regis Centre.

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