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If You Go Down To The Woods Today...

Having enjoyed being part of Morecambe’s event, the following day, Sunday, saw us making an early start, this time bound for Catterick Garrison, and celebrating Armed Forces Day with a Picnic in the Woods. It was being run by a charity called e50k, which to quote their own mission statement is ‘...a collective of military community members, with a vision to reduce the discrepancies between civilian and service life for Armed Force families, aiming to bring communities together, encouraging inclusion, cohesion and a healthier lifestyle for all.’

Our location was Bramble Woods, a three-and-a-half acre veteran woodland, that with the help of the local community, both serving and civilian, is slowly transforming into a treasured asset. What was once a barren field is now a community garden, with multi-bed allotments sheltered by a polytunnel, a wildflower meadow and pond, with picnic tables and benches. Although far from completed still, it’s wonderful to see so much effort and ingenuity transform an area like this and bring the community closer to nature. We arrived nice and early, and set about putting up our gazebo, a new purchase just this year and already proving value for money. Before long we were hooked up to a generator and had music playing to welcome the visitors. This is where the Pro32 system really comes into its own. It could, we discovered, be heard from a very long way away, all without deafening anyone or impacting on conversations of the scattered family groups.

The sunshine kindly played its part. I performed two short sets and was about to go on and do a third when... the generator overheated and we lost all power. Silence, as they say, reigned. After a few minutes of trying to get it up and running, Dave nipped back to the car to grab our emergency back-up system – a Bose S1, which runs off its own chargeable battery and connects to the laptop via Bluetooth. It’s not as powerful as the Pro32 but it does a job. Unfortunately, it doesn’t lend itself, at least outdoors in such a big area, to sing through. But no-one seemed to mind - and the background music Dave was playing, golden oldies and more contemporary material, was maintaining the ambience in itself. Amy, who had booked me and was in overall charge of the event, alongside her team of volunteers, was clearly happy with our contribution to the day. She contacted me the following day to say: ‘You guys are amazing. Communication, pre-planning and set-up was smooth and easy. Thank you so much for that! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and you really helped set the ambience for the day. It was relaxed and free-flowing! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to celebrate all of our armed forces community here in Catterick! Can’t wait to see you again next year.’

I am already looking forward to seeing the ongoing transformation of Bramble Woods. A huge thank you to Amy, Steph and all the other volunteers at e50k.

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