The Upton Blues Festival in the pleasant riverside town of Upton upon Severn in Worcestershire has grown since the first festival in 2002 when just 19 bands appeared. The festival now has multiple venues, hundreds of bands and thousands of visitors. Being lovers of the blues we have visited this festival three times, camping on the field with friends and we always hear some great new music and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the festival. I am hugely grateful to the people that make the Upton Blues Festival happen and this year, while exploring the town, came upon this magnificent memorial bench.
Looking under the bridge at Upton upon Severn
The idea for the festival began from a conversation between Richard Tippin and Stewart McEwan at the June Jazz Festival in Upton upon Severn in 2001. Seven people each put £10 in to make the 2002 Blues festival happen and Richard Tippin remained as one of the organisers until his death in 2008. This lovely bench was installed the following year and remembers him and his contribution to the town. The bench is placed under the bridge by the river Severn and the plaque tells the story of the beginnings of the Upton Blues Festival in rhyme. I will make sure I pass by the bench every time we go to the festival in the future and give a thought to the people that make it happen.
It was a beautiful sunny morning when we stopped to look around Kirkhouse cemetery on the island of South Ronaldsay. This lovely cemetery is on a stunning bay and I spent some time reading the memorials on the graves before pottering through the colourful coastal flower meadows by the coast. We returned to our campervan to make some lunch and ate our picnic sitting on this handsome stone bench that remembers Meg Newman, wondering about her life.
Back at home I found a lovingly written obituary to Meg Newman and learnt of her links with Orkney. Meg Newman was born in Orkney, moving away to study and eventually settling in the south of England, working as an assistant librarian at Portsmouth Polytechnic in the 1970s. Meg Newman returned to work at Fareham College as a librarian after having children. The touching obituary from her husband, Richard, tells us that Meg Newman lived an active life, working as a volunteer with the local police, supported local charities and was a member of local groups. In his words and those on the bench I could feel how much missed Meg Newman is by her family and friends. Meg Newman’s funeral was held in Fareham and a later family service was held at St Peters, Eastside on South Ronaldsay, near to Kirkhouse.
“Meg” MARGARET NEWMAN, Daughter of Mr and Mrs Norquay of Stews, Wife of Richard, Mum to Rachael and Ross, Granny to Rory and Preston, 5th Jan. 1950 to 14th Feb. 2014. Ae fond kiss, and then we sever! Ae fareweel, alas, forever! (Burns)