Arts & Culture

Hoylake’s Summer Strum ukuele festival goes virtual

By Emma Gunby at

Hoylake’s Summer Strum ukulele festival is going online with bands from across the North West taking part to raise thousands of pounds for two Wirral charities.

Video performances by ukulele acts from Liverpool, the Wirral, Cheshire, Lancashire and beyond will be screened during a free day of music on Facebook and YouTube, on Saturday July 4.

Summer Strum organisers

There will also be three interactive ukulele jam sessions through the day and music workshops which people can join in from home on Zoom and Facebook, as well as a live yoga and meditation sessions, storytelling, poetry readings, a quiz and a raffle.

The event is free but anyone who logs on is asked to make a donation if they can, in aid of the festival’s two nominated charities Wirral Mind and Wirral Hospice St Johns, with already more than £600 raised towards a £2,000 target.

The Summer Strum was set up to help spread joy and wellbeing in the Merseyside community through the power of music. Part-funded by the National Lottery, it is entirely volunteer-run, with more than £18,000 raised for the two charities since 2014.

Camping at Summer Strum

Camping at Summer Strum 2016

This was due to be the event’s sixth year running, with more than 50 acts lined up to play at Hoylake Rugby club where last year more than 2,000 people attended over three days.

With lockdown restrictions preventing mass gatherings organisers Pat Ross Davies from West Kirby, Emma Owen from Birkenhead, and Dave Cornett from Rock Ferry, have pulled out all the stops to put on a free on-line festival instead.

Anyone can tune in to watch and take part in this year’s on-line festival, from 9.30am until 9.30pm, by following the links from the Hoylake Summer Strum Facebook page and website.

Summer Strum founder Pat Ross Davies is living with cancer and is receiving treatment at Clatterbridge hospital so she has been shielding throughout the pandemic and is setting up a garden studio to be able to help introduce acts with husband Ian.

Also hosting will be fellow festival organisers Emma Owen who plays in Wirral band Broken Strings with Pat as well as being half of the Two of Us, and Dave Cornett who plays with the D’Ukes of Hazzard and the YinYanBand, and has been helping host weekly global ukulele jams on Zoom throughout the pandemic.

Pat, a grandmother of two, took the lead in a special split-screen video created by the Summer Strum team for VE Day, singing Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again, which will also be streamed at the festival.

She said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and shielding through lockdown has been incredible tough and the support from the ukulele community has helped keep me going – music is like my second medicine and so it is very special indeed to be able to host the event on-line while we continue to stay at home.

“We are really excited to be able to showcase some fantastic performances from some of the best and most fun ukulele acts from across Merseyside and beyond, and hope people will log on to join in the fun throughout the day.”

Emma said: “Summer Strum would have been celebrating its 6th year at Hoylake Rugby Club this July, then along came Covid-19, and like so many other community event organisers, we have had to take the decision to cancel the festival.

“But every cloud has a silver lining and we are excited to be able take the festival online. Using the power of technology, we will be featuring performances from some of our favourite acts from the Summer Strum over the years.

“We will also be hosting jam sessions via Zoom, ukulele workshops, yoga & mindfulness, storytelling and poetry. We continue to support Wirral Hospice St Johns and Wirral Mind and we encourage anyone who can to make a donation via the links on our Facebook page as charities need our help more than ever.”

For more information and to download the Summer Strum 2020 songbook visit: summerstrum.com or find the event on Facebook @SummerStrumHoylake