Commons Touch - Celebrating Ashford

I attended two events last Saturday which in their own ways illustrate so much of what is good about our country and our area. At times when the world seems darker than ever it is important to remind ourselves about how much good we see around us.

The first was the celebration of the completion of the first phase of the rebuilding project for Wye Village Hall. This has been helped by grants both from Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council, but the driving force has inevitably come from within the village itself. The fund-raising has been methodical and successful, but more importantly enjoyable. As a Patron of the Appeal I have enjoyed humiliating myself at Quiz Nights, and it is even more fun now to see the results.

The project is only half way through, with the front of the Hall still to be refurbished, and a new area at the back of the Hall still to be landscaped. Many local village halls have been transformed by Lottery funding in recent years, so it is more impressive than ever that the people of Wye are driving it themselves.

The other Saturday event was more of a regular fixture, as the sun miraculously appeared for just an hour to shine on the parade to mark the Tenterden Folk Festival. (It should be said that sunshine is not a regular feature, as we regulars reminisced about the biblical cold rain that appeared two years ago.)

Those who run the Festival have developed a marvellous balance between showcasing the best English traditional music and allowing the audience to experience some new acts from overseas. The heart of the Festival is a desire to make sure we stay in contact with our own roots.

There is so much music instantly available from all over the world that it is possible for the English folk tradition to be drowned out. This would be especially ironic as we find that many of the basic songs of, for example, the American blues tradition are themselves adaptations of old English songs which sailors took over the Atlantic. I was intrigued to be told that The House of the Rising Sun is essentially an English song. The Tenterden Folk Festival is one small effort to make sure that we don’t lose our own traditions, and whatever your musical taste it is worth applauding.