Category Archives: Babbacombe Festival

Midsummer Fun in the Babbacombe Festival Marquee

For the 8th consecutive June the stunning Babbacombe Festival Marquee will take its place on Babbacombe Downs and open its doors for five days of great entertainment. This year there will be an opening night party with local band, 3 Bags Full, entertaining the crowds to get everyone in a Festival mood. As always, there’s something for everyone as the five days unfold. Daytime activities include a look at the local area during World War 2 in a special event on the Thursday entitled “Babbacombe, The War Years”. There’s a scrumptious Devon Cream Tea in aid of CLIC Sargent on the Friday and Saturday 21 June will be celebrating all things Armed Forces with the Torbay Armed Forces Day on Babbacombe Downs and in the Marquee. Featuring all sorts of exhibits, surprises and some wonderful nostalgic “Concert Party” style entertainment this is a real family day out.

 Babbacombe Festival Marquee Fun

Evening events include the ever-popular Oompah Night and this year on midsummer night, Saturday 21 June, the Midsummer Festival Funk Party will take place raising funds in aid of Rowcroft. With live music from great band, Funkty Dumpty, and some disco classics, the dance floor is sure to be full all evening. Tickets for both these events are available to buy at One of the Festival Marquee organisers, Nicky Allen, said “We’re delighted with the selection of events we have in the marquee this year. Our aim is to make the most of the marquee for the few days that it’s up and the way to do this is to provide events and entertainment that people want to be a part of. Our line-up includes some events that we have year after year as well as some new additions to keep everything fresh.” She added “Whilst the Marquee itself is pretty spectacular, so is the location. Babbacombe Downs is a very special place and we hope that lots of people will come along while the marquee is up and enjoy the great atmosphere created by this unique combination of venue, location, music, food & drink and, most importantly, people.”

Many of the events in the marquee are raising money for charity and the finale event is no exception. Sunday 22 June sees the annual Hanbury’s Fish and Chips Music Day take over the marquee, in aid of the Torbay Holiday Helpers Network (THHN). Starting at midday with live entertainment throughout from bands such as The Land of the Giants, The Stone Angels and ending on a high with headline act Mama Stone’s House Band.

Live music on stage

For information and tickets visit or get along to the Marquee Facebook page, new for this year, at

Huge Marquee Helps Raise Huge Sums For Charity at the 2013 Babbacombe Festival

The 2013 Babbacombe Festival Marquee which was filled with fun, laughter, good food and drink, along with music and dancing for five days is now just a memory but its legacy carries on having helped raise over £11,500 for charity.  The Babbacombe Festival Marquee is hired and kitted out by Martyn Strange, owner of the Babbacombe Inn.

Martyn said “Bringing the Festival Marquee to Babbacombe Downs is a lot of work but also enormous fun and a very satisfying experience.  We now work with a number of local groups and businesses, as well as Torbay Council, and together put on five days of great entertainment in the hope that locals and holidaymakers will come and enjoy themselves. We believe that the mix on offer provides something for everyone. The aim is to present a selection of events that ensures we can cover the substantial costs of putting such a marquee up as well as some that can then raise a significant amount of money for various charities.  I believe it’s now an important fixture on the calendar of most people in Babbacombe and the surrounding area and I hope it’s something that we can continue to provide.”

BF2013 Funkty Dumpty at the Palm Party Night (Gemma Cooper)

The charities that benefited from the Festival Marquee this year include £7360 raised by the Torbay Holiday Helpers Network (THHN), £1030 raised by June and Bryan Batchelor and their team of cream tea helpers for CLIC Sargent and Rotary raised £2500 for Children in Need at their Proms Night and gave a further £800 to Help for Heroes from money raised from their fabulous BBQ in the marquee which did particularly well on Armed Forces Day feeding the hungry hoards.

BF2013 Marching on Armed Forces Day (Gemma Cooper)

Luke Tillen, founder and Chairman of the THHN said “To have raised over £7000 during the Festival is absolutely fantastic.  This figure is the result of all sorts of fundraising, donations and some wonderful sponsorship from lots of people including Babbacombe Garage, WBW Solicitors, Riviera Mortgages and South West Water and, of course, David Hanbury who made us the chosen charity for his wonderful Fish and Chips on the Downs Music Day.”  Luke added “I was actually away for a lot of this year’s events as I was doing a bit of fundraising of my own running an ultra-marathon in Cumbria so the lion’s share of the work was done by our fantastic Fundraising Manager, Brilliant Brian Lewis.  Brian worked tirelessly to organise all the details, he attended all of the events and without him there’s no way we would have raised anything like that amount of money.  He was also at all the events talking to people and explaining what the THHN does which is so vital for us.  Obviously Brian was helped by a wonderful band of volunteers who I am incredibly grateful to.”

BF2013 - Crowds enjoying the air display on Armed Forces Day (Gemma Cooper)

The five days of events started with the traditional Rotary Fayre up on Babbacombe Downs when the marquee was used as the Refreshment Tent. The Rotary Fayre on the Downs is of course another event that enables lots of groups to raise money for their own causes with totals reaching over £20,000 each year.  A wildlife presentation was given by award-winning film-maker Andrew Cooper on the Wednesday evening. Thursday saw the marquee filled with an exhibition by the Babbacombe and St Marychurch Local History Society where visitors were given the opportunity to delve into their family history with help from the Devon Family History Society.  Thursday evening and the marquee was once again used by Babbacombe and St Marychurch Rotary who hosted their fabulous Proms Evening.  Friday and the marquee was filled with people enjoying a delicious cream tea until the marquee was transformed into the venue for a traditional German Oompah Night with some great entertainment and yodelling competitions to boot! Saturday was the ever-popular Armed Forces Day.  The weather was a little damp but spirits certainly weren’t.  Thousands turned out to cheer the Veterans’ Parade, wander around the stalls and soak up the atmosphere.  HMS Brocklesby was anchored in the bay and 300 people got tickets to sail out and tour the ship whilst it was visiting. Many of the crew were able to come ashore and meet the public as well as attend the Party Night that was put on in the Marquee on the Saturday evening.  Every member of the crew was also treated to takeaway fish and chips, courtesy of David Hanbury, who had meals, literally, shipped out much to their delight.

BF2013 - Getting the boat out to visit HMS Brocklesby (Gemma Cooper)

It was then fish and chips all the way on the Sunday with the Hanbury’s Fish and Chips Music Festival on the Downs bringing this busy five days to a close.  David said “I can’t thank everyone involved enough.  From all the bands and performers who ensured we had constant entertainment for 10 hours, to all my wonderful staff who worked so incredibly hard as well as every single person who came along, bought fish and chips and made the day such a success.”

BF2013 - Hand's up for Hanbury's (Gemma Cooper)

If you were at any of this year’s Festival events go to where there is now an on-line gallery and who knows, you might just see yourself on there.  For those who didn’t attend, have a look anyway and see what you missed.

For now, it’s back to the day jobs for all those involved.  Martyn said “We are already talking about next year.  Babbacombe Downs is a very important place to all of us involved with the Festival Marquee and ensuring that we put on events that have wide appeal and are safe and fun for all concerned is vitally important to us.  We hope to bring everyone a great line-up in 2014 but, for now, watch this space!”

All photography used in this article is by Gemma Cooper.

Hanbury’s Music Festival Drums Up Support

The much-loved annual Hanbury’s Fish and Chips on the Downs Music Festival will take place up on Babbacombe Downs in the Festival Marquee on Sunday 23 June and it’s all set to be a cracking event with an incredible line-up of live entertainment.  The event is in aid of local charity the Torbay Holiday Helpers Network (THHN) and a number of local businesses have come on board to help make the event a roaring success.

WBW Solicitors have come on board as major sponsors to help with the event this year. Steve Bulman, Managing Partner of WBW said “WBW Solicitors are delighted to be involved with The Hanbury’s Fish and Chips on the Downs Music Festival. This is our first time doing so and especially apt given the firm’s increasing presence in the Torbay area with the merging with Bynes Solicitors earlier in the year, bringing together two long-established firms who offer a full range of legal services to current and future clients.  Supporting select local initiatives is central to a wider programme of community engagement for WBW Solicitors and we are delighted to be working alongside local business such as Hanbury’s in support of charitable initiatives.”

Another local business, Riviera Mortgages, has also helped contribute towards the event. Managing Director Colin Tucker said ”I’ve known Luke for years, we are a similar age, both from Torquay and have mutual friends. I recently bumped into Luke as our sons go the same primary school.  Having not seen him for some time I was impressed to hear all about his charity and the amazing work that it does. Riviera Mortgages is a local company and being able to support such a great local charity in this way is something Riviera Mortgages is delighted to be able to do”. He added “As soon as Luke explained to me what THHN does I knew I wanted to get involved.”

Long-time THHN supporter Babbacombe Garage has also been very supportive again this year, along with South West Water and Paul Uphill and the Palace Hotel, Torquay to name a few.

David Hanbury, organiser of the event, said “It’s great that all these local businesses are supporting our day and the THHN.  It’s a wonderful charity that I’m delighted to support and the fact that so many others are too proves what great work it’s doing.  We can’t thank them enough.  All we need now is for lots of people to come along to the day and enjoy themselves.  Hopefully it will be a great opportunity to raise awareness of the day as well as plenty of money to help towards Luke’s bungalow project which is a fabulous idea.” He added “We’ve got a great line-up of entertainment from 12 noon through until the evening including Gary Nock (THHN’s celebrity ambassador), Lucky Guy & The Chancers and the Simmertones.  With excellent food and a lovely atmosphere we’re hoping for a fantastic end to this year’s Babbacombe Festival.”

Details of all this year’s Marquee events can be found at whilst the full Festival line up is at

Wildlife in the Marquee

Local, award-winning wildlife film-maker Andrew Cooper will be entertaining Festival-goers on Wednesday 19 June at 7.30pm with his entertaining evening entitled “Around the World in 80 BBC Wildlife Films”. Organisers of the Babbacombe Festival Marquee events have booked Andrew to provide the perfect way to spend a Wednesday evening.

Andrew Cooper is one of Britain’s most distinguished and influential television producers.  As a broadcaster, presenter, writer and international award winning wildlife film-maker, he is a familiar face on BBC television through his documentaries and live reports on wildlife and environment issues.  A biologist by training and described as a ‘top class speaker’ by the editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine, it is his work as a television producer with the BBC National History Unit based in Bristol, for which he is best known.

Andrew has been responsible for some of the most distinctive programming in the internationally renowned BBC ‘Natural World’ strand.  His programmes regularly feature in the top ten most watched television documentaries in Britain and are widely sold overseas.  Andrew is also a best selling author of nine books.

Andrew Cooper and whooper swan Iceland 1

Nicky Allen, one of the event organisers, said “We knew about Andrew’s work and thought that it would be lovely to have him present an evening in the marquee.  After chatting to Andrew we decided on a presentation of his entitled ‘Around the World in 80 BBC Wildlife Films’ which I know has proved popular elsewhere.  We were looking for something a bit different for this mid-week event and we’re sure that this will capture the imagination of our guests.”

Tickets for this event are just £7 per person and are available to buy in person from the The Downs Newsagency on Babbacombe Road, via the website or by phoning 07977 535563.  Tickets will also be available on the door on the night.

The marquee will be up and buzzing from Wednesday 19 June through to Sunday 23 June and will be home to all sorts of community, fundraising and party events whilst it’s there.  Full details of all the Babbacombe Festival events can be found at with marquee event listings at

Who’s behind that bar?

Babbacombe Inn barman Lee Pritchard got more than he bargained for last week when he was mistaken for the real Al Murray, Pub Landlord.  Lee was working on the outside bar that the Babbacombe Inn was running at Babbacombe Theatre that night.  Shortly after they’d set up Lee, who was dressed in an Al Murray style, sporting hair that had been cut as short as was possible, along with a white shirt and burgundy waistcoat (borrowed from Babbacombe Cliff Railway), was busy getting things organised when passers by stopped to talk to him.  Lee said “I didn’t think I looked that much like the real Al but people were asking if I always run a bar before the show and then go on stage to do the actual show.  I couldn’t believe it.  Some people were even taking photos of me.”

Lee on duty at the bar

Babbacombe Theatre doesn’t have a bar and, with the Al Murray, Pub Landlord show coming to town, the Theatre and the Babbacombe Inn got together and decided to put a temporary one outside.  Martyn Strange, owner of the Babbacombe Inn, said “We’re all big fans of Al Murray and bought our tickets for the show ages ago.  Then, we suddenly thought about the lack of bar and it just didn’t seem right so we came up with the idea of a small mobile bar out the front.  Our colleagues at Fosters got some ‘Al’s bar’ signs made for a bit of fun and Lee offered to take on the role of Trainee Al.  It went down really well with the crowds.  Unfortunately, Al himself was caught up in traffic after the water pipe burst in Newton Abbot so was running a bit late and never got to see what we’d been up to.  Hopefully he would have approved.”

"Al's Bar" outside Babbacombe Theatre

Weather on the night was pretty awful and the whole crew got fairly soaked serving and packing up afterwards so Lee’s quite happy now to be back in the warm embrace of the Babbacombe Inn.  Should you wish to catch him, he’ll be there all week!