Bedford Park Festival Gets Under Way

Large crowds attend first of the Green Days on Saturday

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mr lad and richard briers
Mr Lad and Richard Briers

michael gambon
Michael Gambon

Pictures by Tom Doran
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There were large crowds at the first of the Green Days to see the beginning of the 45th Bedford Park Festival. Despite dark clouds and predictions of rain, it remained dry with even occasional glimpses of sunshine.

The proceedings kicked off with a special ceremony involving two of the area’s best-loved personalities.

Richard Briers, who has lived in the area for over 40 years, made a presentation to Mr Lad, who ran the newsagents on Bedford Corner for more than 30 years. He was given a painting (see below) of the shop by the Bedford Park Society’s president, Nigel Woolner. Mrs Lad expressed her delight at receiving the painting and thanked all the couple’s former customers. She said that she and her husband appreciated the community spirit they had felt during their many years running the shop at Bedford Corner.

bedford park corner nigel woolner

The newsagents closed just before Christmas, when its lease ran out. This was the first time Mr Lad, whose real name is Kishur Mistry, has returned to Chiswick.

In another farewell to Chiswick, the world-famous Rambert Dance Company performed on the festival stage, Rambert’s youth dancers, Quicksilver Dance, performed on the Green on the Saturday afternoon. The Company is leaving the area soon after being based here for 40 years.

And in Strictly Rambert, on Wednesday June 15th, the company’s artistic director, Mark Baldwin, will discuss its distinguished past, new repertoire and exciting future plans, with video clips.

Richard Briers then judged the children’s fancy dress competition at the Green Days fete, which attracts thousands of people each year with its mix of live music, children’s events, stalls, refreshments, Craft Fair and funfair. The crowds were well up to typical levels despite the uncertain weather and there was the usual scattering of well known faces including this year Michael Gambon, a regular visitor to the event.

On the Sunday, a church service on the Green is followed at noon by WorldBusk, aiming to beat the record for the world’s biggest combined busk.

Green Days weekend opens a fortnight of community and arts events in aid of charities and St Michael & All Angels Church, supported by dozens of local businesses. Events include comedy, opera, dance, concerts, exhibitions, talks and open gardens.

Another Chiswick star, West End diva Rosie Ashe, who’s appeared in Les Miserables, Mary Poppins and the original production of Phantom of the Opera, will sing her favourite songs from the world’s great musicals at the Tabard Theatre. She’ll be accompanied by Jonathan Cohen, from TV’s Play Away and Music Time.

Other stars of this year’s Festival include Covent Garden tenor Justin Lavender; poet and biographer Blake Morris; actor Dudley Sutton (best-known as Tinker in TV’s Lovejoy); and the London Tango Quintet. The vicar of St Michael’s, Father Kevin Morris, will take the title role in The Mikado, performed by one of the brightest young opera companies Opera Novella, featuring Sally-Ann Stephenson and other singers from the D’Oyly Carte.

Oscar-winner Colin Firth and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star Kevin McNally, who both live in Chiswick, are on the jury for a new film-making competition to encourage young talent. The winning films will be screened on the last night, as part of the Bedford Park Film Festival, featuring entertaining clips set in Chiswick.

“We’ve got a fantastic range of entertainment this year, with something for everyone” says Torin Douglas, the Festival co-ordinator. “And to encourage people to make a real fortnight of it, we’ve introduced a special offer – 10 per cent off, if you buy any 10 tickets for Festival events.”


June 13, 2011