Pupils aged six to 17, from ten different schools, were rehearsing for a protest performance
to be staged at Ouseday raft race and regatta on Sunday July 1.
This year’s 43 rd annual raft race from Lewes to Newhaven will be themed Rock the Boat to
support pupils whose lessons will be ended from next year under proposed cuts to the East
Sussex Music Service.
Ouseday organisers expect rafts to be decorated for the theme and young musicians are
being invited to bring instruments from accordions to zithers to make one mass musical
“shout out” at the start of the regatta at Malling Recreation Ground in Lewes.
A small orchestra clambered aboard a boat at Lewes Rowing Club this week after playing at
the service’s Saturday Music School.
Teacher Jane Humberstone, one of the service managers and union rep, said: “These
children all learned through lessons at school and have become good enough to enjoy
playing at the weekend. The proposed cuts will end lessons for 3,000 primary and secondary
pupils and axe the jobs of 70 teachers. We all want the county council to change their mind
but either way, young musicians are going to need all the help they can get in East Sussex,
so thank you Ouseday.”
A spokesman said: “Ouseday is an event for the whole community, and we all need music in
our lives. If you are a young musician, whether you play the triangle, the trumpet, the
guitar, the banjo or the bassoon, we invite you to come bang the drum for music at
Ouseday. It will be brief, perhaps one tune, but it will be loud! Please follow details which
will be published at the website, Ouseday.com.”
Ouseday will be held on Sunday July 1, with events at Malling Recreation Ground in Lewes
and at Huggets Green in Newhaven. The Round Table charity raft race is the main race in
the regatta, which opens with a boat parade ay 1.30pm and includes canoe races, a seven-
mile rowing race that pitches Lewes versus Newhaven, and a raft sprint through the town
for the bonfire societies.
Money raised will go to the Martlets Music charity, based in Lewes, which was launched to
support the county music service, and to Starfish Studios group, which provides facilities
and equipment for young bands and other musicians.
Martlets chairman Nigel Philips said: “We are grateful to Ouseday and the raft race
organisers because we expect to be more needed than ever. We support the young
musicians in various ways, including the awarding of bursaries.”
At Starfish, Steve Franklin said: “It is great just to have support from a community event like
Ouseday. We will bring a stage and help Rock the Boat!”
Ouseday is free of charge for all spectators, thanks to costs being covered by sponsors. Main
sponsors, for the second year running, are Oakley Property, where executive chairman Chris
Oakley said: “All our lives would be impoverished without music, whether pop, rap, rock,
orchestral or opera. I am sure everyone will agree this is a cause we can all support.”
At fellow sponsors Lawson Lewis Blakers solicitors, Jeremy Sogno, said: “We are delighted to
be supporting young musicians, who give time and commitment to learning how to play
their instruments and enrich all our lives."
Ouseday will also be supporting A Band of Brothers, which mentors young men in crisis.
They entered a raft last year and later some crew described the race as “the best experience
of our lives”.
Ouseday will start with the opening parade at around 1.30pm and the raft race will start
from Wiley’s Bridge near Tesco store at high tide at 3pm. Full details are on the website:
Ouseday.com. There is still time for late entries to the raft race by requesting an entry form
via the website.
Ouseday is run by Riffrafters, formed in 2015 to revive the Round Table raft race and formed
by members of Round Table, Lewes Rowing Club, Newhaven Gig Club and both Lewes and
Newhaven Town Councils. Up to 500 people will take part in the races, with safety crews
managed by Trevor Cutler, station officer for Newhaven Marine Coastguard.
Trevor, from Cutts Marine, Newhaven, said: “This is my first year in charge on water but I
took part in the raft race as a youngster, so it is an honour to be now making sure more
young people can enjoy an event that is great fun and does a lot of good for our community,
including our young musicians – we all love a good tune!”
On board Wil Wilson’s fishing boat are: BHASVIC pupil Heather Owolabi, aged 16, flute; Gina Owolabi, 13, violin, Ringmer Academy; James West, 13, flute and recorder, Priory School; Julian Falkowski, seven, and Zofia Falkowski, 11, from Iford and Kingston; James Wilson, ten, violin, Harbour Primary; Brian Wilson, five, violin, Harbour; Thomas Fowler, 13, drums, violin and keyboards, Seahaven Academy; Louis Fisher, 16, saxophone, BHASVIC; Tom Van Howe, 16, sax, Priory; Maya Biddulph, 17, violin, Varndean; Miranda Raffo, 16, sax, Priory; Georgia Bickley, seven, violin, South Malling; Olive Reeves, eight, cello, South Malling; Jack Humberstone, 13, trombone,Willingdon Community College. Esme Parsons, six, violin.
Same children, also Esme Parsons, six, violin, LOGS, and teachers Jane Humberstone , cornet, and Malcolm Warnes, trumpet.
PHOTOS: JOHN RIGBY