Apulstock festival held in Barnham for first time

Two revellers at this year's Apulstock festival which returned for its eighth year on Saturday (August 18). Photograph: Kate Shemilt (ks180403-4)
Two revellers at this year's Apulstock festival which returned for its eighth year on Saturday (August 18). Photograph: Kate Shemilt (ks180403-4)

It was a year of firsts for the Apulstock festival – it was the first time with two stages and the first time it had called Barnham its home.

The not-for-profit, volunteer-run event, a celebration of music, community and equality aimed at those with learning disabilities and their families, ran at Barnham Community Hall on Saturday (August 18) with the theme the ‘Year of the Superhero’.

Festival director Alex Fryer, 36, said it was a ‘successful’ day. “It was a really good fun day. It was nice and safe. It really is just about bringing people together,” he said.

Alex, who is the manager of a day centre in Chichester for people with autistic spectrum conditions, added: “It’s a bit of magic. I’ll always do it whatever happens.”

Around 20 acts – not just musical – took to the stages for free to help hundreds of guests get in the festival spirit. That included Worthing-based band The Hawkmen, Chichester’s Fitjoy Zumba and Devon-based group The Rockeries.

A highlight for Alex was seeing lead vocalist of The Hawkmen, James Manley-Bird, go out to talk to the audience, pose for photographs and give high fives after his set and seeing the joy it brought. “That’s the real value of it,” he said.

Alex started the festival in 2011 while working at the Apuldram Centre, in Chichester, and it was also held there in 2012, 2015 and 2016. Church Farm, Bosham, was home to the event in 2013 and 2014, and last year it ran at The Fishbourne Centre.

“It really just started from wanting to do something fun and to get to know people,” said Alex.

Guest numbers are kept low to ensure the event is not overwhelming. “It’s not about getting bigger – it’ll always be 500 people max. It’s about getting better – what will be fun, what is going to make people happy, what’s going to make people smile,” said Alex.

He added that he would like to thank all those who gave up their time for this year’s event – Airtight Studios, Arbus Fencing, South Downs Water, Thunder Audio, Steve Flynn Media, Linette Mynott, Matt Douglas Music, Steve Masters, Spirit FM and Barnham Community Hall.

The 2019 event is set to run at Barnham Community Hall on July 20. For more details on the festival, see www.apulstock.co.uk