The following cash prize awards are introduced:

• Coral Gould Award. This award has been transferred to Newcastle Festival following discontinuation of the Biddulph Festival. £50 to be awarded to the most promising singer under 16 years of age.  Some changes have been made to the age limits in the vocal classes affected to accommodate this award.

• George Finney Award. VC 189 Youth Choral - Songs from the Shows - 19 years and under. Again transferred from Biddulph to Newcastle. Each competing choir gets £100 bursary.

• Barracks Trust Award. VC 191 Adult Choir of any category - Own Choice. Cash prizes, donated by The Barracks Trust, of £200, £100 and £50 will be awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Other new classes are introduced for the 2017 festival:

Speech and Drama

• SD 37. Duologue 7 years and under – Own Choice. To avoid very young children competing with much older children.

• SD 54-1. Group Music Theatre - Open, Own Choice. Only ‘solo’ classes were available in previous years.


• VC 195. Pop - 18 years and under. - Own Choice.

Discontinued classes

With the expectation that a greater proportion of young players can use the grand piano and benefit from the specialist adjudicator, some of the senior and duet piano classes have been discontinued.



Having taken on the role of Chair of this Festival I have been made aware of all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes by many people. It is amazing that so many people get on with their job without being asked. Since some of our team members retired from the front of house positions last year they have continued to offer help elsewhere and I thank them most sincerely for that. When it seemed that we were going to be short of volunteers in some areas, others stepped in at the last minute. Such is the commitment of our team.

Our team this year has included new members who have played their part in another very successful Festival and we always need to encourage others to join us for its future success. We welcomed Ruth Steel and Sylvia Buckley as new Vice Presidents in order to keep our contacts with Stoke Music School.

In particular I must highlight the work done by our new Secretary who has spent many hours bringing us into the computer age and keeping us on our toes with regard to festival rules and regulations. Whilst computer systems and online entries may not be to everybody’s taste, we must acknowledge that it is the way of the world and young people have excellent knowledge of its benefits. The new system helped us produce our Syllabus and Programmes and whilst we had some teething problems I am sure that next year “all will be well”.

A new initiative this year was to include adverts in our programme. This was to try to bring in some extra finance and also promote activities that are taking place in our area. Whilst the take up was not huge I think it was worthwhile and I hope that it can continue in the future. I thank those who spent time in promoting this aspect of our work.

Our accompanists continue to do a sterling job. Not the easiest of jobs when music does not always appear at the right time and in the correct format. We thank them. For the 2017 festival we are making it a rule that the music is provided with the booking.

We were saddened to hear of the death of Neville Tostevin, of Tostevin Pianos, Hartshill, just before the Festival. He, with his family have been very faithful in supporting the festival over many years and the day after his funeral Roger Tostevin was continuing to give us over and above his call of duty in trying to make the pianos playable. We were, of course, very pleased that Mavis was able to present the Tostevin Trophy at the Festival and we are glad that she has accepted Life Membership of the Festival.


The Festival itself was enjoyed by both young and old. The number of entries was lower than the record year of 2015 in both Music and Speech and Drama however.

The Adjudicators continue to give excellent adjudications with good humour, encouragement and entertainment and the results for all show that the standard remains high.

Following suggestions from one adjudicator we are changing the format of the certificates for 2017 so that they are more in line with other music organisations and relate to scores that suggest performances of Honours, Distinction, and Merit.

Following our 2016 festival we have reviewed our classes. In our Music Festival we hope to attract adult choirs once more and we have amended some of our drama classes. Full details will follow in our syllabus.

2017 sees us moving to a new venue for the Music weekend with an agreement having been made with the Clayton Hall Academy for the use of their premises in a move that we believe will give us improved facilities.  The Academy is situated on the A519 at the junction of Clayton Road/ Clayton Lane, before junction 15 of the M6 as you leave Newcastle, and just under 2 miles from Newcastle under Lyme town centre.

The Clayton Hall Academy

Clayton Lane

Newcastle under Lyme


Speech and Drama will continue to be held at Newcastle College. We look forward to seeing you at both of these venues.

I sincerely thank all who have worked during the year to help me into my role and I am sure that together we can continue to build the Festival into one which shows the huge talents that we have in our area both in Speech and Drama and Music.