A COUNTY music festival which switched to an online format because of social distancing measures has raised more than £13,000 for charity.

Woo Fest, which was streamed live to homes and gardens around Worcestershire on Saturday, featured a mix of live and pre-recorded sets from big-name performers including Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Grant Nicholas, from Feeder, and Toyah Willcox as well as local acts.

The free-to-view festival has raised £13,245.57 for St Richard’s Hospice in Worcester, with music-lovers donating as they watched.

Luke Simons, festival organiser, said: “We’ve been blown away by everyone’s response to a virtual festival here in Worcestershire. We had 92 individual musicians in 24 sets - across a range of genres - keen to give our wonderful county a brilliant day and support the care St Richard’s provides locally at the same time.


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“And the production on the day was absolutely incredible; all thanks to our friends at creative communication agency DRPG, who streamed the event live from their local studios.

“Selfies and messages were flying in from homes and gardens across Worcestershire – and we had people watching across Europe, America, Africa and Australia – so it was fantastic to see everyone having a great time while digging deep for this amazing local charity too.”

Sophie Ellis-Bextor was performing in her kitchen with a glitter ball, full-on sequins and five kids at home in lockdown.

The audience took to Twitter and said she was "absolutely incredible."

The family-friendly festival was set up in 2015 by Luke and his sister, Ria, in memory of their dad, John.

Since its launch, Woo Fest has raised more than £70,000 for St Richard’s, which cares for patients and their loved ones facing serious progressive illnesses.

Tricia Cavell, fundraising director for St Richard’s Hospice, said: “With our mass participation fundraising events cancelled this summer, it’s a tricky time for charities like us and we need to think of innovative ways to fund our care.

“You can’t get much more innovative than running a music festival for supporters in their own homes.

Anyone who didn’t get chance to donate to Virtual Woo Fest, and support St Richard’s work locally, or who would like to donate again, can give online at http://strichards.org.uk/virtualwoo or can text CARE to 70140 to donate £10.