A pair of University of Chester employees will have their work showcased on national television this month, as a short film they produced will air on satellite and digital network the “Community Channel”.
The film highlights the many festivities and activities on offer at last year’s Blacon Festival, all staged by members of the local community, with interviews from visitors, volunteers and organisers from the yearly event.
Left to right back row: Lee Bennett, Alan Smith, & Becky- Maitland-Titterton (University of Chester) Reggie Jones( BCT) Alison Whitehead & Andy Keelan Avenue services. Middle: Gus Cairns BCT, Rachel Bentham(Avenue services) Gerald Watts. Home watch coordinator. And the Children from Dee point who will ride their scooters in this year’s coming festival.
It was put together by Alan Smith and Lee Bennett, both technicians in the University’s Learning and Information Services department, who volunteered over 100 hours of free time to document the annual festival. Although it has been running for over a decade, the festival has never been officially recorded on film so, Alan, felt it was time to do so.
Alan and Lee received recognition for their filming through the University’s Volunteer Scheme. Support and Guidance department, which offers assistance with volunteering work for both students and staff. With help from Becky Maitland-Titterton, a Volunteer Centre Co-ordinator at the University, Alan and Lee put in time to create the short piece celebrating the local tradition.
After completing the project, Lee contacted Community Channel to see if their work was something that could be used. They showed great interest and the film will now be aired on June 4th as part of the series, “UK360”, a show presented by Kirsten O’Brien which provides reports of local interest from around the country, using both professional journalists and community reporters.
Lee said: “I am very interested in film-making and when Alan suggested the idea, I saw it as a great opportunity to make a short film and hopefully get my work out there. It also helps to promote a great event that we have in Blacon.”
Alan said: “I’m a trustee at the Blacon Community Trust (BCT) and so I’m involved in a lot of projects around the area. The festival has been running for 11 years but has never had any kind of professional-style video made. As I knew Lee had his own camera and was interested in creating something, I approached him about shooting a short piece about it. It was a great opportunity to film the festival and we were both delighted when the Community Channel agreed to show the film.”
Alan’s involvement does not stop there, however, as he is a vital link between the University and its surrounding community through his selfless work with the BCT. He has attended the group meetings which have organised the Blacon Jubilee Picnic Lunch – to take place at Blacon Old Station on Sunday June 3rd, from 12:00pm to 3:00pm and is open to the general public – and has contributed greatly to Vintage Blacon, a social, faith-based group for elderly members of the community.
Alan explained: “With help from Becky and Sarah Vaughan at the University, we secured a donation of £1000 through the Santander Community Project Fund. This meant we have been able to create a garden for Vintage Blacon, where their members can spend time planting flowers, or sitting to enjoy the scenery. Work will start on the project in June.”
Vintage Blacon started a film club for the over 55’s last year, since then I have helped install a big screen, and a projector and will soon be adding a sound system for them to watch movies in the Blacon URC Church Hall.”
The University has also created a link with the BCT through its Eco Home initiative, where Geography students are able to use its facilities for working on ecological projects.
Alan and Lee’s film will be airing on UK360, on the Community Channel - Sky 539, Virgin Media 233 and Freeview 87 - on June 4th, at 7am and 7pm.
The 2012 Blacon Festival will be taking place on July 7th, at Blacon High School
Children from Dee point school will ride their scooters at the start of the parade.
Alan and Lee’s film can be seen either at their official website; www.blacon.org.uk, or on Lee’s YouTube Channel, www.youtube.com/LJBVideoProductions
You can also get more information about this year’s Blacon Festival at www.avenue-services.com