Tributes to pump festival founder

Alan Briars

Alan Briars

First published in News by

TROWBRIDGE Village Pump festival organiser Alan Briars has died.

The 60-year-old musician, expert bowls player and horseracing enthusiast had cancer but never let it stand in the way of his passions.

Mr Briars, of Wingfield, played regular gigs up until the end. He died during a blood transfusion at the Dorothy House Hospice in Bradford on Avon. He had gone there for the treatment to give him the strength to do another gig a few days later.

That gig wasn't to be and he passed away peacefully on Sunday with his wife Christine by his side and much to his pleasure, on the back of a Bristol City FC win.

Mrs Briars, 48, said: "Things were going a bit wrong and he was lying down with his eyes closed. I thought he was close. We had the radio on with the Bristol City match on and they scored in the last minute. Suddenly, he jumped up and cheered and punched the air with his fist. He was Alan until the end."

Mr Briars was an accomplished bowls player and secretary of Holt Bowls Club, which celebrated the social side of bowls with a few drinks. He reached the national finals with the club, travelling to Worthing to contest the title.

Originally from Ringwood in Hampshire and later Frampton in Dorset, he was passionate about horseracing, which he inherited from his father. As his wife said: "He loved gambling on it, watching it and racing too."

The family has had three racehorses over the past five years and the first, Johnny Jumpup, named after a song he used to sing, enjoyed relative success.

He was perhaps best known for his music. He played in bands like Mechanical Horsetrough and later The Tinkers Cuss and The Laundry Yard Scrub Band.

He also set up the legendary folk festival, which he ran latterly with his best friend and fellow organiser Dave Newman, who died of cancer in 2005.

Last week the musician received an award from the Association of Festival Organisers for outstanding work for the festival scene.

The hugely popular Village Pump Festival started in the storeroom at the back of the local Trowbridge pub, The Lamb Inn.

It grew in popularity and moved to Stowford Manor Farm in 1980. Mr Briars created an impressive legacy that folk artists around the world have labelled "the best folk festival". The 35th festival takes place next year.

Mrs Briars said: "Many people were inspired by what Alan did with the festival. It was his centre. It's a fantastic legacy and he has put everything in place for it to continue. Alan got very impatient when people assumed the festival would end when he died. There are 7,000 fans that will carry it on and celebrate it in the future."

The funeral takes place on December 13 in Bradford on Avon and the CD Mr Briars produced to raised funds for Dorothy House will be on sale. Called Picture in a Frame' it is available from all Dorothy House shops.

He leaves behind his wife of 10 years Christine, his stepdaughter Sophie, 21, his mother Hilda and sister Hazel Mogford.

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