Rock legend's village fears

A VETERAN rock musician spearheading a community fund-raising bid has criticised politicians and other decision-makers makers for eroding village life.

A VETERAN rock musician spearheading a community fund-raising bid has criticised politicians and other decision-makers makers for eroding village life.

Rick Wakeman, legendary keyboard player with the band YES , and now a resident of Scole on the Suffolk-Norfolk border, explained the reason he took a lead role in organising a week-long festival to support local churches.

Mr Wakeman, 57, who is a neighbour of the rector of Scole, Rev Trevor Riess, and has appeared on the television show, Grumpy Old Men, said he had lived mainly in rural areas since 1971.

“I have watched what I consider to be essential to village life slowly be eroded by decisions made by people who have no idea what they are doing to small communities”, he said.

“Village shops are disappearing fast, recreational land and village halls vanishing and now their next target is rural post offices.

“Bus services in many areas have disappeared as well - so what we have left we have to fight for.

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“Regardless of whether you have a faith or not, everybody loves to see a church in a community. It has a feelgood factor as well as being a service to the community.

“The church is trying really hard to open up these wonderful buildings for other uses - anything from an art exhibition to yoga classes, folk clubs to concerts.

“I have done a lot of church concerts over the years and I feel it is important to do what we can to help as in the long run it's not just helping the churches but the communities as well, and as I live in a small community I know how important that is,” Mr Wakeman said.

He and his son, Adam, also an outstanding musician, are taking part this week in The 4 Churches Festival which aims to raise money for the Waveney Valley churches of Scole, Billingford, Thorpe Abbotts and Brockdish.

The line-up of performers includes comedians Don Maclean, Jimmy Cricket and Syd Little, former Dads' Army actor, Ian Lavender, opera singer Ramon Ramedios and the English Chamber Choir.

Mr Wakeman said he would do at least one more tour with YES next year and would continue his television and radio work but was keen to find more time to be at home and to write and record.

“I am so happy around here. My partner, Rachel, and I do not like going away,” he said.

It was announced yesterday that Mr Wakeman and his vocalist colleague, Jon Anderson, would be performing an evening of classic rock at Ipswich's Regent Theatre on October 22.

Mr Wakeman's involvement in the festival has been praised by David Case, spokesman for the organisers, who said the rock musician had acted “out of the goodness of his heart”.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

Rick Wakeman Factfile

1949 born in Middlesex

1954 commenced piano lessons and eventually achieved all eight grades of the Associated Board of Music

1967 entered Royal College of Music to study piano, clarinet, modern music and composition

1970 joined The Strawbs

1971 joined YES

1967 - 2006 produced 116 solo albums

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