Music festival in memory of Chesterfield man Mark Russell will raise funds for mental health charity Andy's Man Club
Working towards ending the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, Andy’s Man Club will hold its first Derbyshire meeting at Chesterfield Football Club on Monday, July 3. Participants will be able to talk in a safe, non-judgemental and confidential environment.
Music festival RussFest is dedicated to Mark Russell, who lived in Chesterfield and took his own life four years ago.
Rachel Williamson, co-organiser, said: “RussFest came about due to lockdown! It was my partner Russ Jakubiak’s 40th birthday, we couldn’t travel or go abroad so I suggested that we do a mini music festival; we had so many friends who were in the arts industry, in particular musicians, that had struggled and at that time to even play a gig, this led to us having the opportunity to do an outdoor event. It was all going well, but when we wrote our guest list, it was so prominent that Mark Russell our good friend, wasn’t going to be there; this was because a few months prior (November 2019) he had sadly taken his own life.
"Knowing that and realising that we could use the festival as a platform, we decided to dedicate it to his memory and raise money and awareness of mental health charities in particular those for men. There was born RussFest raising money and awareness of men’s mental health charities.”
Russ and Rachel ran two festivals at the Dronfield Woodhouse Sports and Social Club. Rachel said: “Whilst it’s a great venue, and they were amazing hosts, this year we have relocated. We are now managers in The Holme Hall Inn, in Chesterfield, so it made sense, that this year we hold it there, it’s also very poignant as Mark Russell is from Chesterfield and it would have been his 40th birthday, so this year is particularly special.
“Added to that, the charity we support, Andy’s Man Club, is opening a new group in Chesterfield on July 3. Representatives from AMC will be at RussFest promoting the new group and talking about the work they do. AMC was born under similar circumstances to RussFest and is now one of the leading lights in helping men to talk and hopefully preventing suicide.”
Dan Rowe, regional co-ordinator for Andy's Man Club, said: “Our overall aim is to have an Andy’s Man Club within half an hour of every location in the UK. We’re at 130 clubs at this moment in time, we reckon we need 1300 clubs for that to be a reality. The closest club to Chesterfield is Sheffield. We have a number of guys that travel from Chesterfield to the Sheffield club and they are proud to be associated so they are really keen to bring it to their home town of Chesterfield. This will be the first Andy’s Man Club in Derbyshire. We’re really excited to get this off the ground.”
The weekly club will be held on Monday nights from 7pm until 9pm, apart from bank holidays. Dan said: “The guys don’t need to book, don’t need to tell us they’re coming...all they need to do is turn up. It’s a safe, non-judgemental space among supportive men who will originally be strangers but hopefully will become friends. It’s a place where guys can tell each other what challenges they are going through. There will be no-one giving out advice or telling them what to do.”
As well as finding out about the launch of Andy’s Man Club in Chesterfield, the crowds at RussFest will have a wealth of music to listen to.
Rachel said: “RussFest this year will be the best yet, we have a mixture of local and national talent, with bands travelling from Newcastle, Manchester and Leicester to play for us. An incredible eclectic mix of genres from reggae to rock and even a Gospel choir! We are lucky to be able to have two stages, a main stage and an acoustic stage.”
Sheffield Community Choir, who recently featured on Britain’s Got Talent, will be among the acts performing.
Other artists on the main stage will include: indie band Capes, who will open the show; Arkanian, a young indie rock band; singer-songwriters Leah Willcox and Luke Wall; nine-piece reggae band RuffTrade; Eighties covers band Groundhog Days; rock band To Nowhere; blues/rock singer Eddie Huntley and indie band Of All People.
Main stage headliners Billobuckers, who were Mark Russell’s favourite band, will perform original music and some Arctic Monkeys classics to round off RussFest.
Local musicians who will perform on the acoustic stage are: Laura Beresford, Melissa, Brooke Rampersaud, Sophie Lane, Stuart Rickards and Mark Morgan Hill,
Rachel said: “There is lots of entertainment throughout the day for children, bouncy castle and magician.
”As we are on the same day as Ashgate Hospice Sparkle Walk, Pretty Sins, who are doing the festival glitter are offering free glitter faces to any person taking part who comes to RussFest.”