HANDS Off Our Forest is organising a celebratory party at Speech House, and everyone is invited to let their hair down and cheer the campaign’s victory.

Musicians and entertainers, who rallied to the cause of keeping our Forest in public ownership, will be singing songs – many inspired by the great HOOF battle – with a little poetry and comedy also included. It’s hoped that everything from brass to lively acoustic music will help create a party atmosphere.

Entry to the HOOF Celebration, on Saturday July 28 from 5pm onwards, in the Speech House marquee, is free. There will be a hog roast and full bar (there will be a charge for food and drink).

Musical acts Bob Smith, Asha Faria-Vare, Max, Gorg n Zola, Cosmo, Muddy Summers, Mike Edwards and the lively trio Folklaw will take turns in performing, and Forest raconteur Keith Morgan will do a spot of poetry and comedy. Forest of Dean Brass, who so memorably led the procession through the Cyril Hart Arboretum at the winter rally in 2011, will perform at 6.30pm. Each act will perform songs – many self-penned – inspired by the HOOF campaign.

Viv Hargreaves, the editor of The Forester, who launched HOOF in late October 2010 and designed its distinctive oak-leaf logo, will welcome people to the celebration. There will also be short addresses from HOOF chair Rich Daniels, Baroness Jan Royall of Blaisdon, and Forestry Commissioner Sir Harry Studholme, who was a member of the Independent Panel for Forestry which recently produced a report. Sir Harry, Rich Daniels and Baroness Royall will be on hand to answer any questions people might have about the report, the extent of HOOF’s victory and the way ahead for the campaign.

“The Government has confirmed our Forest will stay in public ownership – so we have won a major part of our battle,” said Rich. “We all need to let our hair down and have a good time after a long time campaigning.

“So we’ve organised this party event as a thank-you to everyone who raised their voices and banners, signed petitions and wrote letters, which ensured our voices were eventually heard.

“However, HOOF’s work is not yet done, as we also have to ensure our Forest is managed publicly in the future and the Government resource it properly, and also to secure permanent protection for our Forest.

So while most of this event is a chance to party and congratulate ourselves on what we’ve achieved, we’ll also be explaining and having a short debate about what we still need to do. “We had a lot of help from musicians at our historic rally at Speech House, and also producing a compilation CD called Hands Off – while others helped with fundraising events and were inspired to write songs, and we’re really chuffed most of them can make it to the victory party.

“I reckon it’ll be a great party and I hope people will join us and have a good time. Everyone helped to make this happen, so let’s raise a mighty Forest cheer!”

Cinderford’s Triangle FM is providing the sound system. HOOF is also calling for feedback on the panel’s report, which can be accessed from the website www.handsoffourforest.org. People can either comment publicly on the website, or privately via email. See the website for details.

The programme:
5pm – doors open
5.30pm – welcome from Viv Hargreaves
5.35pm – Bob Smith
5.45 pm – Rich Daniels
5.50pm – Sir Harry Studholme
6.00 pm – Baroness Jan Royall
6.05 pm – Q&A
6.20  pm – Award presentation by Rich Daniels
6.30pm – Forest of Dean Brass
7.10pm – Asha Faria-Vare
7.25pm – Max
7.40pm – Gorg n Zola
7.55pm – Keith Morgan
8.10pm – Muddy Summers
8.25pm – Cosmo
8.40pm – Mike Edwards
9pm – Folklaw

NOTES:
•    Hands Off Our Forest (HOOF) is a broad alliance of people in the Forest of Dean which is campaigning to keep our Forest publicly owned and run by the Forestry Commission. See www.handsoffourforest.org for details.
•    The Independent Panel for Forestry was appointed by the Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman in the wake of the Government’s U-turn on February 17, 2011. It visited the Forest of Dean, and other forests, to consult and gather evidence. It published its final report into the future of forestry on July 4, 2012. While Mrs Spelman has confirmed our Forest (and others across England) will remain in public ownership, the Government is considering the report and will formally respond in January, 2013.

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