Rain and romance at Crown of Lights fest

Heckmondwike's Crown of Lights Festival 2014. (D564G428)
Heckmondwike's Crown of Lights Festival 2014. (D564G428)

Torrential downpours at Crown of Lights Festival, Heckmondwike, did not stop a couple getting engaged on the main stage.

Chris Hargreaves proposed to Mandy Docherty amid the crowds and music of the 12th annual ‘Heckyfest’.

“I’m not sure how it looked to other people but it was definitely a highlight of my day,” said Chris.

“It was certainly a bit nerve shredding to get up there, but it was worth it, we got a big cheer.”

Chris worked as a steward at the festival. He said it was a vital part of the town and a fantastic event.

The couple are hoping to get married next year.

Organiser Donal O’Driscoll said: “If it had been a stranger wanting to get up on stage and ask the question I might have been hesitant, but I’ve known Chris a while.”

Donal said the rain had cleared up by the afternoon and around 1,200 people came to watch throughout the day.

He said: “The rain came and went but everything was beautiful by 4pm, and everyone was determined to enjoy themselves. This is the first year we’ve had rain.

“It would be hard to pick a highlight because everything was at such a consistently high level that nothing stood out above the rest, but the tech team were great and the attitude of the crowd was incredible.”

But there may be trouble ahead as main sponsor Kirklees Council has given no assurances that it will be able to fund the event next year.

Donal said the festival was at the centre of music in North Kirklees.

“Crown of Lights re-ignited live music in the area. We saw new music in Dewsbury, Cleckheaton and Birstall and it was all thanks to the festival.

“It would be a shame for the whole surrounding area if Crown of Lights could not continue.”

He said it would have a knock-on effect on the Comrades Club, in Regent Street, where artists play to gain Heckyfest slots.

“There is a reduced incentive for artists to play the club if there is going to be no festival at the end of it,” he said.

Donal is looking for business sponsors to keep the festival going next year.

He said to charge an entrance fee would change the spirit of the festival.

“Some people are struggling to afford anything and it would change things if you’re suddenly asked to pay for something that used to be free. And it doesn’t mean those who can’t afford it won’t jump the wall and it might create a friction that we’ve never had before.”

l Picture special, page 29