A POPULAR beer festival will this year be dedicated to the memory of a young supporter.
Simon Taylor was first taken along to the annual Bent and Bongs Beer Bash as a teenager by his dad and ended up helping out at almost every one of the quirky festivals over the past two decades.
But what no-one realised was that, away from the barrels, 34-year-old Simon was suffering from Marfan’s Syndrome - a disorder of connective tissue that can affect the eyes, skeleton, lungs, heart and blood vessels.
And last year, just days before the start of the 2011 event, he lost his brave fight for life.
Now this weekend’s 23rd Bent and Bongs has been dedicated to his memory - as a fund-raiser for the charity which is fighting for answers to the condition,
The main beneficiary will be the Marfan Association UK, although other local charities and worthy causes will be supported.
Marfan syndrome is as common as cystic fibrosis, affecting an estimated one in 5,000 people - yet few people know about it.
Although long time organisers Atherton and Tyldesley Round Table branch closed two years ago because of falling membership, they formed a charitable trust to make sure the festival itself lives on.
And now they hope that this year’s event is more successful than ever as a permanent tribute to Simon, who lived in Atherton.
Press officer Paul Hodson, who lives in Hindley Green, said: “Simon volunteered to help at every Bent and Bongs while suffering from Marfan’s Syndrome, although he never even knew it, nor did his parents or his friends.
“We knew he had some health problems, but nothing associated with that, so it was a massive shock when he died suddenly just prior to last year’s festival, and it was only after his death that Marfan’s was discovered.
“In remembrance of Simon, the Bent and Bongs Charitable Trust selected the Marfan’s Association UK as one of the main beneficiaries for 2012 and we hope that the festival will help to spread the word about Marfan’s wherever possible,”
This year’s Bent and Bongs, which runs from January 26 to 28 inclusive, takes an Olympic theme with Gold Medal winning brews to the forefront.
All sessions feature live music with traditional folk rockers One Hand Clapping entertaining on the Thursday, Cracked Flag on Friday and Spider Monkeys bringing things to a close on the Saturday night. Opening: Thurs (6pm-11pm); Fri (5pm-11pm); Sat (noon-4pm; 7pm-11pm).