Starting with just £37 of dole money, this Wigan teacher has helped put the town’s nightlife back on the radar with his free annual music event.
Tim Critchley’s Wigan Live Festival, which returns for its seventh year on Friday, August 16th, brings a stellar line-up of performers to town each year.
Tim, who’s just qualified as a teacher and is volunteering at Woodlands Community Primary School, has also used the event to raise thousands of pounds for charity. Next month, he’s championing Breast Cancer UK, which is supporting his mum through her own cancer battle.
He said: “This year has been a crazy whirlwind. My mum has just finished chemotherapy and started radiotherapy so I said to her I’m definitely doing the event for a cancer charity, just try and stop me.
“I always want it to go well but this year it’s close to my heart so the fire in me is really burning. I’m lost for words at the thought of being able to help, even if it’s just a little.”
This two-day bill of musical merriment is also about raising awareness.
“My mum thought she had a cyst for a year then found out it was actually cancer,” Tim added.
“So it’s important for people to get anything they’re worried about checked out. It’s why we have doctors and the NHS, and it’s a beautiful system.”
Tim and his team of volunteers fund-raise right from the start and every penny goes to charity.
It all began seven years ago when he turned to the dole after finishing a music degree. He started the festival with just £37 of job-seekers allowance, which he put towards Poundland buckets to collect funds.
The rest was paid for by holding monthly fund-raising gigs at Wigan Central and he enlisted people who helped out for free.
Tim said: “I was sat in the job centre one day wondering what I was doing with my life. I thought, Wigan needs more of a music scene. It used to be amazing.
“It’s been crazy seeing the amount of places introducing live music since then and it’s mind-blowing to be part of that.
“It’s helped put the town’s nightlife on the map as people are visiting more often now.”
Among the set list are Wigan group, The Warlords, and Manchester’s The Oxbloods, who were crowned the festival’s best band last year.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the response from bands. We’ve had hundreds wanting to be involved and they’re coming from as far as Scotland, London and Wales.
“I want to thank them because they play for free and their effort is amazing,” Tim added.
“You can expect every type of music. I really pride myself on picking artists and every act is the creme de la creme.”
Tim is now looking for more volunteers to make the festival bigger and better.
He said: “Wigan Live is bringing people together, it’s a good celebration and a place where people are happy. I don’t get paid in money but from the joy and satisfaction I get from doing it and it would be ace if we could get the community to come together to help it grow. I think it has the potential to skyrocket and boom.”
To volunteer, please contact Tim@wiganlivefestival.co.uk
Friday, August 16th, 8pm till late. Saturday, August 17th, noon till late. Venues: Wigan Central; Tap ‘n’ Barrel; Casino De Cuba; The Raven; Swinley Fifteens; The Tudor; The Boulevard; The Berkeley Square; The Bailiff Bar (The Old Courts).