Symphony bows out after ‘terrific run’

James Blunt concert at Symphony at Hoghton Tower
James Blunt concert at Symphony at Hoghton Tower
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The hugely popular annual Symphony at the Tower concert has taken its last bow.

In a shock move chiefs at St Catherine’s Hospice, which is behind the major event at Hoghton Tower, have announced that 2016 was its grand finale.

Symphony at Hoghton Tower Friday night concert with headliners Status Quo.
View from the stage.  PIC BY ROB LOCK
3-7-2015

Symphony at Hoghton Tower Friday night concert with headliners Status Quo. View from the stage. PIC BY ROB LOCK 3-7-2015

Over the 21 years it has been hosted, the three-day concert has boasted headliners including James Blunt, Status Quo, Katherine Jenkins and Aled Jones.

But the fundraiser for the Lostock Hall-based hospice has been plagued with terrible weather and waterlogged ground in recent years and had to cancel performances at the last minute in both 2012 and 2016.

Last year Will Young’s gig and the Symphony Spectacular concert were cancelled after torrential rain made the Hoghton Tower arena site unsafe.

Announcing the decision chief executive of St Catherine’s Hospice, Stephen Greenhalgh, said: “After very careful thought and consideration we have concluded that the 2016 Symphony at the Tower event was its finale.

“We have had a terrific run and recent years have brought fabulous stars such as Status Quo, James Blunt, Katherine Jenkins, The Human League, The Christians and Aled Jones to Lancashire, along with top-class performances from the Heart of England Philharmonic Orchestra and The Northern Chamber Orchestra.

“But cancellations in 2012 and 2016 due to dangerous ground conditions caused by inclement weather, has meant that we have had to seriously reconsider the long-term safety and viability of the event.”

MP for South Ribble Seema Kennedy said she was very sorry that the Symphony would be finishing.

She said: “I am sure the whole community will pull together to support other fundraising events as well as visiting the hospice shops and Mill Café.”

In fact, after just two years the award-winning St Catherine’s Park in Lostock Lane, which includes The Mill café and community hub, has brought in an income comparable to the Symphony and is expected to exceed it by 2018.

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said that although he enjoyed going to the concert he understood the reasoning behind the hospice’s decision. “Symphony at the Tower has been a spectacular event and I’ve enjoyed every year I’ve attended,” he said.

“That said, we must remember that it is about raising funds to maintain St Catherine’s Hospice for those who need it. If the event isn’t achieving this or isn’t sustainable it’s very sad but I do understand why the decision has been made. I hope that supporters are still able to donate vital funds and if there is any way I can help or our local authorities I am ready and waiting.”

A spokesman from Cuffe & Taylor, the event organiser for Symphony at the Tower said: “We have worked with the St Catherine’s team for the past four years on Symphony at the Tower. The event was already firmly established when we became involved and it has been a privilege to help St Catherine’s bring such high profile artists to Symphony at the Tower.

“We have enjoyed working so closely with the terrific team there and wish them well for all their future events.”