What prepared you for the task?
“I worked in IT with a big company, but wanted to do something else. I’ve always loved live music. Oasis was the first gig I went to, aged 11, at Cardiff International Arena. I first went to Glastonbury at 17 and was fascinated how everything was put together. Michael Eavis and Simon Moran (of SJM) are my inspirations. Simon is one of the most successful promoters in the UK and, if you achieve just a percentage of what Michael has, you’re doing very well.”
How did you make it all happen?
“A previous one-day music event on Lytham Green on the Ribble Estuary, Lancashire, had stopped. My partner Peter Taylor and I decided there was room to bring it back. We pooled our financial resources and Fylde Borough Council underwrote the first year. We were all determined to make it happen.
“Our vision was always to take the music to the people. This started off small with the one night Lytham Proms, aimed at a local audience. Our first headliner was Lesley Garrett, who Peter booked. I brought the show logistics together.
“A year later we expanded to three nights with Status Quo, Boyzone and Katherine Jenkins. All of a sudden, we attracted people from out of town to quiet, conservative Lytham. Some people initially thought that Status Quo were a tribute act – they couldn’t believe the band was playing on Lytham Green.”
What has made the festival a success?
“The key is that Peter and I work very well together and we‘re not afraid of risks. In spite of the sleepless nights, you have to maintain belief that you can make something work. And you have to put in a crazy number of hours. The day-to-day Cuffe and Taylor team are integral to our success. We employ a fantastic team of people who all believe in our vision. In 2017 we joined Live Nation, enabling us to expand the business and work more with international artistes. In addition, we have built relationships with fantastic suppliers over the years.”
What have been your highs and lows?
“When you’re under pressure to deliver, anything can be your worst moment. That’s the nature of the business. There are times when Peter and myself have gone without pay. Our priority is our staff, so we always made sure they left the office knowing their wages were in the bank.
“A personal highlight was Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds in 2016. Fast forward 19 years from my first Oasis gig and we’re the promoters bringing their songwriter to a festival in our hometown. That was very special.
“When Faithless headlined, I was surrounded by thousands of people going absolutely mad. There were OAPs dancing as well as teenagers and 20/30/40-somethings. That was surreal.”
Sound: Wigwam, Major Tom Audio
Lighting: Lights Control Rigging (LCR)
Video: PRG XL Video
Power: Fourth Generation
Trackway/Fencing: Live Trakway