Tuesday, September 07, 2004


.... this is a fab item about the YMCA and it's role at Greenbelt AND there are some great pix which go with the article but I don't have the tech knowledge to 'stink' get them on for you - so visit the site ....
YMCA brightens up a cloudy Greenbelt
Gloomy skies, flash floods and a chilly wind couldn't put a dampener on Greenbelt 2004, and the YMCA was out in force to add a touch of sunshine to the festival.

Over the past few years Ken Montgomery, YMCA England's North East Regional Secretary, and his team have built the YMCA's presence at the festival from a single marquee to a small village packed with attractions to stimulate visiting festival goers in mind, body and spirit.

One of the highlights of the YMCA's Greenbelt 2004 activities was a series of performances featuring young people from emerging eastern European YMCAs.

The triple-bill featured a quirky puppet show from a Bulgarian YMCA team, a selection of favourite pop songs performed by a team of singers from Moscow, and a stunning mime by a talented troupe from the Ukraine.

The twenty-minute performance 'What is your name?' was devised and performed by the theatre group Yabluko, part of YMCA Ukraine.

This emotional piece of theatre tells the story of Queen front man Freddie Mercury and his death from AIDS, and of four other people who contracted HIV in the same year as the singer.

The YMCA's 24 hour cafe was packed by the end of both performances, on Saturday and Monday morning, full of passing Greenbelters, drawn into the tent to get a closer look at the passionate performance.

The 24-hour cafe was the place to be at Greenbelt, particularly at three o'clock in the morning as nocturnal festival goers continued to keep the YMCA volunteers busy.

Even in the wee small hours, someone would pitch up - guitar in hand - ready to sing the night away.

While the busy cafe staff served up the best value food and drink at Cheltenham racecourse, across the other side of the marquee various acts and singers - ranging from the brilliant to the bizarre - performed on the YMCA Bandstand stage.

Across from the bustle of the cafe was a more reflective space in the form of the YMCA Meditation Maze.

Taking Freedom Bound as its theme - also the theme of the festival - the team from West London YMCA created a labyrinth of sensory delights.

The heart of the maze featured an installation of artwork from inmates from Newhall Women's Prison.

An exploration of what it is like to be 'inside' and 'outside', this powerful piece inspired many visitors to create their own art in response.

Fesitval goers who wanted to burn off a little energy were also well served by the YMCA village.

Just beyond the maze, Crewe & District YMCA set up a beach volleyball court, with the help of 26 tonnes of sand.

Such was the demand for volleyball that the team organised a tournament on the last day, which featured players from across the world - a tiny taste of the Olympics in Cheltenham!

Even more daring festival attendees were offered a bigger challenge thanks to YMCA Lakeside and its climbing wall.

Towering over the Greenbelt village, any person - young or old - brave enough to reach the top was sent away with a certificate, and a sense of self-satisfaction.

Mounted on the back of a trailer, the climbing wall was brought all the way from Florida by Lakeside - its first appearance on British soil.

At only £2 per climb it was cheap at half the price, costing the same as a cup of coffee from Mocha Mania - as the Lakeside team frequently pointed out to passers by.

After all the physical and mental stimulation, what better way to relax than at the best (and only) shower block on the complex, run by student volunteers from Newcastle upon Tyne YMCA?

But be warned, advanced booking was essential - nearly all the weekend's shower slots were booked out on day one.

There is no doubt that this year's Greenbelt YMCA was a great success, adding a rich diversity of attractions to the packed Greenbelt programme.

Keep visiting here as the ymca website (link to it from www.greenbelt.org.uk )as it will be updated in the coming weeks with more details of Greenbelt, including interviews with YMCA staff, reviews of some of the performances and two exclusive interviews, with acoustic group Show of Hands, and Kurt Wagner lead singer and songwriter from headline band Lambchop.

bhp nicked this from the YMCA England website.