We were delighted to receive a kind donation from Chesterfield Folk Club as they brought things to a close at the end of 2020. We've asked their treasurer, Geoff Deighton, a few questions about the club and their generous donation.

Drystone: What drew Chesterfield Folk Club to granting Drystone this incredibly generous donation?

Geoff: We wished to ensure that the funds we had left over were used to support the folk arts, both locally and further afield. Following the sad death of Mick Peat, our attention was drawn to the Drystone Bursary and we knew that a donation to you would meet our wishes.

Drystone: How far do you trace back the beginnings of Chesterfield Folk Club? (take as long as you like)

Geoff: Chesterfield Folk Club opened its doors on 18 January 2008 following the sad death of Dave Davidson who had been an avid promoter of folk music in the Chesterfield Area. He had run what was called The Attic Folk Club for several years and had a group of people to help him put on the concerts. These people wished to keep folk music going in the town and so formed the committee of what became Chesterfield Folk Club.

The Attic had started in The Attic Snooker Club (hence its name) then moved to The Tullamore Hotel. It then went to the larger premises at Chesterfield Miners’ Welfare which is where Chesterfield Folk Club continued to be held until September 2014 when we moved to Chesterfield Library Theatre.

Drystone: Were there other folk clubs before yours – eg. The Queen’s Park Hotel?

Geoff: I am only aware of the aforementioned Attic Folk Club though I believe that Dave Davidson put on folk music events at The Queens Park Hotel before any of us were involved.

Drystone: Call-up some of your greatest nights?

Geoff: Nights can be classed as “great” for several reasons eg, audience numbers or entertainment value. As we have had many highly successful nights over the years and it is difficult to pick out particular ones. In terms of both audience numbers and entertainment value, concerts involving Martin Simpson, John Tams and Barry Coope, Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies and While and Matthews were among the most successful. Vin Garbutt of course would always guarantee a full house and gave us some of our most memorable nights.

However, there were also concerts which brought in fewer numbers yet the performers gave us some outstanding entertainment. Anthony John Clarke and Dave Pegg, O’Hooley and Tidow, The Gerry Colvin Band and, of course, Les Barker are some of the names that come to mind. We put on dozens of concerts and each one was great in its own way!

Drystone: Why have you called it a day?

Geoff: The first thing I must say is that it wasn’t due to Covid. We had made the decision at the end on 2018 that 2019 would be our last year.

All the people on the committee were volunteers and, as such, were putting in lots of time to run a folk club, for no financial reward – only the satisfaction of putting on some fantastic concerts and seeing an audience having a thoroughly enjoyable night. It is a big responsibility and took a lot of effort and, occasionally, stress. As we became older and health issues started to become apparent, the enthusiasm began to wane. Had we not had the Covid pandemic and been allowed to complete our planned 2019 programme, we might have had chance to find a new committee who were willing to continue running the club.

Drystone: How would you like your kind funding to be spent?

Geoff: On anything that promotes and encourages folk music, especially projects that support up and coming young performers in the way of sponsored concerts, help to buy instruments etc. Beyond that, we are happy to leave it in your hands. You are all very much part of the local and national folk music scene and understand what is involved as well as anyone.