Meet the team who revived the Lytham Proms
- Credit: Archant
This coastal town is famous for being sedate but it is also home to a musical event attracting international attention. Emma Mayoh reports
There was a time when the simple pleasures of shrimps and the bracing sea air were enough to attract the crowds to Lytham. But today, there is something quite different that has captured their imagination.
This town may not be a place you would normally associate with loud music and a party atmosphere.
But the spectacular Lytham Proms, held on the green beside the seafront, has grown from a well-supported but small-scale event to a hugely popular date in the musical calendar.
In its five year history it has attracted big name artists such as Lesley Garrett, Alfie Boe and Russell Watson as well as showcasing the talents of local groups, including the town’s own Park View Community Choir.
Every year, more and more music lovers head to the Fylde to soak up the atmosphere, see the artists perform and experience a bit of Lytham life.
The current Proms are the brainchild of friends Peter Taylor and Daniel Cuffe, founders of event management firm Cuffe and Taylor. The event had not been held in the town since 2003 due to a lack of funding but these Lytham lads decided to take on the job of reviving the concerts.
Peter, who was then managing the Clifton Park Hotel in nearby St Annes, said: ‘We decided to do it as a bit of a hobby. We were both working together on a production at Lowther Pavilion and the council was looking for someone to organise the Proms.
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‘We just decided to go for it. It was hard work but people really seemed to enjoy it.
‘The Proms made our company - we formed it because we loved doing that first one so much. And none of it would have been a success if it had not been for the people of Lytham.
‘It’s the best job in the world and we are very proud, being from Lytham, that it has become something that people love.’ Over the years the growth in the Prom’s event has been remarkable. In its first year 4,500 people attended but this year 45,000 music lovers will arrive in Lytham to enjoy the festivities between August 1st and 3rd.
As well as putting Lytham on the map musically, the event has helped catapult Cuffe and Taylor to huge success.
The company, now internationally regarded, plays a role in organising tours for the likes of Russell Watson and Rod Stewart.
Peter and Daniel are also involved with organising festivals, including a new event, Greenwich Music Time, and local events including the popular showjumping competition, the Bolesworth Classic in Cheshire. Former IT worker Daniel, 27, said: ‘We can’t believe the success it has become. It’s just fantastic. But it’s also something that brings a lot of money into the area.
‘You won’t find an empty hotel room around here over that weekend and the restaurants and bars will be packed out.’
This year’s Lytham Proms will be particularly special for the pair as it will be their fifth anniversary.
To mark the special year, the line-up is a dazzling array of superstars including Tom Jones, the Halle Orchestra and a host of 80s acts including Brother Beyond and Hue and Cry.
There will also be the anticipated firework display being held on the final night. Lesley Garrett, who appeared at the first Lytham Proms, is also on the bill.
Peter, 33 said: ‘We’re really excited that Lesley is coming back. I think she will see a huge change in things since that first year. She helped us make the event what it is so we are really proud that she will be here again.’
The pair, who have recently signed a contract to put on the event for the next 15 years, spend around 18 months organising Lytham Proms. It is a huge undertaking. Although this year’s has yet to take place, Peter recently spent time in Los Angeles meeting potential acts for the 2015 concerts.
Apart from hiring the stars, there is also the logistics of getting the stage onto the green as well as the arena, bars, marquees, and toilets.
Each year more than 800 staff assist in the smooth running of the event. There are plans for a permanent water supply to be installed under the green, purely to help with the running of Lytham Proms. Although Peter and Daniel are responsible for the lion’s share of the organisation, there are many local people who help to make sure it goes without a hitch.
Everything from high-tech musical equipment and the stage, down to the water and the toilets all have to be brought on site in the week ahead of the event. .
The people running Thornton-based Twelve Catering, who also have their own restaurant, are responsible for feeding the hundreds of people who attend a special VIP dinner each night.
They come up with a menu to wow the guests and then have to cook hundreds of meals each day.
It is something that husband and wife team Paul Moss and Caroline Upton, who own the company, start planning well in advance.
‘We start preparation a few weeks before but all of the planning and thought about what we are going to serve to the guests and how we will approach it happens a long time before that,’ said Caroline.
‘This is the second year we have done it and it is a fantastic event to be involved with. We will have between 60 and 70 staff working for us.
‘We are incredibly pleased to be one of the suppliers to Lytham Proms. It is a fantastic event and one for the area to be proud of.’
It is also a big task for Coronet Hire who provide glasses and refrigeration for the VIP dinner and all of the bars on site.
Owners Nikki and Stephen Nye also work on events like the Le Mans 24Hour race as well as dragon boat races held in London, Salford and Cardiff.
They will be preparing and sending thousands of items of glassware for the three-day event.
Nikki, 48, said: ‘This is a fantastic event. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in something as prestigious and beneficial to the local area? We feel very honoured and privileged. It beings so many people here, so much investment that it has an incredibly positive impact on the town. There is nothing else that does it, year after year.’
The local Lytham Booths store is responsible for providing the performers with their backstage food and drink requirements.
Simon Fenwick, store manager, said: ‘We can get requests for absolutely anything. Buy quite often it is fruit but it’s nice to be sending them Lancashire produce.
‘We’re really proud to be involved with Lytham Proms. It is a terrific event for the town and the atmosphere is fantastic.’