THE organisers of a Wirral ukulele festival have launched an appeal for unwanted instruments in aid of community projects.

The fifth Summer Strum festival will be held at Hoylake Rugby Club on July 6 and 7. Around 2,000 music fans are expected for the event, featuring more than 50 ukulele acts, including headliners the Splintered Ukes and the D'Ukes of Hazzard.

There will also be artisan food and drink stalls, singalong jams, a busking bus, open mic stage, yoga and Tai Chi.

The festival was launched in 2014 by Pat Ross-Davies and Emma Owen, both musicians with Wirral band the Broken Strings. Their aim was to spread wellbeing by providing a free event for ukulele players from across the region to come together.

This year they want to spread the message further and have launched a "ukulele amnesty" appeal asking anyone who has a spare ukulele, percussion or other instruments that are not being played, to hand them over.

The donated instruments will then be redistributed to community projects across the North West, in to help spread the smiles which Beatle George Harrison famously associated with playing the ukulele.

The Summer Strum has so far raised more than more than £10,000 for its nominated charities Wirral MIND and Wirral Hospice St John’s, to which all profits are donated.

This year's event has received £1,500 National Lottery funding, and there are still opportunities for sponsors to get involved.

The idea for the ukulele amnesty came about after thinking about a way to spread the positive effects of playing music to more people, who may have not picked up an instrument before, or had the opportunity to play with a group.

Pat and Emma want to pass on as many donated ukuleles as possible to those who could benefit from a musical boost and are asking for any groups who would like to receive donated ukuleles to get in touch.

Inspirational Pat, from West Kirby, is living with secondary breast cancer with support from Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, after 18 years in remission, and says playing music helps her to keep a positive outlook.

Pat, 60, said: "There is something very special about the ukulele. As George Harrison said you can't help but smile when you pick one up.

"Playing music helps me stay positive, and we want to help spread that to as many people as possible.

"Lots of ukulele player will have started out on a beginner instrument and then gradually moved on to more expensive uke as they improve.

"A lot of people might have a spare ukulele at home that might not be being played, and perhaps someone else could benefit. We would love to help more people to start playing.”

The Summer Strum festival was set up to promote wellbeing by spreading the joy people feel sharing a love of playing ukulele together, and sponsors are still needed to help make this year’s event even bigger and better than ever.

More than 50 bands will be playing on two stages at the summer strum.

Among them will be the Broken Strings, Wirral Ukulele Fanatics, Phil Doleman, Secret Ukulele Band, Ukulele Club Liverpool, Jefferson Milkfloat, Huyton Ukulele Troupe, Ukuleighties, Chester Ukes, River City Ukes, Neston Strummers, and Grateful Fred’s Ukelear Deterrent, to name a few.

Saturday headliners the Splintered Ukes are regulars at the Handyman Pub on Smithdown Road in Liverpool. Earlier this year they supported world famous Jake Shimabukuro at Grand Central Hall, when he signed a ukulele which will be raffled off at the festival.

Sunday headliners the D'Ukes of Hazzard are known for their popular weekly ukulele jams at Ma Egerton's pub in Liverpool city centre.

Three workshops will take place in Melrose Hall on Saturday July 6, just a short walk from Hoylake Rugby Club.

There is plenty for non-ukulele players to get their teeth into including a morning family pop song workshop, and Diddley Bow making and songwriting workshops in the afternoon.

Co-organiser Emma Owen, 47 and from Birkenhead continued: "We are very excited about this year's festival.

"It's set to be our biggest and best event yet!

"There will also be lots of workshops and jams throughout the weekend, so anyone who is starting out or who hasn’t even picked up an instrument yet will have lots of opportunities to learn.

"We'll have all the usual food and drink stalls, and some exciting new ones too – we’re very grateful to all of the local businesses who support us."

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