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Volunteering with CALM at Planet Rockstock

CALM is the official charity partner of Planet Rockstock 2015, and here volunteer Matt writes about what it was like to rep CALM at the festival “where rock lives”. Freakin’ yeeeeaaahhhh…

What a weekend!

After a lengthy journey over to Bridgend, just a few clicks west of Cardiff, I arrived at Trecco Bay Caravan Park. I had to question the taxi driver who delivered me from the train station, saying “this doesn’t look like where you’d expect to find a rock festival.” Having said that, you wouldn’t expect to be at any festival in the first weekend of December, especially in windy rainy Wales…

Waddling onto the campsite and towards the main reception in my wellies, I started to see a few clues – the odd banner and poster, hairy leather-clad rockers stapled with facial piercings – all to suggest I was in the right place.

I checked in to my own deluxe 3 bedroom caravan, kindly provided by the Planet Rock crew and started to find out more about the location. It was held in this campsite, using 2 stages (event rooms), a sports bar and a restaurant. Festival-goers could also make use of the amusement arcades, dodgems and onsite bowling alley! I sensed the chilled seaside vibe was in for a rude awakening.

I received the warmest of welcomes from our Planet Rock contact, who persistently ensured I was well taken care of for the entirety of the festival. I was always comfortable, well fed, and made aware of the exposure and positioning of CALM branding and where appropriate always had a beer in my hand. I was able to access pretty much all areas of the site, and enjoyed going backstage and seeing ‘behind the scenes’, meeting bands and chilling out with the Planet Rock DJs and production team. Speaking of which, on the first blurry morning of Planet Rockstock, we welcomed Planet Rock DJ Wyatt Wendels, who had cycled from London to the festival site, battered by Storm Desmond en route. His monumental effort raised over £33,000 for CALM.

As someone who has recently started fancying myself as a bit of a guitarist, the opportunity to get up close to some of the world’s greatest guitarists simply blew my face off. I was taken away by the husky voice of blues legend, Joanne Shaw Taylor. ‘Gun Metal Grey’ were my favourite discovery, and by the time ‘Rival Sons’ had finished their class act I had to remind myself how to function my eyelids. It was ear-bustlingly brilliant.

But the star-studded music line up wasn’t the only reason tickets to Planet Rockstock sold out in minutes. It was the 3rd festival of its kind, and with an attendance of 1,500, you really got the sense of a community feel. DJs ate breakfast and drank beer amongst their listeners, and everyone was so welcoming and friendly.

This made the volunteering experience all the better. Over the 4 days I was at Planet Rockstock, everyone got to know me as “the CALM guy” and I was constantly thanking people for their generous donations, generating awareness for CALM and listening to different experiences. It saddens me to say that I heard about too many friends and family members of rockers who had recently taken their own lives. Only too many because it is still such a huge problem, not because I felt dragged down. The complete opposite actually, it is a powerful feeling to know that I was able to be part of the movement, which is actively getting people to open up and begin talking about their problems, especially from a culture so traditionally dominated by aggressive masculine messaging.

The final act of the festival really summed up for me what was a truly bizarre and uplifting weekend. ‘The Darkness’ completed their flamboyant and hilarious set with rock legend Justin Hawkins being paraded through the crowds on the shoulders of ‘Fozzy’ front man, Chris Jericho (yes ex-WWF wrestler!) during their headline performance.

So to sum up then, I had the most incredible weekend, especially since I was lucky enough to represent CALM at the Secret Garden Party back in the summer. To anyone thinking about volunteering for CALM, DO IT. You will make friends for life and be part of a movement that is happening right now to make a positive change to our world. A huge, huge thank you to CALM for the opportunity, until the next time!

Calm Justin

Above pic: Justin of The Darkness as photographed by CALM volunteer Matt.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

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