Festival founder broke down at news of lockdown extension

The co-founder of an independent music festival said she broke down in tears after being forced to cancel the event due to the delay in ending lockdown.

The Black Deer Festival was due to take place at Eridge Park in Kent from June 25-27.

However, organisers Gill Tee, 65, and Debs Shilling, 55, were forced to axe the event after Boris Johnson confirmed England’s lockdown would not end on June 21.

It was extended by at least four weeks over fears of Covid-19 variants.

Ms Tee, a former events organiser, told the PA news agency she was devastated when she heard the news.

“I actually cried,” she said. “You can’t begin to imagine – only people that have built a festival themselves would understand the heart, everything that goes into it. It becomes your life.

“So when I come out and look at the 3,500 acres of beautiful countryside and see where our festival should be, it is truly devastating.”

Ms Tee said she knows of people in her industry who have taken their own lives due to the strain of the pandemic.

She added: “It’s endless, the repercussions of this. This isn’t a quick fix, this is our suppliers who have earmarked all of their kit to come to our site and turned down other jobs; it’s the artists, who have been so amazing, and the agents.

“It’s a whole raft of people that have been affected by this. This is people’s lives.”

Ms Shilling admitted she was surprised the Government did not announce further concessions for outdoor events.

She said: “To hear there was absolutely nothing for us, no movement at all, not even a small rise in capacity or something, we were just very shocked, to say the least.”

The festival founders said they intend to return next year with an “incredible experience”.