Maximo Park, Billy Bragg and Eliza and the Bear are preparing to headline a charity festival in memory of Viola Beach guitarist River Reeves.

The event, titled RivFest, will also see The Voice winner Mo Adeniran sharing the stage with a variety of bands and DJs, including This Is England star-turned-DJ Thomas Turgoose.

The festival will be held at River’s former college in Warrington on Saturday 2nd September.

Nineteen-year-old River and his bandmates Jack Dakin, 19, Kris Leonard, 19, and Tomas Lowe, 27, were tragically killed when a car they were travelling in careered off a bridge in Sweden. Their manager Craig Tarry, 32, also died in the crash.

Months after the tragedy, River’s father Ben Dunne, a headteacher, founded a charity in his son’s name. The River Reeves Foundation aims to offer support to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds as they pursue careers in the arts.

Ben said: “After River died we spent a lot of time thinking of different ways we could raise money and help people in his memory.

I am a headteacher and my wife Sharon works as a teacher, so we work with a lot of young people. We know how difficult it is for youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue careers in the arts.

We wanted to offer financial support to young people so they have the opportunity to realise their dreams as actors, musicians, directors, artists and writers. We decided to build a foundation that offers bursaries to talented young men and women so they can dare to dream about working in the arts.

RivFest is our main fundraising event of the year, so by coming to watch live acts like Maximo Park and Billy Bragg, you are also supporting young people.”

Other acts include The Voice star Max Vickers, The Rainband, Stillia, Man and the Echo, The RPMs, Slydigs, Caro and Friends of Our Youth.

As well as live music, the festival will feature a creative arts village where families can take part in arts and craft activities.

There will also be a selection of street food vendors preparing delicious food to sustain festival-goers as they dance to the music.

Arriva buses are providing free shuttle services from both Bank Quay and Warrington Central rail stations direct to the festival site every 20 minutes.

Ben said: “We want RivFest to grow bigger and bigger every year. We’d love it to get to the size of Glastonbury or Creamfields and use the profits to improve the lives of young people across Warrington.

River loved a party, loved a beer and loved being with his friends. He also loved music, and gigs and festivals were places where all that he loved came together. He was one of those kids that had this coolness, but when he got passionate about something he became very tunnel visioned. The second he joined Viola Beach he was playing the guitar all the time. His guitar playing took on a whole new edge.

After River died we couldn’t just pull the blinds down and sit in a dark room and do nothing. We wanted to make a difference.”

RivFest will take place at Warrington’s Priestley College. Adult tickets cost £20 and children’s tickets are £5.

Tickets can be purchased through Skiddle:


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