A South Oxfordshire music festival is celebrating raising a record-breaking total for charity this year, to help local research into lymphoma cancers.

Rokefest is a three day music festival hosted annually at the Home Sweet Home pub in Roke, near Benson.

The much-loved event has been running for 15 years, but like so many, was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

So, organisers were thrilled that the event could take place earlier this year and even more delighted, now all the funds are in, that they have raised a whopping £17,769 for charity - breaking all previous records.

Rokefest 2022 raised funds for the Julian Starmer-Smith Lymphoma Fund, which is part of Oxford Hospitals Charity – a local cause that means a lot to people in the village.

Jo Chapman, one of the organisers, explains: “We select a different worthy cause every year for Rokefest and this year decided to raise funds in memory of one of our dearly beloved locals, Ashley Jones.

“Ashley was a real character who sadly passed away, far too young, after his second battle with lymphoma. We really wanted to do Ashley and his family proud, so we are utterly thrilled to have raised this record-breaking amount at what really was one of the best Rokefests ever.

“One of the things that made the event so special this year – alongside all the brilliant music, beer and food, was the way Ashley’s family got involved – especially his son, Zac,  who had his head shaved live on stage, raising thousands towards the final total.”  

Ashley’s wife, Sam, said: “I am incredibly touched that the local community remembered Ashley in this special way, and raised this huge amount that will directly benefit the medical team at the Churchill Hospital who cared for him over many years.

“Ashley was brave, kind and funny, a very genuine human being who loved to entertain and was always the life and soul of the party. He was born in Oxford, rowed for Britain and had a successful career in the motoring and leasing trade. Life was never dull with him, he would make everyone laugh constantly with his cheeky humour and a twinkle in his eye.

“He loved Rokefest so it means an incredible amount that the community came out to have fun and to remember him, and that they have raised this incredible amount.”

Pub landlords, Dom Papa and Lizzy Ferrier said: “Everyone put their heart and soul into Rokefest this year and it really was a brilliant local event. It’s great to know that the huge efforts put in by all have led to such an incredible amount for this important local cause.”

The Julian Starmer-Smith Lymphoma Fund, which is part of Oxford Hospitals Charity, supports important research taking place in Oxford into lymphoma cancers, which are the fifth commonest type of cancers in the UK.

Sarah Vaccari, Head of Communications, at Oxford Hospitals Charity, said: “As a local myself it was exciting to see everyone back at Rokefest this year enjoying the fabulous weekend of music in the most beautiful of settings.

“We are so pleased it was such an incredible success and has raised so much to support the important research done by our Julian Starmer-Smith Lymphoma Fund. This is such a wonderful tribute in memory of Ashley. Our huge thanks to all the Rokefest team.”

Click here to find out more about the Julian Starmer-Smith Lymphoma Fund.