A South Oxfordshire village is welcoming the return of a much-loved music festival on May 27 - 29, raising funds to help local research into lymphoma cancers.

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

The event has been running for 15 years, but like so many was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Organisers hope that this year’s festival will be bigger and better than ever and raise important funds for a cause that means a lot to people in the village.

Jo Chapman, pictured left, is one of the organisers. She explains: “We select a different worthy charity every year for Rokefest and this year we are raising funds for the Julian Starmer-Smith Lymphoma Fund, which is part of Oxford Hospitals Charity, 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 plan to do Ashley proud at this year’s festival and raise more money than ever to help local research into lymphoma cancers. We have a fantastic line-up over the three days of Rokefest and all the bands are kindly playing for free. We hope people dig deep into their pockets and donate generously for this very worthy cause.”

As well as the live bands and entertainment there will be a sponsored head-shave, with Ashley’s son, Zac, amongst those ready to lose their locks for charity.

Ashley’s wife, Sam, said: “I am incredibly touched that the local community is remembering Ashley in this way, and raising funds 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 successful careers 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 his friends both old and new but most of all he adored his family and was so proud of his children. He is very sadly missed by everyone.”

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: “We are so pleased that Rokefest has chosen to support the important research done by our Julian Starmer-Smith Lymphoma Fund. This is such a wonderful tribute in memory of Ashley.

“As a local myself I know what a fantastic event Rokefest is – and how excited everyone is to see it back this year. And as well as being a fabulous weekend of music in the most beautiful of settings, Rokefest has an incredible history of raising funds for very special causes, so we are thrilled to be a part of it.”

Live music starts on Friday 27th May at 7pm and finishes at 10:00pm on Sunday 29th May. For details of the full line-up at the festival or for more information go to www.rokefest.com and you can support their fundraising at www.justgiving.com/team/Rokefest 

To find out more about the work Oxford Hospitals Charity and the Julian Starmer-Smith Lymphoma Fund do visit www.hospitalcharity.co.uk or https://www.hospitalcharity.co.uk/starmer-smith-fund