Love was in the air at Wirral Shopping Centre
A young singing sensation
wowed the crowds as the inaugural Love Wirral Festival lived up to
its name. Along with the Wirral Ukelele Orchestra and children's
favourite Peppa Pig, rising star Tabitha Jade Hayles, 13, was among
the main attractions at the event staged at the Pyramids Shopping
Centre in Birkenhead. The Centre's Commercial Director, Derek
Millar, could hardly conceal his delight as he watched thousands of
delighted visitors enjoy the sights and sounds of the area's
talented entertainers. The day long programme was enjoyed by
all from toddlers to pensioners and all the performers were greeted
with rapturous applause. The festival was staged in response
to suggestions from regular customers at the Pyramids who felt it
was an ideal venue to showcase local talent. Derek commented that:-
"We have staged various events over the years such as fashion
shows but we agreed that the Love Wirral Festival was a good idea,
and it has obviously been very popular."
It was he who ensured that 13 year old rising star Tabitha was in
the line up after spotting her on YouTube singing and playing
guitar. He said:- "I was blown away when I saw her and thought
we had to get her while we could still afford her because I'm sure
she's going to be a big name."
Tabitha, a pupil at Upton Hall Grammar School, sings a variety of
her own compositions and popular covers, with backing from her 11
year old sister Eliza Mai. On drums was another talented youngster,
10 year old Seth Beard from Neston.
Next month Tabitha will appear in the final of the national talent
competition TeenStar in Birmingham, but she admitted she was nervous
about appearing before such a large crowd in the open air in St
John's Square. "I didn't expect this many people to be here."
She need not have worried, for she received a tremendous reception
from the obviously impressed audience.
Among the teenager's fans watching was West Wirral MP Esther McVey,
who said she was visiting the Festival specially to see and hear her
sing. "It's a great atmosphere with the best performers on the
best day of the year. It couldn't be better." she said.
Ms McVey is also an admirer of the Wirral Ukelele Orchestra whose
upbeat renditions of songs at intervals throughout the day had the
crowds tapping their feet and swaying to the music. Ms McVey said:-
"They have a huge following, and I'm not surprised!"
The 20 strong orchestra was formed only 3 years ago, with members
coming from all walks of life, and while some had previous musical
experience others began playing for the 1st time. One of the
founders of the group, Pat Ross, who used to play the guitar, but
took up the uke after retiring from her job with a major energy
company, said:- "They were becoming in great demand and that
their music invariably put a smile on people faces. Their Hawaiian
outfits were particularly appropriate in the sunshine, adding to the
festive spirit. "It really is a fantastic atmosphere here."
The very young visitors were interested in only one character,
however, and that was the ever-popular Peppa Pig, who made 5
personal appearances during the day for narrated story sessions.
Michelle Haughey from West Kirby said her 4 year old daughter Niamh
had insisted that they visit when she heard that her favourite
character would be present. "I come to the Pyramids most
weekends to do my shopping, but I couldn't drag Niamh away. She sat
through 2 of the reading sessions." said Michelle.
The non-stop 6 hour programme also included energetic dancing
displays by local groups Xtreme Dance School and Funkstar.
There was entertainment of a different kind for youngsters in nearby
St Werburgh's Square where Snapperjaxx Kids Club kept them busy with
interactive games on a mediaeval theme.
There was a chance for bussing sports stars to show their skills
with a penalty shootout display staged by Tranmere Rovers, where the
speed of the spotkicks were recorded, and an inflatable tennis court
which tested the accuracy of volleys. That was organised by Wirral
Indoor Tennis Centre in Bidston.
As the programme came to an end Derek Millar said he could hardly
have wished for a better response and praised all the performers.
"The flow of people has been non-stop and all have had a smile on
their faces." said Derek Millar.