Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

A fond farewell to Forest Live and Westonbirt

Posted: May 23, 2023 at 10:55 am Author: Simon Hough

Simon Hough

We caught up with Simon Hough, Forestry England’s Events Manager, to share his experiences with Forest Live and Westonbirt as he sets off on a new adventure this summer after 22 years with Forestry England.

Simon: “Forest Live is Forestry England's largest public engagement programme, and it's a tour of live music performances across different forest venues from Cheshire in the north to Westonbirt in the south. We've hosted over 2 million customers nationally and helped raise many millions of pounds to support Westonbirt and Forestry England's work.

Westonbirt has been hosting large events, including live music performances for many years – starting with classical ‘Proms in the Park’ concerts including fireworks, which became part of the Forestry England live music programme around 2005.

I've had some amazing experiences working on Forest Live at Westonbirt. There have been many really iconic performances, some sublime summer evenings (and a few occasional wet ones!) but whatever the weather, the atmosphere has always been uniquely awe-inspiring. The Great British public always rises to the occasion and gets into the party spirit once the music starts.

One of my most memorable performances was Gruff Rhys, supporting Suede. He performed solo on stage but using a variety of weird and wonderful contraptions filled the arboretum with some wonderful sounds and was a real entertainer.

Forest Live at Westonbirt

This year at Westonbirt we really do have something for everyone, rock with Paul Weller, current from Tom Grennan and supreme singing and songwriting from Jack Savoretti and Natalie Imbruglia.

In addition to the music, Forest Live is also about the community. It's a chance for people to come together and enjoy a shared experience in a beautiful setting. I've seen first-hand how Forest Live can bring people together, and I'm proud to have played a small part in that.

I would strongly encourage anyone who has never been to a Forest Live event or hasn't been for a few years, to come and join in this summer. There is nothing quite like a crowd enjoying great music on a summer's evening in a location as amazing as Westonbirt.

I'm moving on to a new role this summer, but I'll be taking many happy memories with me as I take up an incredible new role as Head of Commercial Activities and Hospitality for the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire. That will be a big change, but it is still, at its heart organising large events in a greenfield location, and it is for a very worthy cause supporting the RAF Charitable Trust.

I'm extremely proud of all we have achieved at Westonbirt over the years, and I'm also very grateful for the incredible opportunity I've had to work on wonderful events such as Enchanted Christmas and Forest Live. I wish all the best for the future of Forest Live and Westonbirt.”

Simon has been a wonderful colleague to work with and a great supporter of The Friends, we are extremely grateful for all of his support and wish him a fond farewell as he embarks on his next exciting opportunity.

Don't miss your chance to see one of the most influential British musicians of all time, Paul Weller, live in concert!...

Forest Live at Westonbirt

If you're looking for a night of great music and good vibes, then be sure to catch Tom Grennan this summer...

Forest Live at Westonbirt

See Jack Savoretti live in concert! His music is a perfect blend of folk, rock, and pop, and his live shows are unforgettable...

Forest Live at Westonbirt