Mott the Hoople rocker teams up with church for fundraiser

The average age of worshippers at St Peter's Pipe cum Lyde, near Hereford, is pushing 80 but that is not stopping them from putting on a rock concert.

RK Festival 2012 will feature Soft Ground, the band led by organist and Mott the Hoople founding member Verden Allen, who featured in the band's 1972 hit, "All The Young Dudes".

It will make a youthful change for the congregation, who are more used to swaying to the words of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The Parochial Church Council at St Peter's are hoping the gig will raise much needed funds for the church.

At 60, PCC Secretary Bob Calver is one of the church's younger members.

He explained: “Like many rural churches we have an aging congregation and raising money just to meet our expenses is a real challenge.

“We knew there was little point in just continuing to organise the same old round of parish fairs and the rest. We wanted to do something different and this is it.”

The idea began with PCC members Karen and Rob Watkins, who run a wedding and events venue on their farm in the village.

“When Karen mentioned that Verden was rehearsing there with his new band and suggested she ask him to play for the church we jumped at the idea,” Calver explained.

“I think at first we had the idea he might play our organ and we weren’t thinking of a full-on rock music event.”

Now a full-on rock event is exactly what they have. Soft Ground will top the bill on 13 October along with other special guests, including The Pretenders drummer and Herefordshire local Martin Chambers.

It will be a poignant night for him as one of the band’s founder members, guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, is buried in the churchyard at St Peter’s.

Calver added: “I was in church on Sunday and looking at a couple of people whose combined age was more than 170 so promoting a rock music gig may seem odd but for several of us Mott the Hoople and Verden’s playing are part of the soundtrack of our lives.”

RK Festival 2012 takes place at Lyde Arundel, Canon Pyon Road, Hereford on Saturday October 13th from 6pm. Tickets can be reserved in advance with payment of £15. (Cheques payable to RKFestival fundraising). Contact St Peter's on 01432 760 835