‘WoofwoofStock 2018’ kicks off on August 30 and will feature a host of live performances running at venues across the city throughout the month, until September 30.
The doggy-inspired festival was dreamed up Sheffield charity Support Dogs, with the aim of raising funds to support its work in the city.
“The idea came to us as we realised next year is the 50th anniversary of the legendary Woodstock festival,” said fundraising manager Danny Anderson.
“We have previously run a few fundraising concerts and they have proved really successful so we really wanted to repeat this, but on a grander scale.
“The idea of a festival at one venue over the course of a weekend would be really difficult for a small charity like Support Dogs to manage, so we have come up with this idea of a ‘virtual’ festival, where a large number of supporters can get involved and support us with a number of events at different venues held over the course of a whole month.”
The festival will launch at the Greystones Pub, on Greystone Road, on August 30, with a doggy-themed family fun day. Throughout the afternoon there will be food, games, a bouncy castle and a dog show with categories including cutest pup, waggiest tale, best biscuit catcher and best golden oldie. From 8pm there will be live music, playing until late.
“Greystones has a great reputation for supporting charities, as well as supporting great music,” Danny said.
“We were thrilled when they offered to put on this festival launch party for us free of charge. With it being so close to Endcliffe Park, we hope the event will attract many dogs walkers who use the park, as well those who just fancy a great summer’s afternoon and evening of fun.
“And though we can train our amazing dogs to do many incredible, life-transforming things, sadly singing isn’t one of them. Therefore we are looking for musicians and venues of all sizes across the city to get in touch and help us raise some vital funds for our work, to support those affected by autism, epilepsy and disability.
“Many of the dogs we train come from rescues centres or come to the charity as unwanted pets, so your support will also help to transform their lives too.”
It’s been 26 years since Support Dogs launched in the city. Back then, the Sheffield charity had just three dogs, and its home was a small hut in the grounds of Lodge Moor Hospital, on the outskirts of the city.
Today, Support Dogs is unrecognisable. Now a national charity, its staff of almost three decades has successfully trained and supplied hundreds of assistance dogs to people all the way from Portsmouth to Dundee. The special partnerships it has helped to create, between canines and clients, have completely transformed the lives of hundreds of people with epilepsy and autism, as well as those with physical disabilities.
Support Dogs is dedicated to increasing independence and quality of life for children and adults with some truly challenging conditions. Through its three training programmes – for disability support dogs, autism dogs and seizure alert dogs – the charity uses an entirely reward-based system to teach special dogs to carry out a wide range of tasks that make life safer and easier for its clients. These include giving a 100 per cent reliable alert before an epileptic seizure, keeping a child with autism safe and happy, loading and unloading washing machines, opening and closing doors, fetching medication and going for help if required. And while the day-to-day impact of this is clear, the wider effects on the mental wellbeing of the client, partners, parents and family is also a vital factor that shouldn’t be under-estimated
The charity’s chief executive Rita Howson, who has been with the charity for 25 years. said: “In its early days, Support Dogs concentrated its efforts in training dogs to help people solely with physical disabilities.
“It was in 1993, while training a dog for a disabled woman with epilepsy, that the charity decided to also train the dog to predict the woman’s seizures. Within three months the dog was giving a 30-minute warning of every seizure. Truly life changing.”
Danny added: “It costs £2,000 a year to provide the 24/7 support necessary for a working support dog partnership, and we would love to raise this figure from this year’s WoofwoofStock festival.
“We rely entirely on voluntary donations and so every donation really does make a difference to us.
“We also hope to use the festival to recruit volunteers to help us with future events, and also as doggy foster carers and puppy socialisers, to help us care for our dogs whilst they’re in training.”
WoofwoofStock is being supported by a number of musicians throughout the month, including local country singer Banjo Jen, who will be raising funds at a number of her concerts being played across the city throughout September.
If you know of a venue or a musician that would like to help support WoofwoofStock, email the team at [email protected] or call the charity direct on 0114 2617800.