Big names lined up for Preston Guild 2012 celebrations

PUBLISHED: 18:41 23 May 2012 | UPDATED: 20:29 20 February 2013

Wallace and Gromit with Andrew Flintoff in Preston

Wallace and Gromit with Andrew Flintoff in Preston

They've waited 20 years and Preston Guild is set to be bigger and better than ever, as Paul Mackenzie reports

Think big says the sign on the wall in the Preston Guild offices and no-one could accuse Stella Hall and her team of ignoring the message.
Prestons once-every-twenty-years party gets underway this month and the year will include a programme of arts and cultural events on a scale rarely seen outside the big cities.

A special Preston Passion film will be broadcast on BBC One on Good Friday, which will combine live action with footage shot on the streets this month and next. And organisers are hoping to close a deal soon to bring Jose Carreras to perform at a Proms in the Park event in September.

The contract has yet to be signed that should happen any day now and talks are also being held with other star names for the classical bill that night, and the rock and pop concert which will also be held in Avenham and Miller Parks the following night.

In the run up to the Olympics that other big event of the year legacy has been mentioned as often as the Games themselves and Guild director Stella says its as important here, as it is in London, in spite of the economic gloom.

The threat of a double dip recession makes it a challenge but I really believe we should be supporting celebrations like the Guild, she said. The events we will be hosting will be indelible in the memory and it wont only be an overnight thing, the Guild needs to have a real legacy.

We have had to scale back some things because we lost 1.5m funding when the regional development agency went. There were two or three large events I would have liked to have hosted but we are now not able to but many things have survived and I dont think the gaps will be apparent.

The Guild will help position Preston where it has not been in recent years as a city at the forefront. There has to be a look back to history and a careful holding in trust of the heritage but there has also got to be a look to the future.

Stella, who took up her post in Preston two years ago, has previously run major festivals in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Belfast, but despite her busy cv, she says she has never worked on an event quite like the Guild. It is such a unique and unusual occasion. The origins of many traditions have been lost but the origins of the Guild are very clear.

Prestonians have the Guild close to their hearts and all parts of the city will be a part of the Guild. The message is be a do-er, not just a viewer. Its not like in previous jobs Ive had where I have been director, the Guild is led by the city council but involves the widest possible range of people, from scout groups to major players in business.

I could not have imagined the level of support this project has received. Hundreds and hundreds of people have been involved, either directly as volunteers or by attending presentations, business breakfasts. The pride is starting to come out, Im feeling a buzz and an electricity.

Guild celebrations have been held in Preston every 20 years since the 1500s and along with the pageantry of the traditional civic parades and processions, the Guild year will see a number of contemporary projects across the city, including the creation of a photographic record of communities in 2012, the launch of an online game and a drama based on the real life stories of men who worked in manufacturing.

Local people are being encouraged to get involved in singing and performing at the Olympic torch relay and at a Singing the Docks event which will form part of the annual Riversway Festival.

And there will an international flavour too Stella is in talks with a New York artist about bringing her work to Preston and French percussionists Les Commando Percu will be performing their pyrotechnic show On The Night Shift in the city in September.

We will be celebrating the Guild throughout the year and everyone in the city will be doing things, Stella added. Its about doing things bigger and better gilding events for the Guild. The Guild is a call to arms, a call to quality. If you have an event, whether its an AGM or a garden fete, its got to be that bit extra this time round.

Prestons Guild honours

Guild organisers are seeking nominations for 20 honorary burgesses, Prestons own honours. Anyone can be nominated if they have made a significant contribution to the city.

Nominations can be made from January 18 and the people chosen will receive a Guild certificate and be inducted into the Guild merchant.

Guild director Stella Hall said: It is only titular but it is an acknowledgement of a significant contribution to Preston.

Preston Guild Events

The history of the Guild dates back to 1179 when King Henry II granted Preston the right to have a Guild Merchant and gave the town its first royal charter.

The first reliably recorded celebration of the Guild an organisation of traders, craftsmen and merchants was in 1397 but it has taken place every 20 years since 1542.
Prestons traditional Guild Week has been extended this year to 10 days. Here are a few key dates.

August 31: Opening of Guild City Festival

September 1: Trades Procession

September 2: Guild Mayors civic procession and divine service at the Minster

September 3: The Guild Court. Churches Procession

September 4: Mayoral International Reception

September 5: Guild Mayoral Ball

September 7: Community Procession. Jose Carreras to headline classical concert.

September 8: Torchlight Procession. Rock and pop concert.

September 9: Guild Mayors civic procession and service of thanksgiving at the Minster. Grand firework display. Performance by Les Commandos Percu.

Katherine Jenkins to join Jose Carreras at the Preston Guilds Proms in the Park

Katherine Jenkins, the worlds most prolific classical artist is to sing with Jos Carreras in a world first at Preston Guilds Proms in the Park on Friday 7 September.

The Welsh Mezzo Soprano, who has sold over seven million albums, is to return to the UK after completing a season on Americas Dancing With The Stars, to prepare for this special one-off open-air concert on Avenham Park as part of the Preston Guild 2012 celebrations.

Preston Proms in the Park will attract 10,000 people and is expected to be a sell out as it will be a unique opportunity to see these two international classical stars perform together.

The 2 hour concert will see the two stars sing solo and together in what promises to be a classical spectacular and will undoubtedly create one of the most memorable images from the Guild celebrations.

Katherine at the age of only 31 has become an ambassador and inspiration for millions of people around the world and is cherished as one of Britains favourite singers. As dusk falls she will take to the stage with Jos as he sings for the first time in the UK since 2009.

The opera superstars will be supported by Conductor David Gimenez and the 62 piece Manchester Camerata Orchestra.

The Preston Guild Proms concert tickets go on exclusive sale to all residents that live in a PR1-5 postcode from 10am on Tuesday 29 May until 5pm on Wednesday 30 May and are available by phoning the Box Office 0845 344 2012 or calling into the Box Office. The tickets will then go on general release on Thursday 31 May and will be available by calling the Box Office number or online at or priced at 65 each.

Stella Hall, festival director at Preston Guild 2012 said: This is such a coup for the Guild to have two global stars sing together on stage for the first time ever. We are absolutely thrilled that Katherine has agreed to perform at the concert and this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those that are present.

Katherine Jenkins says: "I'm really looking forward to taking to the stage with Jos at Preston Proms.

It's the first time we've performed together on stage and I cannot wait. I hope the fans are as excited as I am!"

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