You may not have heard of Dame Agnes Weston but an online event will celebrate her life and works next week.
Aggie, as she was known, was a Victorian philanthropist who did much to support sailors and their families at a time when pay in the Royal Navy was low and conditions poor. She had some close ties to the Isle of Wight.
She began writing to serving sailors in and went on to open the first Sailors Rest in Plymouth in 1876, followed by one in Portsmouth in 1878. Her good works soon came to the attention of Queen Victoria, hence the link to the Island. In 1892 the Queen issued a Royal Warrant bestowing the title of “Royal” on the sailors’ rests.
Inspired and organised by Ryde resident Maureen Forster, ‘Aggie Fest 2021’ will be streamed on YouTube at 19:30 on Friday 26th March.
The evening will feature a range of local and mainland folk singers performing songs about seafaring life. These include Devon folk singer Jim Causley and local sea shanty group Guith. There will also be poems, a children’s story and recollections of what Aggies charity has meant to local Islanders.
”There are many ex-Navy people living on the Island – my partner, Allan, joined up when he was just 15 years old. This date would have been her birthday and we wanted to mark the occasion with an evening of music and memories.
“The modern day Aggies charity continues to provide much needed help and support to Navy personnel and their families. Aggie Fest aims to celebrate this through songs about the sea together with memories of those who know of the good works of the charity.”
Aggie Fest first began in 2019 when Maureen organised a series of local events in and around Monkton Street in Ryde. Plans for a bigger event last year had to be shelved due to COVID-19 but Maureen decided that taking the festival online this year was the best way forward.
Those tuning in to the event will also be asked to make a donation to the Aggie Weston charity.
For more information head over to https://www.facebook.com/events/3934577859896244/.