Dave Morrall tells us about his experience volunteering for Tonic at Boomtown.
Hi, if you are reading this you are probably interested in volunteering or getting involved with Tonic, which is awesome!… But maybe you want to know more?... We all have our reasons to volunteer and I'd love to share mine with you.
Let's take it as read that we all want to volunteer to give back to the community and make a difference – that's a given – but what are our personal reasons and how do we choose which charity or event we get involved with?
For me, my family are my first love, and my second love is music – in particular, live music. I love festivals and gigs with a passion. For the past few years I've been part of a group of ‘fezzie friends’ and we have had some great summers of festivals and scooter rallies. We were a happy mix of ages and personalities and it was my safe happy circle. I have been very socially anxious in the past so to find my tribe was a gift... then (and it's a long story) the group all went in different directions and that was that! I have such lovely friends but, being over 50, a lot of my friends want to join rambling groups and have cozy couple's weekends in the Cotswolds, which is probably lovely if you're not the single pringle of the group, but I still want to bounce around in a field at a festival!…
So, I was lucky enough to be taking part in the recent Tonic wing walk ‘Barry's Flying Circus’ when Ma' Tonic and Dawn mentioned volunteering at Boomtown! Well, it was a no-brainer for me. I knew Ma' and Dawn and I'd met Dawns husband ‘Toot’ along the way. Here was an opportunity to help Tonic and do my bit for this amazing charity AND hang out with lovely like-minded people at an awesome festival! Win. Win. Happy days!
The day of the festival arrived and the weather was tropical. I'd had a nightmare journey, but hey-ho, it happens sometimes. I arrived at a field full of every kind of festival folk you could imagine – from the young fresh-faced students, to the wise ole Rasta, everyone is here for a good time. Due to the traffic, I'm running late, so I leg it to camp as quick as I can, with lots of high fives and hugs on arrival, and then it's time for a quick team brief before I'm off to ‘Do me bit’... I'm not gonna lie, I was a tiny but worried when I heard the term ‘Confiscation Team’, as I wasn't too comfortable taking boogie boxes and other belongings off the party people, so I was very relieved when I discovered we are actually the good guys and simply look after said items.
I can honestly say I had nothing but good banter from everyone I dealt with all weekend. I was paired up with a great lad called John on my first day who was a legend around the festival crew. He had worked on the build team at Boomtown and had worked on the gates for years, so he knew his stuff and showed me the ropes and answered any questions. I had no problem at all, so my first shift was done and it was time to explore!…
I've been going to festivals since I was 15. I've done all the big ones – Glastonbury, Reading, V, Bestival – but I have never... EVER... seen anything quite like Boomtown. It is unique and you really have to see it in person, as I took a hundred pictures and none of them do it justice. It's truly amazing... So, day one was coming to an end and it had been a long day. There was nice chill out at camp and I met some more of the lovely Team Tonic. I was a bit late getting to site and was dreading putting up my tent, so it felt like all my Christmases and birthdays had come at once when Toot had kindly put my tent up for me!! What a True Gent... and what a relief!
Day 2 and a bit of a change. I'm on the Tonic stall with the lovely Ma' Tonic and the wonderful Tom, and we are taking over lovely Naomi who is now another dear friend (if you join us, you will have the privilege of meeting these legends). And then it was Team Toot 'n' Dave for the afternoon shift! It was so nice to catch up with Toot and we really bounced off each other, selling lots of Tonic merch and generally having a right ole giggle. Toot very kindly invited me to join him and his festival sidekick (his delightful daughter Alana) and we headed for the party!
One of the great things about nice people is they generally surround themselves with other nice people, so I had the pleasure of making more friends in the Tonic crew: ‘Noodles’, who is just a joy, and another Dave, so of course we formed a boy band called '3D'!... Somewhere along the line we acquired 'Daaaaaaaaaavvvveeee'! And so we become '4D', and so on!
We had an awesome night out mooching around the old town and watching the amazing bands, one of the best nights out I've had in a long time. Everyone in the Tonic team are wonderful. You will never be alone and of course there is no pressure to go out and party – you are more than welcome to chill out and do your own thing. In fact, there are very few rules: keep our camp tidy, respect your fellow crew, represent Tonic in a good helpful polite manner, and don't go to your shift drunk or stoned! And that's about it really.
You get to stay in crew camping, which is in a very nice spot
On days worked, you get three meal vouchers to spend wherever you wish (and there are lots of amazing choices)
You get a festival ticket
And, of course, you get the pleasure of our company!
Dawn and Steph are always a joy to be around and they will make sure you are well organised and have everything you need. You will meet amazing people from all walks of life. My anxiety sometimes makes me talk for England to cover it up – make eye contact with me and you may get my life story, but that's fine. Quirks and imperfections are not only accepted but embraced! In fact, the only thing I will be changing for next year is I'll be trading the Fred Perry for sparkles!
I've made some wonderful friends for life during my Tonic Boomtown trip, and I've experienced a truly unique festival... Being part of the family this week has been a Tonic in itself, so if you're thinking about getting involved... go for it! You have nothing to lose, awesome friends and memories to gain, and you will be supporting an awesome charity! And you may even get to hang out with Disco Zebra.
Peace, love and good times.