ALL SMILES: Steve Reay’s wish to play at The Witham will come true in June, when he has been invited to take part in a busking session
ALL SMILES: Steve Reay’s wish to play at The Witham will come true in June, when he has been invited to take part in a busking session

A TEESDALE entertainer who penned a tuneful plea to play a gig at Barnard Castle’s arts centre has seen his wish come true.
Steve Reay, from Wackerfield, spent six months during lockdown perfecting his single, I Just Want a Gig at The Witham, after seeing fellow musician Sam Nixon perform at the venue as part of its Acoustic Café sessions.
After penning the song, he recorded it at a home studio and released it online, hoping to attract the attention of the venue to secure a performance slot.
Officials have now been in touch and offered him a slot, performing in venue’s garden when The Witham reopens to customers.
Mr Reay said: “I got a message from Jill Cole, from the Witham, and I kind of thought I was in for a good telling off, because the track does poke a considerable amount of fun at The Witham and folks don’t always find the same things funny.
“But when I listened to the message, she said she thought it was great and invited me to do a spot performing.
“It’ll be sometime in June, outside for a busk in the garden on a Saturday. I’m pretty excited at the prospect.”
Trustee Ms Cole, said: “It was great to hear the song and it did make us chuckle.
“What was lovely was his interpretation of The Witham and how he wanted to be part of it – and this is about opening our doors to everyone in Barney and Teesdale.”
She added: “If all goes to plan, we will have busking style performances in The Witham gardens each weekend from the beginning of June throughout the summer to give space to people who have not been able to perform live because of lockdowns.
“Ideally we will have something every weekend and hope to continue the classical programme on Sunday afternoons and so we would love to hear from anyone who wants to get back in front of an audience and play again.”
The garden sessions will enable friends and family to enjoy a cup of coffee and cake while enjoying the busking performances.
Two areas of hard-standing in the garden have been organised for performers and suitable arrangements have been made in case of wet weather.
Ms Cole added: “We’re waiting for approval from Durham County Council, but I’m fairly certain things will go ahead and we will have safety as the first priority.”
Any performers who are interested in booking a slot at the Witham should email jill.cole@thewitham.org.uk.