by Tim Nuttall
Withernsea Methodist Church’s monthly Food, Friendship and Fun sessions are set to return on January 25 with acoustic duo Oakleas Rise taking to the stage as the event’s first guests of 2024.
Comprising singer-songwriters Lesley Curtis and Stuart McLeod, the duo perform a variety of self-written folk, country and roots music, interspersed with well-known covers of popular songs such as California Dreaming and Time After Time.
Lesley and Stuart first met as two solo performers in 2011 and gelled instantly – leading to a collaboration in songwriting for Lesley’s third solo album Looking for the Girl. A more formal partnership followed, with the duo deciding to work together as Oakleas Rise for the release of their first album Little White Lies in 2019.
Since moving to Welwick in the summer of 2022, Lesley and Stuart have embraced the Holderness community – playing various events including Withstock, the Food and Folk Festival in Valley Gardens, and venues such as the Crown & Anchor pub in Kilnsea.
More recently, the duo have set up their own recording studio where they are able to record local artists and small scale projects. They are currently working on a new, as yet untitled, album which is set for release later this year, and are also involved in the production of a folk opera which will debut in Withernsea in March.
It was while working on this project that the duo first met Gordon Beastall, organiser of the Food, Friendship and Fun events, and they were delighted when he asked them if they would perform at the church.
Lesley said: “It always feels such a privilege for us to be able to play our music and share what we do with others. When we got offered the opportunity to promote a feeling of community, through the bringing together of food, music and companionship, we jumped at the chance.
“We are so looking forward to making new friends and being of value to the wider community in which we now live and love.”
Food, Friendship and Fun sessions take place between noon and 2.30pm on the last Thursday of each month. They offer entertainment alongside a simple lunch of soup and a bread roll, followed by a selection of homemade buns. While the food is free, an opportunity to leave donations is offered if desired.
The events take place in the Community Room at Withernsea Methodist Church in Hull Road. The room is wheelchair friendly, with the venue also featuring an accessible toilet to ensure inclusivity for all. Access to the Community Room is via the footpath at the left side of the church, which will be signposted on event days.
Since their launch in April 2022, the monthly free-to-attend Food, Friendship and Fun events have continued to grow in popularity – helping to bring the community together by offering attendees the chance to socialise in a safe and relaxing atmosphere.
They have also provided a platform to showcase the talents of local performers, from poets and raconteurs to singers and musicians, who freely offer their time and expertise to entertain those who attend the events.