Music man’s call to Number 10

Ben Ruth at Downing Street
Ben Ruth at Downing Street

Lancaster music man Ben Ruth was relaxing in the bath when he picked up and opened an official looking government letter.

He was expecting something bleak from the Inland Revenue, or an official complaint about something he had done wrong.

But the 49-year-old Lancaster musician and organiser of Lancaster Music Festival said he nearly dropped the letter in the bath water when he discovered what was inside.

“It read something like, ‘the Prime Minister requests your company at Downing Street’,” Ben recalls.

“I couldn’t believe it. Basically Cameron had asked every MP to choose a community champion, and for Lancaster, Eric Ollerenshaw chose me.

“He was obviously impressed that Lancaster Music Festival doesn’t rely on any grant aid and is trying to be sustainable.”

Ben, who lives in Bath Street, headed down to London on Monday night for a date with the premiere, after getting his hair cut at Esquire’s Barbers, and being suited up by Paul Cusimano from Joseph and Co.

He said: “I have these boots that have pointed steel toe caps attached with gaffer tape. I didn’t think they’d allow me in with them, but Paul said, they reflect your style, so just wear them.”

So Ben headed down to the capital to join other Community Champions from around the country.

He said: “It was a very pleasant event, and I got to talk to the PM about Lancaster Music Festival. There was no political grandstanding, which was very refreshing. In this case it felt like I was a figurehead for everyone else involved in the festival and to be honest there should have been at least six other people with me to accept this.”

Ben added: “If you’ve got something to say, then you should say it, you will most likely get a wider platform and that’s something we should be proud of here in the UK.”

Ben left Number 10 with a goodbye tune on his famed harmonica.

MP Eric Ollerenshaw said: “The Lancaster Music Festival has gone from strength to strength and does so much to promote our great city.

“Initiatives like this are something we should all be proud of and attracting 40,000 ‘festival goers’ to Lancaster last year was a fantastic achievement. I, of course, was also very pleased to be able to demonstrate down south, just how well we do this type of thing up here!”