In 1941, Winifred Winter and a few other members of the Aldershot Methodist Church in Grosvenor Road decided that they would like to do something towards the War Effort by holding a local "mock Eisteddfod" as a one off. Winifred wrote to Joan Coxon, who was then a soprano soloist and well known in broadcasting, to ask her advice. She replied very enthusiastically, and the first Festival was held in the Wesleyan Hall, Aldershot, on just a small scale. The classes were "Choral", "Solo Singing" and "Elocution" and one or two professionals gave their services free. Winifred Winter said that they were very lucky to get Joan Coxon at the beginning of her rise to fame.
The Festival was so very successful that it was decided to repeat it the following year, and then, as it became more widely known, every year. It is now one of the oldest annual Festivals in the country to have been run without a break. The name was changed to "The Aldershot and Farnborough Festival of Music and Art" with more classes being added over the years.
Winifred Winter died in 2003, and her family presented a trophy to the festival bearing her name. It is awarded to the winner of the Open Adult Singing class.
The Festival Today
Today the Aldershot and Farnborough Festival is affiliated to the British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech, with objectives of promoting excellence in the performing arts (Dance, Instrumental, Pianoforte, Speech and Drama and Singing) at all levels and to encourage the participation of the people of Rushmoor, of all ages and abilities. Trained and experienced adjudicators of the British Federation not only grade the performance, but also – most importantly – give an expert critique that is always helpful and encouraging.
The Festival is also fun, we are recognised as being a very happy and friendly Festival. Audience as well as performers are most welcome.
The Festival depends entirely for its funds upon entry fees and the kindness of sponsors. From this small income there is a large outlay for adjudicators, printing, hall rental and in the piano section, hire of the Steinway Grand Piano. This piano encourages many people to enter.