• Cheltenham Literature Festival

    BAFA: Festivals mean business

  • Cheltenham Jazz Festival


  • Newbury Spring Festival

    BAFA: Festivals mean business

  • Three Choirs Festival

    BAFA: Festivals mean business

  • Ventnor Fringe Festival

    BAFA: Festivals mean business

  • St Andrews Voices

    BAFA: Festivals mean business

  • Cheltenham Science Festival

    BAFA: Festivals mean business

BAFA Awards

The Exceptional Service Award

Download a 2018 nomination form here.

For significant sustained performance characterised by unusual initiative

This award was first presented in 2011 at the Conference for Festivals in Leicester which was hosted by Leicester Comedy Festival and De Montfort University.

This award is designed to recognise the people who 'work' to benefit a BAFA Member Festival or Organisation:

  • They may be in a paid or unpaid role
  • They may have only worked with the festival for one season or been its backbone for decades
  • They may be from a related organisation such as someone from a local authority who has given industrious support through thick and thin


  • They stand out for their exceptional dedication and unstinting effort in everything they do on behalf of the festival.

BAFA Members are invited to submit nominations to be adjudicated by the BAFA Board. This is not a competitive award; the BAFA Board do not compare nominations against each other, each is considered on its own individual merit. There is no limit to the number of awards made each year.

In 2016 the following awards were presented at the 2016 Conference for Festivals in Hull:

Dr Robert Howard: Artistic Director, Prescot Festival

Nominated by Laura Bonnett: Treasurer, Prescot Festival

Robert established the Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts to ensure opportunities for community cohesion, partnership and engagement, through culture and arts.  He has developed links with several schools within Prescotand created collaborations with several churches and other buildings of note within Prescot and these are now regularly used as performance venues during the Festival.  This year Robert organised events in Prescot Parish Church, The Methodist Church for Prescot and Whiston, St Paul’s Church, and Prescot Town Hall.  This ensures increased use and interest in listed and culturally interesting buildings in Prescot, whilst offering the local and wider community an opportunity to experience the arts.  Prescot Parish Church for example, is the only Grade I listed building in the borough of Knowsley and is used regularly throughout the Festival.

Chris Bragg: Concerts, Performance and Events Administrator, University of St Andrews

Nominated by Sonia Stevenson: Artistic Director, Lichfield Festival

Chris Bragg is one of the most hard-working, committed and on-the-ball people you will ever come across. Exactly the kind of person you want helping with a festival! Chris works for the University of St Andrews and as part of St Andrews Voices’ partnership with the University, some of Chris’ time is gifted to the festival. Other people in his situation could have taken this to mean that they should help the festival with the odd bit of work here and there. Not Chris. He has fully embraced the festival and done everything in his power to make it a success. He constantly goes above and beyond what is required and works tirelessly (even at the same time as becoming a father for the first time this year) to help the festival run smoothly. 

Wilhelmina Cooper - Festival Manager, Deal Festival

Nominated by Paul Edlin: Artistic Director, Deal Festival

Wilhelmina Cooper (Willie, as she is affectionately called) is an extraordinary person who devotes her time and energy to serving the public good.  Either in the capacity of a trustee of an important charitable cause or paid for her work (though never ever at the sort of professional rates that she so deserves), she emboldens any organisation she serves.  In terms of the Deal Festival of Music and the Arts (DFMA), Willie has worked with the organisation since 2003, each year raising sufficient funds for the organisation to deliver its work. Now DFMA is a key part of the arts education infrastructure of East Kent, and Willie is Festival Manager, not only handling the day-to-day smooth running of the organisation, but also raising more money than ever for us to meet the needs of the young people of East Kent.  There are few people as youthful, forward-looking, redoubtable and committed as Willie - and she is, if I may divulge, in her mid-seventies!  She works tirelessly, packing in additional meetings at weekends or in evenings.  A recent accolade has been DFMA’s success in being awarded a Catalyst Evolve Grant by Arts Council England.  Willie enjoys her work because she knows it makes a difference.  Through her commitment to arts and culture, East Kent benefits from outstanding artists bringing their work to this corner of England, supporting and leading education programmes and initiatives and bringing economic benefit to the region.  We are all deeply proud of all that Willie has done and continues to do.   

Earlier recipients:


Claire Tetley, Founder Member, (former) Volunteer Box Office Manager, Lichfield Friends Association Board Member & Lichfield Festival Board Member     Nominated by Sonia Stevenson: Artistic Director, Lichfield Festival

Chris and Alan Henshaw: Festival Volunteers, Cheltenham Festivals           Nominated by Anna Pickton: Production Coordiantor, Cheltenham Festivals


Mark Deller, Festival Director, Stour Music
Nominated by Sue Davison: Organising Committee Member, Stour Music

Felicity Manning, Volunteer Coordinator, Swaledale Festival
Nominated by Janet Hall: Publicity & Marketing, Programming Committee, Swaledale Festival

Sam Gladstone, Director of Music, Portsmouth Grammar
Nominated by Samantha Worsey: General Manager, Portsmouth Festivities

Roddy Loder-Symonds, Chair, Canterbury Festival Foundation
Nominated by Rosie Turner: Artistic Director, Canterbury Festival


Angela Aziz, Volunteer Coordinator, Petworth Festival
Nominated by Stewart Collins: Artistic Director, Petworth Festival

Malcolm Kennedy, Public Safety (LIcensing) Officer, City of Edinburgh Council
Nominated by Jackie Westbrook: Marketing and Communications Director, Edinburgh International Festival


Peter Williams, President, Canterbury Festival
Nominated by Rosie Turner: Festival Director, Canterbury Festival

Robert Stripe, Friends Secretary, Cambridge Summer Music Festival
Nominated by Juliet Abrahamson: Director, Cambridge Summer Music Festival


Jenny Paddock, Festival Director, Bewdley Festival
Nominated by Roger Key: Chair, Bewdley Festival

Stan Knowles, Head Steward, Chester Summer Music Festival
Nominated by Kate Sawallisch: Manager, Chester Summer Music Festival


Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Britain

In the gift of the BAFA Board, this annual award was first presented in 2007 at the Conference for Festivals hosted that year by Buxton Festival and Buxton Fringe Festival and held in Buxton. There are no parameters on whom the BAFA Board may agree to present the award to.

In 2016 the award was presented to Gavin Henderson, Principal of the Central School of Speech and Drama. 

In 2015 the award was presented to Samuel West by Chichester Festival:

In 2014 the award was presented to Roger Wright CBE (seen holding the award) by BAFA Chair George Vass, at the 2014 Conference for Festivals in Canterbury:

In 2013 the award was presented to Sir Brian McMaster CBE

Earlier recipients:

2012: Stewart Collins

2011: Tania Harrison

2010: Richard Phillips 

2009: Michael and Emily Eavis

2008: Nick Dodds

2007: Judith Serota OBE