GRASS Cliftonville successfully fundraise for Oval Bandstand

Established in 2003, GRASS is a resident-led volunteer community group based in Cliftonville providing community projects and opportunities for locals, priding itself on being at the heart of the community.

On February 7th, GRASS successfully raised £31,472 following a year-long campaign to complete the transfer and refurbishment of The Oval Bandstand & Lawns in Cliftonville.

CommunityAd caught up with GRASS Secretary Stephen Darrer to find out more about this brilliant campaign and future plans for the Oval…


What made you start up the original Crowdfunder to make the Cliftonville Oval Bandstand a community space?

After months of hard work and preparation, GRASS had been awarded The Oval Bandstand and surrounding area as a community asset transfer from Thanet Council last year.

It’s been a long road which we embarked on over a year ago, but with this announcement, we are overwhelmed with excitement and hope for the future of this iconic piece of Cliftonville coastline.

The council has placed its faith in GRASS to be suitable custodians of the land, which has such a rich history within Thanet and UK seaside culture and heritage.

This news allowed us to initiate the Crowdfunder so that we could pay the legal fees for the transfer of the freehold. We also identified that some urgent infrastructure works were needed to make the site safe, upgrade the electrics in the kiosk, install CCTV, and repaint the beautiful bandstand to prevent any further damage by the elements. We were delighted to reach our Crowdfunder target! But this is just the start of larger plans to improve The Oval.


Have you been surprised by the feedback and support shown by the local community?

As a community organisation deeply rooted in the community, residents, volunteers and councillors have been really supportive and behind GRASS Cliftonville from the start. Prior to the Crowdfunder, we have held multiple online Zoom community engagement meetings and really got the support of the whole community behind us. We knew that the community wanted The Oval project to succeed and with over 450 supporters and donations received for the project we were delighted. The feedback and comments, without doubt, prove that the community wants a stronger community-led vision and future for the Cliftonville coastline and GRASS Cliftonville is working towards this for the community with The Oval.


The Oval Bandstand is synonymous with so many great events from many decades ago like wrestling, theatre productions etc, is the plan to bring those same type of events back?

GRASS has already hosted a number of events at the Oval, including the Cliftonville Games and a summer season of outdoor cinema screenings. We have proved beyond doubt that the bandstand and surrounding area can once again thrive. We are currently planning Outdoor Theatre in the round, Produce Show, Christmas market, GRASStonbury music day and early stages planning of the possibility of bringing back the massively popular wrestling to the Oval stage. Watch this space!


Now you have surpassed your target, what are the plans next for the Oval Bandstand and when do you think, realistically, you will be able to put on events?

We are really keen to reopen the kiosk and the toilets for the 2021 summer season so that walkers, cyclists, and bathers at Walpole Bay have access to these essential facilities. The kiosk will be used as a community café, selling a range of light refreshments to all the people that frequent the area. All profits will be reinvested to help support The Oval site, as the whole operation will be run as a ‘not for profit’ community social enterprise business. We hope to complete the freehold transfer of the site by the end of March 2021 and are working with Thanet District Council to achieve this goal, so that we can start the urgent improvement works and get the site up and running for the community.

In this time of uncertainty and worry, we know you all need something to brighten your days. We are planning as many events as we can for 2021, even though the ever-changing pandemic situation may force us to postpone or cancel them at short notice. We are keeping optimistic and have been planning ahead and already have dates in the diary. Full listing of events can be found at


Are there any other aims and goals you are looking to achieve through GRASS Cliftonville in the next few years?

We really hope to secure The Oval as the centre of community entertainment for not just Cliftonville but for Thanet. We have lots of projects in the pipeline and are hoping to expand our volunteer opportunities whilst also being able to offer both work experience in the events and hospitality industry. Bringing back live music to the bandstand, with an emphasis on local bands from Margate’s vibrant music scene, is key to our plans.

Most importantly, we want the community to have easy access to the site, and we look forward to building relationships so that we can support other community groups and charities use this amazing community asset. We would like to thank Thanet District Council for their co-operation and support and look forward to engaging further with the community to start the next exciting chapter in the Oval’s illustrious history.


If you would still like to contribute to the fundraiser then donations can be made directly and securely on the website or can be arranged by emailing [email protected]. For more information, visit


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