Parents left shattered by the death of their son are raising money for two vital charities which have helped them battle through their grief.
Yvette Bowler, 63, and husband Paul, 61, lost their son Keith Parvin to suicide in 2018. He was 35. The music festival fan had struggled with his mental health for many years, though he seemed on the surface to be a happy-go- lucky chap and had a great sense of humour.
Desperate with grief, Yvette decided the best way to pay tribute to her son would be to organise a mini-festival in his honour.
“It was only meant to be a couple of bands and maybe a hundred or 200 people,” she said.
Lockdowns stopped the event and the festival, named Keith Fest, was postponed an agonising four times.
But through adversity comes bigger and better things sometimes, and as word got around about Keith Fest the event grew and grew.
The festival will finally be held on June 25 – but now it will have a staggering eight bands, two bars, camping and a host of other attractions, all for £10 for adults, with kids going free.
Yvette said: “Keith loved music festivals.
“Everybody thought he was just so happy on the surface. They knew he struggled but he hid it a lot of the time and in the end he just couldn’t cope.
“Keith had been ill for a long time and we knew it might happen one day.
“In 2019, about six months after Keith died, I kept seeing his friends going to festivals on Facebook and because Keith loved music festivals I felt I wanted to organise one in his memory – I feel so strongly we need to help the charities that help.
“Around 125 lives are lost every week to suicide – 75% of them are male – and these two charities are doing their best to help people.”
Yvette is being helped by one of the charities herself. Suicide & Co are a relatively new charity which offers counselling to those bereaved by suicide.
Calm – Campaign Against Living Miserably – have phone lines open 365 days a year from 5pm-12am (0800 585858) and online chat for people who are struggling.
Each will receive half of the proceeds from Keith Fest, being held at Henstridge Airfield and being headlined by top tribute band Ironed Maiden UK tribute band.
Keith’s little girl Honey-Rose is now five and is proudly telling everyone: “My daddy’s having a festival.” She’ll be in good company on June 25 as Yvette and her husband Paul, and Keith’s brother Daniel host the festival, with a bouncy castle, inflatable skittle alley and face painting for the children to enjoy.
Yvette said: “It’s just grown so much. I’ve got an amazing amount of really brilliant draw prizes and raffle prizes, including a pressure washer, vouchers and a £175 barbecue.
“Castle Garden Centre in Sherborne are lending us trees to be used as memory trees for people taken by suicide.”
Keith Fest will start at noon (campers from 11am) and go on till late, featuring Ironed Maiden, Bad Uncle, The Unusual Suspects, Cock Eyed Squid, No Thursday War, Unknown Identity, Red and Sugar Rush.
The airfield is offering flights for up to three people (depending on weight) in a light aircraft – half an hour for £100, weather permitting.
Parkway Brewery is supplying a bar, with a specially made ale in Keith’s honour and Twisted Cider will also run a bar. Virginia Hayward hampers are supplying the lorry for the bands to perform from.
n Tickets are £10 in advance for adults (£15 on the day), with camping £5 per adult only in advance. Children 16 and under free.
To buy tickets go to keithfest.sumupstore.com or Corner House newsagents Sherborne, Ring filling station Stalbridge, Henstridge Village Shop, 477 Barber Club in Sherborne or Bryan Goss in Yeovil.