Some music fans are prepared to do without some home comforts to attend the Hebridean Celtic Festival, but it’s not a problem faced by Peter Tenigkeit.
Peter, a student at Western Washington University in the US, is one of more than 100 volunteers from across the world and from all walks of life working behind the scenes to ensure the 21st HebCelt runs smoothly.
The unpaid staff cover all aspects of the four-day event, from ticket collection to overseeing the environmentally-friendly disposal of waste.
Peter, a first time volunteer at HebCelt, studies ethnobotany and human ecology, with a focus on modern day uses of wild foods and wilderness therapy. He lives on a rural small holding with no running water or electricity in a small cabin he built by hand.
He was inspired to visit the Hebrides after listening to the music of Gaelic superstar Julie Fowlis. He said: “I had never been to this festival, but I decided to come because I discovered the music of Julie Fowlis right around the time that I was booking a ticket to see my large extended family all over southern England.
“I looked at Julie's tour dates to see when I might be able to see her play, her music just really spoke to something really deep inside me in a profound way, and I happened to have a few extra weeks of holiday time while I am here.
“I decided to volunteer because I am traveling on a modest student's budget and I have had lots of great experiences with volunteering at festivals in the past. I flew into Gatwick airport a couple weeks ago, and I have slowly been busing and train riding north. I then bused and hitchhiked my way to the ferry terminal to get to Stornoway.”
While in Scotland Peter will complete a one-week apprenticeship with a wild foods expert near Glasgow which he hopes will help him with his university studies at university.
He added: “I am really excited about the festival, especially the chance to dance ecstatically, meet the people on my volunteer crew/campground neighbours, see a bit of the legendary Isle of Lewis, and hear the beautiful Gaelic language sung and spoken.”
The volunteer army is made up of local helpers as well as visitors from across the UK and around the world. Together they contribute over 3,500 unpaid man hours over the course of the four-day festival to ensure all goes according to plan
Returning for the seventh time to HebCelt, and the second year as a volunteer, is John Haynes, 74, from Llangollen, North Wales. John missed last year’s event while receiving treatment for leukaemia but was determined to return.
John, who is staying at the town’s Laxdale campsite, has an ambition to continue camping until he is 79 to complete 70 years of holidaying under canvas.
He said: “I know the islands well as I used to work in this area and if you like music HebCelt is the place to be”, he said. “I was disappointed to miss last year, but I’m someone that looks forward, not back and I wasn’t going to let an illness keep me down.
“It’s great to be back. You always get a great welcome here. There are so many friendly and familiar faces and there is a great feeling about the place.”
Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: “Without our fantastic volunteers we just could not run the festival. Many like John return year after year and have become part of the HebCelt ‘family’, but it is also great to welcome first time recruits like Peter.
“They do a great job working behind the scenes in all aspects of the festival operation and we are extremely grateful for their dedication and enthusiasm.”