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LET'S BLAZE A TRAIL OUT OF THE DARK; This is the only place in the world with 150 years of steel-making heritage: Festival can help us to shine again, says 'Secret Millionaire'.

Byline: DAVE ROBSON

A FESTIVAL of fire and steel is set to light up the sky in Redcar in 2011 -a year to the day since work to mothball the Corus blast furnace began.

The Keeping The Flame Alive festival, complete with burning sculpture, torchlit procession and family entertainment, is planned for Saturday, February 19.

And behind the plan is adopted Teessider David "DJ" Jamilly, the Londoner who dished out pounds 75,000 to Redcar good causes when he appeared on Channel 4's The Secret Millionaire.

Touched at the way Teessiders have taken him to heart, DJ -who made his fortune organising lavish events through his Theme Traders company -wants a celebration of this area's steel heritage.

And it's hoped his plan, hatched "over a few pints" with Redcar Boxing Club coach Frankie Wales, will put Redcar on the international map.

DJ explained: "There are festivals around the world, like Up-Helly-Aa in Shetland, which are amazing and really capture the local spirit. There are tourist books which deal purely with such festivals, and global tourists who travel the world to attend them.

"Teesside is the only place in the world with 150 years of steel-making heritage, so no one can compete on that level. Building it around fire and steel is a unique proposition to Teesside.

"We are very much thinking this will build year on year."

DJ admits the festival will cost "a few thousand" and that he's "sponsoring a lot of it."

But he hopes if it succeeds this year, it will become a spectacular, self-perpetuating annual event on the Teesside calendar -and the word will spread worldwide.

The timetable is still being finalised, but it's expected to include, at 5.30pm, a torchlit parade from the Regent Cinema to the Majuba Road car park, where a 20ft "plus" sculpture, crafted by Helen Gaunt and Derek Mosey, will be symbolically torched at 6.30pm.

But there'll also be music at Redcar Bowl, free films at the Regent, fire jugglers, musicians and even free hot grub.

DJ said: "We are putting on as much as we can to make it a very exciting evening.

"Frankie and I are both huge fans of the culture, heritage and spirit of Teesside. We just want to find another way of expressing it."

But why would a Londoner, with no Teesside roots, be bothered? He explained: "Having discovered the area, I love it and I can't walk away. I've been given so much by Teesside and this way, I feel I can give something back.

"With my level of expertise in putting on events, I know you guys can create a gloriously interesting event to keep bringing income to the area for years to come.

"I've been given so much since I came to Teesside -that's my motivation. Now it needs people's support to make it happen."

DJ is aware that in the current climate any financial backing from Redcar and Cleveland Council is likely to be minimal and that with the winter we've had already, February 19 isn't exactly going to be tropical!

He said: "I know it could be a horrible day weather-wise, but if it is, we've got a 'plan B' and if it was to celebrate the blast furnace being back on line, rather than to mark a year since it was switched off, that would be even more fantastic."

Frankie Wales said: "DJ can see it becoming a world class event and he's the guy with the experience.

"It's to celebrate 150 years of steel-making and, hopefully, 150 years more."

* For more information, email David at analucia@themetraders.com or Frankie at frankiewales@btconnect.com

CAPTION(S):

BACKING: Redcar Boxing Club coach Frankie Wales, left, who is working with David 'DJ' Jamilly to host the festival HOPE: David Jamilly, right, and the once proud Corus plant lighting up the Tees sky before it was mothballed Picture right by PETER REIMANN ICONIC: DJ at Corus, above, how we told of the blow, and the festival poster, right
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jan 3, 2011
Words:668
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