PALOMA Faith, George Ezra, Paul Heaton and The Script will be rocking Forest Live this year, on the very stage used by the famous festival at Glastonbury.

Simon Hough, events manager for the Forestry Commission England, has the daunting task of pulling together all seven of the Forest Live concerts each year. Simon has been helping organise the concerts from the beginning, building up their success over the Past 17 years. He began in Yorkshire, and for the Past 10 years has been based at Westonbirt Arboretum in Tetbury.

Simon says they choose artists of a certain genre they know will go down well in the natural setting of the forest, mixed with some more unusual artists to attract people who would not normally set foot under the trees, and also some up and coming artists.

“We have a good record for having the kind of acts people love to see, but we also mix them with acts to draw in a new audiences to the forest.

“Tetbury has a good record for picking the new star. We like to encourage new artists. We had Rag and Bone Man one year before he became such a huge star. This time supporting The Script we have Tom Walker (Leave A Light On) who is tipped to be the latest thing,’’ said Simon, who admits to a sneaky favourite on this year’s selection.

“Well, Paloma Faith gives a fantastic set. she is lovely, interesting and intelligent,’’ he said. “Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbot have Billy Bragg as a one hour support, so that too will be interesting.’’

Simon has a whole army of 150 to 200 volunteers he calls on, plus a committee, all helping to make sure the concerts go with a swing, and ensure there is no damage to the arboretum. “We are a green field site so everybody tries to respect that. We are pretty slick backstage too.’’

Simon says that most of the acts that come to the concerts are not outlandish with their requests.

One guitarist needed a certain type of guitar string. We had to try TO find it in a field in the middle of the Cotswolds. One year Tom Jones was going to arrive buy helicopter so we had to cut all the grass, and then it rained so he didn’t fly in.

“But it is usually just specific food [we get asked for]. We rarely get people asking for Fiji coconut water or whatever.’’

Many of the stars that play the Forest Live gigs also take an interest in the trees. “I remember Jarvis Cocker wanted to be shown around,’’ said Simon.

The event manager also has to supervise the logistics of the infrastucture of the site including the marquee, bars, food outlets and the stage crew.

“It takes a week for us to get set up and we have a crane bringing in the Glastonbury stage. But they are all slick operators and we work well with the suppliers too.’’

The idea behind the concerts is to raise awareness of the forests, bring in new people to discover the joy of woodlands, and to raise money to fund projects from wildlife conservation to improvements for visitors.

“We need to get the message out there. We need to wave the flag and bring in much needed revenue. We do have our own box office,’’ said Simon, who fell in love with trees and all things conservation when he was a youngster.

He became ranger for a few years before becoming events manager.

“I come from Scarborough and we had the forest on our doorstep and we would visit it as children. I loved it. I preferred the forest to going to the seaside which was also close.’’ For tickets or details of any of the concerts call 03000 680400 or visit - Flicky Harrison