Sidmouth man is among Devon’s 100 ‘lockdown legends’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 September 2020

Ashley Leeds performing in his garden.

Ashley Leeds performing in his garden.

Ashley Leeds

A Sidmouth musician who performed gigs in his back garden to cheer up his neighbours has been named as one of Devon’s 100 Lockdown Legends.

Ashley Leeds performing his 100th gig in his garden.Ashley Leeds performing his 100th gig in his garden.

Ashley Leeds is among those listed in the ‘entertainment’ section.

The search to find 100 people who deserved recognition for their community activities during lockdown has been led by Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), and supported by Archant, the publisher of the Herald.

The aim was to celebrate and thank people who had shown ‘particular kindness, courage, humanity or ingenuity’ during the pandemic.

Mr Leeds usually plays the pub circuit with various bands, and runs the ‘open mic’ sessions at Dukes during the Folk Festival.

Lockdown Legend, musician Ashley LeedsLockdown Legend, musician Ashley Leeds

He said: “During lockdown, I performed a gig in my back garden every lunchtime to give me a focus and also bring a bit of musical joy to the local residents of Fairlawn Court and the retirement flats at Home Meadows House who overlook our property.”

In wet weather, he played his music indoors, and all the gigs were videoed and shared on his Facebook page.

As well as lifting people’s spirits with music, he set up an ‘empowerment group’ with two friends, Vic Williams and Rachael Howarth, to help local people through the pandemic.

His 100th performance was marked by a surprise presentation of a decorated cake by Vic Williams.

He was nominated as a ‘lockdown legend’ by his two daughters, Jessica and Megan, but said he was surprised to make the top 100.

He said: “I don’t see myself as a legend but I’m over the moon that people want to pin that on me, and I’ll take it because of some of the things that people have said.

“So many people have said I’ve helped them through this.

“One day I was walking down to the beach with Vic and he said, ‘do you realise what you’ve done? You’ve been a ray of sunshine to these people.’

“All I’ve done is play my guitar, but I think people need something to hold on to. I was a constant for people.”

The full list of Lockdown Legends can be seen here

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