And it’s incredibly powerful.
Laura Whitehurst wrote an open letter of thanks to the Eavis family and the entire Glastonbury festival team, after they did everything they could to ensure her safety at the 2017 festival, following her sexual assault.
Publishing the letter on her blog, Life on Laura Lane, she explains the incredible efforts made by the festival team, thanking them for not only enabling her to attend the festival safely, but also for enabling her to actually enjoy herself.
‘I was lucky enough to get tickets to Glastonbury for the first year ever, with a group of friends who were equally as excited as I was,’ Laura explained in her letter. ‘WhatsApp groups sharing outfits and line up rumours sprung up within minutes of receiving the golden tickets, and June 2017 could not come soon enough.’
She continued: ‘Unfortunately for me, something horrible happened in April 2017, months before we were due to jump on the 2 am coach down south. I was sexually assaulted by two of these “friends” after a night where I had mistakenly put my drunken trust in these guys at an after-party. My memories of the night were hazy; the drunken texts with other friends to come and save me, coupled with the injuries I sustained were not.’
‘At the crisis centre the next day, as I lay sobbing on the table being photographed and probed by four nurses, I received a barrage of phone calls and threats from certain friends telling me to go home, to not report it. Telling me that no it wasn’t consensual but “don’t ruin the group” and “don’t ruin Glastonbury for us all”. The nurses were asking me to report it to the police, but I was receiving 15 voicemails a day with threats from these friends, and with every threat received, another inch of my fight would disappear.’
Laura went on to explain how the harassment got increasingly worse, and she was forced to block numbers and Instagram accounts of people who were sending her threats to not attend the festival. After eventually reporting the assault to the police, it was recommended that she didn’t attend the festival and that she should get in touch with Glastonbury to try and get a refund.
In her letter, Laura explained how she filled in an enquiry form on the website, not expecting a reply, but was contacted immediately, with the Events Operation Lead, a former police officer called Adrian calling her and asking Laura to tell him what happened.
‘Instantly he set to work,’ she wrote. ‘He told me he would do everything in his power to make sure I could attend the festival, and would put a safeguarding procedure in place to ensure I could. He contacted the detective constable at the police station dealing with my case, and together they devised a plan. Despite the fact he – as the Events Operations Lead – had one of the busiest jobs in the world weeks before the festival, he dedicated himself personally to me. I was overwhelmed.’
Laura was sent a car parking pass in the post, allowing her to travel to the festival without running into the group on the coach, with a special camping area, and safety precautions put in place.
Upon arrival she was given a letter from Adrian ‘addressing whomever received it that “the bearer of the letter must have her requests for her safety taken seriously and she must be taken to safety immediately”’.
‘I was asked to carry this letter, along with a list of numbers, with me throughout the whole festival, just in case,’ Laura explained in her thank you letter. ‘I was also passed two hospitality wrist bands, one for Tom and one for me. These offered us a space behind the Pyramid and Other stage which had quieter bars only accessible to hospitality wrist band holders so in case I became overwhelmed or needed a place to clear my head a bit, I had it.’
Thankfully Laura didn’t have to use the letter, explaining ‘I was safe. I was really really safe. I made some new great friends, I saw some incredible acts, my tan lines are ridiculous, my hangovers were unreal and at the end of it all, I didn’t feel like a victim, I felt like someone who had finally been to Glastonbury.’
She concluded: ‘So, this letter is to say, thank you. God I wish there were a stronger sentiment. Not many people would be aware of the amazing work you did for me – you didn’t do it so you could write about it, or get a pay rise, or for glory, you did it because you really cared. ‘
‘I am writing this to say that people really care. Sometimes when you lose all hope, the unbelievable and altruistic kindness of strangers can help give you the strength to keep fighting.’