A Bedford schoolboy became a local sensation at the weekend after appearing on the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage holding up the now-iconic ‘Bedford Isn’t Sh*t’ t-shirt during Tom Grennan’s set.
Ewan Foster, 16, was at the festival with his mum, Steph, dad, Colin and 19-year-old sister, Niamh and although Colin is a Glastonbury veteran since 1998 (highlights: Blur, Primal Scream, lots of mud), it was Ewan’s first experience.
To celebrate Ewan finishing his GCSEs at Sharnbrook Academy, dad Colin bought him the t-shirt from Esquires – a tongue-in-cheek nod by the music venue to Bedford’s oft-maligned cultural scene.
The family was determined to be in the front row for fellow Bedfordian Tom Grennan’s set on the Other Stage on Saturday, so staked out their spot at 11am.
“Tom came on stage at 2.15pm so we watched The Lathums – they were incredible – before him and had some lunch,” said Ewan. “My dad held our spot for us.
“It was one of the best sets I saw all weekend. He’s so energetic, he didn’t stop and got the crowd going. On one of his songs, he got everyone to crouch down and then jump up all together. It was brilliant.”
Asked if Tom spotted him holding up the t-shirt in the front row, Ewan said he can’t be sure.
“I think he saw us at the start,” said Ewan. “It looked like he pointed to the t-shirt and said ‘No it isn’t’, I think.”
To clear up the mystery, the Bedford Independent contacted Tom.
“Performing up there, Ewan caught my eye in the front row. He’s right, Bedford Isn’t Sh*t!
“Half of the town came to Glastonbury with me last weekend. I love the people, I love the community. Thank you so much to everyone who came to see the show and bought the album – this record is for you!”
In addition to the BBC coverage, The Observer used a crowd photo from the gig as their headline shot of the festival – with Ewan and his t-shirt front and (just right of) centre.
“That was a bit of a shock,” said Ewan.
The weekend was another belter for Bedford-born Tom, who was not only making his Glastonbury debut but also celebrating his second number 1 album, What Ifs and Maybes.
He also found time to join former-Spice Girl, Melanie C during her set, dueting with her on When You’re Gone, her 1998 hit with Bryan Adams.
“Playing Glastonbury was a truly amazing moment for me,” Tom told the Bedford Independent.
“And to walk on to that stage with the #1 album in the country for What Ifs & Maybes? Wow. It means the world to me.”
Back at Esquires, where it all began, owner Gareth Barber said: “I still find it quite surreal seeing quite how big Tom has become, whether it’s on TV, headlining festivals, seeing what he’s been up to on social media and so on.
“He’s testament to how far talent can get you, paired with hard work – he doesn’t stop, he’s hungry and it should be an inspiration to any young musician.
“I still think of him as Tom who pops down and then gets thrown out of The Pad, rather than the megastar he has become and it’s a strong trait of his character that he’s still that lad whenever he comes home.
“You don’t get two number 1 albums without being a bit special, which he is.”
Asked about seeing Esquires’ Bedford Isn’t Sh*t t-shirt out in the wild, Gareth said: “It was great to see Ewan representing the t-shirt in the front row.
“The t-shirt and slogan have kind of taken on its own lease of life and seeing it full page in the weekend Observer was even more bizarre, but I’m grateful to the editor for allowing the (slight) profanity through.”
Thanks to social media, Gareth managed to track down Ewan so they could give him a special Esquires ‘thank you’.
“We’ll be showering him with more merch, some gig tickets and planning something a bit special with an artist we know he loves, who we have coming up here later this year.
“If you want to be as cool as Ewan you can grab some Bedford Isn’t Sh*t merch from our online store at bedfordesquires.co.uk.”