On Friday night renowned DJ Graeme Park walked on stage for his headline set at Hardwick Festival.

But just five months ago, as he was preparing to embark on the Haçienda Classical 2023 tour, his 18-year-old son Oliver died after a fight with cancer.

Oliver had a rare form of cancer called sarcoma and tragically lost his battle on March 22.

Read more: Hacienda Classical at Hardwick Festival, Sedgefield, day one

“I've been doing a lot of fundraising and making people aware of sarcoma,” Graeme said. “It is a very, very rare cancer that affects the soft tissue in bones. I've got twin boys, and one of them, sadly, lost the fight to cancer on the 22nd of March.”

This life-shaking blow came a mere months before Haçienda Classical was due to embark on its 2023 tour and during the all-important pre-production phase.

“The first three months of the year, when it was clear, he was getting worse, I had to take time out,” Graeme said. “Everyone involved in the show was being very patient and understanding.

The Northern Echo: Graeme ParksGraeme Parks (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

“I normally spent three months on the show, but obviously that was the last thing on my mind. Everyone was like, ‘No, it's fine. Whenever you're ready.’”

Park is credited as one of the original founders of the UK’s rave scene, particularly for his leading role at The Hacienda nightclub in Manchester which became famous during the “Madchester” era.

The Northern Echo: Hacienda Classical at Hardwick on Friday (August 18) night.Hacienda Classical at Hardwick on Friday (August 18) night. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

Haçienda Classical brings arrangements of much-loved, defining records within its wide repertoire of tracks. The show features a blistering live DJ soundtrack from Graeme Park married with a full orchestra, additional musicians, vocalists and special guests in a fully live experience. It opened the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2017.

Looking at his diary, just weeks after the passing of his son, Graeme was shocked to see that it was less than a month until the first show of the tour.

He recalled: “I noticed that the first Haçienda Classical show was on the 11th of May. About three to four weeks before then I was going through my diary and I thought, ‘Oh my god, the first show is in four weeks’.”

“I thought, ‘Right, there are over 100 people in the show, I've got to start working on it’ and it turned out really well.”

The Northern Echo: Graeme Park DJ'ing at Hardwick.Graeme Park DJ'ing at Hardwick. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

Working on the show while working with charity Sarcoma UK has been a source of strength for Graeme over the past months.

Now in its eighth year, Hacienda Classical continues to keep its visceral concerts fresh and innovative. The shows include massive hits that had fans dancing in the fields at Hardwick on Friday (August 18) night.

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“I always take the view that you can't do the same show every year,” Graeme said. “You've got to freshen it up and bring new songs in.”

“I do love the North East, that's why I'm regularly out here. It's such a great part of the world and hopefully, I'll be continuing to DJ up with you for a while.”

The Northern Echo: Crowds enjoying the show on at Hardwick.Crowds enjoying the show on at Hardwick. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

“Hardwick Festival is an amazing festival in a great, great location.

“We're honoured to have been asked to launch the first Friday night.”