Martyn is a patron of Festival Spirit, a new charity set up to bring together young, and not so young, disabled people with the aim of giving them the experience of going to festivals that they would not usually have.
In summer 2010 the Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper, in partnership with the Jumbulance charity, took a group of 8 young people (or “VIPs”) to the WOMAD festival. All had life-limiting or very serious illnesses and most came from Douglas House Hospice in Oxford. Each had their own carer and were accompanied by 8 able bodied young people to “buddy” them, together with a support team of 6 Rotary club members and other helpers.
The logistics were not straightforward and the group had to overcome various problems. Effectively it was a question of setting up a field hospital in the middle of a festival with special beds, ventilators, oxygen etc. Great support came from the army who provided tents and catering.
The weekend was a huge success and the VIPs had a once in a lifetime experience. Stornoway came to play a special set for them in their camping area whilst they were all taken back stage where Rolf Harris spent time with them.
This all prompted the question – how to build on the experience?
What is Festival Spirit?
Simply the aim is to recreate the experience of those 8 young people at WOMAD for many, many more across the country. We have set up a registered charity to do this – Festival Spirit.
Its purpose is to provide a Festival experience for young people who would not normally be able to enjoy one due to life limiting illness or disability.
The VIPs will come from hospices, ex services amputees, spinal injuries, social services and other charities.
Rotary is the world’s largest international service organisation and the aim is to use that network to roll out the charity across the country and then beyond, through clubs on the continent.
Other well known people from the music and entertainment world have agreed to be patrons to Festival Spirit to help give the charity impetus and credibility, through whatever guidance, support and publicity they are happy to provide.
Those who have offered their support include Nicholas Lyndhurst , Robin Gibb, violinist Ruth Palmer (former Classical Musician of the year) and John Spiers, with hopefully more to follow.
This year the charity has taken parties to Glastonbury and WOMAD, and plans are already under way for more trips in the 2012 festival season.
If you would like to know more or know of someone who might benefit from the charity’s support, then visit the Festival Spirit website www.festivalspirit.org or our Facebook page.