More ‘ups’ than ‘downs’ at new and exciting island kite festival

Hundreds of kite enthusiasts flocked to the Isle of Wight’s Bembridge Down last weekend for the first ever Up & Down Kite Festival, thanks to Spectrum Medina’s Natural Wight project. 


The inaugural kite festival, organised by the Natural Wight team in partnership with The New Carnival Company, took place on Bembridge Down, near Sandown, Isle of Wight on Saturday 15th September 2012. Rather than simply displaying fantastic kites from around the world, the festival showcased the ingenuity and creativity of Island people, by supporting residents in making a range of nature-inspired kites for themselves.

Looking to truly involve the local community, a number of workshops were held in Spectrum community flats, schools and other community settings across the Island in the months leading up to the festival. Other opportunities for involvement included training ‘kite leaders’ in how to run group workshops, and a weekend-long kite making master class at the Carnival Learning Centre.

 “Natural Wight is all about raising awareness of endangered Island wildlife as well as encouraging people to celebrate nature and our fantastic Island environment …  what better way to spend the day outdoors than by flying kites, and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty no less!” said Claire Hector, Natural Wight Project Co-ordinator.

The festival was attended by over one thousand people and started with a community kite-makers procession from Yaverland along the coast and up to the National Trust-managed Bembridge Down.  A range of fun family activities were on offer including performances from Fat Samba and alternative morris dance group Bloodstone Border Morris, kite flying by schools and community groups using kites made at the workshops, plus an on-site kite repair workshop, and an aerial display from Skybums.

“The day was a great success and exceeded our expectations in terms of turn-out” said Rachel Jagger-Thomas, Project Manager of Natural Wight. “This was definitely helped by the glorious weather which was perfect for kite flying”.

Rachel adds: “The event has created a lot of positive feedback and we are seeing lots of people posting fantastic photos on facebook and other social media channels. There appears to be real appetite to make this an annual event, so we hope to be able to run it on an even bigger and better scale next year!”


Notes to Editor

About Spectrum Medina

Spectrum Medina, with its headquarters in Newport, Isle of Wight is part of Spectrum Housing Group.

Spectrum Medina manages nearly 3,000 homes on the Island including general needs housing for rent, sheltered housing, a leasehold scheme for older people and a Foyer which provides high quality accommodation linked to training and employment access for young adults aged between 16 and 25.

About Natural Wight

Natural Wight is a two year project, managed by Spectrum Housing which offers a range of activities designed to encourage young people and Island residents to explore and enjoy their local environment. It blends practical conservation activities and educational events for young adults, younger children and families. It also has creative community activities for people of all ages and abilities designed to raise awareness and understanding of the beauty, accessibility and biodiversity of this unique Island landscape.

Natural Wight Project has been funded by the Access to Nature Programme.  For more information on Medina Housing Association’s Natural Wight project, please contact Rachel Jagger-Thomas, Natural Wight Project Manager or Claire Hector, Natural Wight Project Co-ordinator on 01983 824275,

About Access to Nature

Access to Nature is run by Natural England and is part of The Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme launched in November 2005 to help communities enjoy and improve their local environments.

Natural England manages this £28.75  million Lottery-funded programme on behalf of a consortium of twelve national environmental organisations comprising BTCV, British Waterways, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Greenspace, Groundwork UK, Land Restoration Trust, The National Trust, Natural England, RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts and the Woodland Trust.

Through this programme, it is Natural England’s ambition to create opportunities for people from all backgrounds to have greater access to our natural environment and bring a lasting change to their awareness and understanding as well as improved links to the natural world, which many of us can take for granted. Access to Nature closed to new applications in May 2010 but for further information about the programme visit

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004. It was established by Parliament on 1 December 2006. Full details of the work of the Big Lottery Fund, its programmes and awards are available on the website:

About The New Carnival Company 

The New Carnival Company is a recently established Community Interest Company (CIC) set up to sustain and extend the current portfolio of nationally acclaimed carnival arts development work emanating from the Isle of Wight. The New Carnival Company is proud to be one of Arts Council  England’s new National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) tasked to deliver high quality participatory arts activity over the next three years. It is the only NPO on the Isle of Wight and the only Carnival specific NPO in the South East region. For further details contact The New Carnival Company at their workshop and offices in Sandown 01983 717868 or

About Spectrum 

Spectrum Housing Group comprises:

  • Spectrum Medina
  • Spectrum Signpost
  • Spectrum Signpost Homes
  • Spectrum Property Care
  • Spectrum Western Challenge
  • Spectrum Premier Homes

Spectrum Housing Group owns and manages over 18,000 homes throughout the South, South West and Midlands. The Group’s vision is: “Great neighbourhoods, homes and services and a great place to work”.