HAND SIG­NALS

Mu­sic fes­ti­val is sign of the times

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - By Natalie Tip­ping ntip­ping@thek­m­group.co.uk @ntip­pingKM

Ev­ery­body should be able to en­joy mu­sic: that’s what or­gan­is­ers of Bearsted Mu­sic on the Green be­lieve, which is why this year they’re in­tro­duc­ing sign lan­guage in­ter­preters.

The an­nual fes­ti­val, a cal­en­dar sta­ple in the vil­lage, al­ready has at least 40 deaf peo­ple due to at­tend this year.

Ruth Cor­ney, one of the or­gan­is­ers, said: “Be­ing deaf should not deny you from hav­ing ac­cess to events, but deaf peo­ple con­tin­u­ally have to fight for equal­ity. Our per­for­mance in­ter­preters don’t just fo­cus on words, they use fa­cial ex­pres­sions and body move­ments, and are truly amaz­ing to watch.”

The event ran for 12 years un­til or­gan­is­ers called it a day in 2013. It made a re­turn last year af­ter Mrs Cor­ney and friends Jo Con­ner, Craig Ben­nett and Wil­liam Wood formed Bearsted Events, a com­mu­nity-in­ter­est com­pany.

The 2016 event sold out, with all 3,500 tick­ets snapped up, and raised al­most £16,000 for char­i­ties in­clud­ing the NSPCC and The Good­man Cen­tre.

They are hop­ing this year will prove even more pop­u­lar with the in­ter­preters, pro­vided by Per­for­mance In­ter­pret­ing, open­ing the event up to all.

Mrs Cor­ney was in­spired to take this step by a friend, An­drew Belcher, whose fam­ily lives in the vil­lage. All of them are pro­foundly deaf.

She said: “I am lucky to have the Belcher fam­ily in my life, as they have taught me so much about their daily com­mu­ni­ca­tion strug­gles, and al­low­ing them and many of their deaf friends ac­cess to Mu­sic on the Green is just the start of some­thing spe­cial.”

In­ter­preters will help deaf vis­i­tors nav­i­gate the fes­ti­val and com­mu­ni­cate with emer- gency ser­vices, as well as vis­i­bly hear­ing the per­for­mances. There will also be a spe­cial per­for­mance from 15 chil­dren, aged be­tween 5 and 11, who have been work­ing hard to learn two songs us­ing sign lan­guage.

The fes­ti­val will be held be­tween noon and 9.30pm on Sun­day, Au­gust 27.

Visit mu­si­con­the­green.co.uk

Pic­ture: Andy Pay­ton FM4856493

An­drew Belcher, sec­ond from right, with Mem­bers of the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee of Mu­sic on the Green Jo Con­ner, Will Wood and Ruth Cor­ney

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