Ray Bethell Comments

UK Adventure 1999 (part one)
Sunderland International
Kite Festival

I have often read over the years about how great the Sunderland Kite Festival is,… now I am going to find out first hand. I had been sponsored by Malcolm Goodman, who by the way had invited me before, but his festival dates had always clashed with my other committed invitations, and the Brighton International kite festival in Brighton a week later. My friend Ray Oakhill, who is also the organizer of the Brighton Festival, met me at Heathrow Airport. I spent two great days with him and his wife Doreen at there home in Brighton, then Barry Pitman and I took the 9 hour bus trip to New Castle where we were met by Lloyd Berriman who was going to be my official baby sitter… and I might add also to all the other international guests, if by the way you are looking for… fun,… laughter…. and a frolicking good time…you will not find it on the 9 hour bus trip from Brighton to New Castle.J

Lloyd drove us to the hotel where all the kiters were staying. It was great seeing so many old friends, some I had only just shared a flying field with a few weeks prior in another part of the world. It is indeed a very small world! It is always a pleasure meeting other flyers that you have never met before. Malcolm was there to greet us and to fill us in on what is going down. Ready for the next mornings meeting with the news media etc, Malcolm was a very concerned about the weather forecast as it apparently rained at last years festival…I put my arm around him and… put his head on my shoulder… and I said no worry mate at 9am in the morning the sun will shine and keep shining for the whole festival, he looked up at me with a big smile on his face and said "could I have that in writing" and sure enough at 9-15am " okay I was out 15 minutes " - no one is perfect - the sun came out and we were blessed with good weather through out the festival, except for a two minute tiny shower on the last day, just before the end of the festival.

The festival was every thing and even more than what I have heard and read about. It was exceptionally well organised, everything running so smoothly. There was plenty of room for all the flyers to do their thing, entertaining the thousands of spectators every minute through out each day. And the real beauty of it was that there was no one running around giving orders or telling flyers what to do, every one seemed to know. And I really liked the harmony in the way all the flyers worked together to help make sure the festival was a huge success and indeed it certainly was. For me it was a real pleasure to see and to feel the respect all the flyers had for each other, I was greeted warmly and very friendly where ever I went,…

"Now Malcolm the cat is out the bag " I know your secret, why your festival is a World class successful event !!! With the flyers and all those wonderful volunteers working together as a Team you have the right combination for a very successful kite festival.

Each day the sky was filled with beautiful kites: A rainbow of colour, Chinese dragons, animals, birds, Japanese kites of every description, Box kites, Rokkaku's, Fighter kites, 2-3-and 4 line Sport kites ect, flown by some of the Worlds best kite flyers and kitemakers, some coming as far away as India, Indonesia, China, Canada, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Italy, plus flyers from all over the UK …There was some thing for every one to watch... great demonstrations from Teams, individuals, kite buggying, Rokkaku battles, Fighter kite battles, and always a great favourite for kids from 1 years old to 90 plus, the Parachuting teddy bears. Outside of the flying arenas there were huge marquees selling affordable arts and crafts, a children's village, face painting, kite making, fairground rides, storytelling and so much more to delight all ages of children. For the adults Folkworks presented an international music program featuring sounds from around the world, bands, singers, and dancers, plus a array of street performers which were hilarious to say the least especially the wacky Aussies police on Emus, this was a festival at its finest.

Congratulations to the City of Sunderland and Malcolm Goodman for an awesome festival. On behalf of all the international flyers I would like to thank you and your lovely wife Jeanette for the great evening we all shared together at your home, excellent food, wine and beer. One of the high lights was watching my good friend Mikio Toki from Japan packing away the chicken legs. He must have eaten four big legs on top of every thing else, I don't know where he put it all, but mind you I must say the 6 pieces of chicken I had were delicious. J It was a great evening! The other high light was spending time in your kite and computer room or I should say kite museum, it is by far the best collection I have ever seen in some ones home. You must be very proud.

Thank you Malcolm for your sponsorship. I had a terrific time and your festival was a huge success and hope in some small way I was able to add some thing to help make it so. And many thanks to all the kite flyers and those wonderful volunteers that made me feel so very welcome, I hope to meet many of you again next weekend at Brighton also at Bristol in September. "Good Stuff"

Thank you for listening,