AN inclusive festival which has been running for almost 40 years is returning to Mersea this summer.

The annual Mersea Island Festival is held each August at Essex Outdoors Mersea.

The festival aims to bring together young people and adults with or without a physical or learning disability to take part in activities that help build confidence.

Families, youth clubs and groups for young disabled people are all welcome.

The festival attracts more than 500 people from all over the UK and sometimes abroad.

There is a week camp and a weekend camp which both offer a wide variety of activities.

Festival organiser Tom Brennan said: “This year we have climbing, archery, quad bikes, water activities, football and dance workshops.

“I run a rock band workshop and it’s brilliant as you get the shyest of people come on the Monday and by the Wednesday they are full of confidence.

“The laughter is incredible.”

This year the festival will take place between August 18 and 26.

Each year the festival has a different theme and this year there will be a blue party in memory of the event’s founder, social worker Sue Powell.

There are tents and cabins for members to sleep in

and all meals are provided along with evening entertainment.

The whole site is on one level and the halls, bar, toilet and shower blocks are wheelchair accessible and the swimming pool has a hoist.

The festival used to be run by Essex County Council but in 2000 it was threatened due to financial reasons.

Tom and a group of others set up the Mersea Island Festival Trust to fill the funding gap.

The trust now has total ownership of the festival and gets support from rotary clubs and the Mersea Lions.

Most of the entertainers work for free and the staff are all volunteers who give up their time.

About 380 tickets have been sold already and there are opportunities for more volunteers to come on board.

Week tickets for adults are £262 or £235 for under 18s.

Weekend tickets are £158 for adults or £141 for under 18s.

Day tickets are also available for a minimum of £30.

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