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United States walking club books in for Isle of Man Festival 10 February 2006

    News about the Isle of Man Walking Festivals has now spread as far as the United States. Ten bookings for the June event have already been received from two separate sources in Florida.

    Festival Organiser, Terry Marsh, explained: ‘The bookings confirmed so far include a return visit from John White who travelled from Florida to take part last year and by coincidence a separate walking club in the area is also bringing a group to the Island. This has come about thanks to the efforts of an Isle of Man resident who also lives in the USA for part of the year.’

    By the end of January over 40 bookings had been registered and with more information leaflets still to be distributed the indications are that the Festival will be in for a bumper year. There have been a record number of group enquiries with an increasing amount coming from single people.

    Said Terry Marsh: ‘The feedback we have received from single people ‘of a certain age’ tells us that many are returning this year because of the friendly atmosphere which prevails among the participants. Originally, we realised some were afraid of being left on their own but they found they were able to mix in with others and have an enjoyable time.

    ‘The message we have been trying to get across is that the Isle of Man Walking Festival is the place to be for anyone who can walk and loves walking in a unique and historic setting. Singles are finding they are comfortable with the way of life in the Isle of Man – the much lower level of crime compared with the UK and the fact that everyone is so friendly.

    Joked Terry: ‘We are not setting ourselves up as a dating agency or anything like that but the Festival provides an ideal platform to enjoy the walking and the socialising. I think this is one of the secrets of its success.’

    An innovation this year is the designation of one particular part of the itinerary as a charity walk where participants can obtain their own sponsorship money to donate to the British Heart Foundation. Leaders will sign the sponsorship forms to confirm the walk has been completed.

    The walk chosen for the purpose is that from Port St. Mary to Port Erin, the most popular on last year’s schedule. It was only available on one day in 2005, but 100 people turned up so this time it will be offered on every one of the five days.

    The summer event takes place from June 18-23 with a mixture of gentle walks and others which are slightly more strenuous. A number of social events are also being arranged with the week coming to an end with a Gramd Ceilidh and the traditional Blister Ball. Others feature a Manx Night, Jazz Night, a quiz, and a concert by the Lon Dhoo Male Voice Choir.

    The October event, new this year, follows a similar pattern but is based in the South of the Island over a long weekend from October 12-15. This also incorporates plenty of social events including a Manx Night and a Jazz Night together with the concluding Ceilidh and Blister Ball.

    Tourism Minister David Cretney said: ‘You know you are putting on what people want when they come back next year. It’s word of mouth that sells events such as this and it is gratifying to hear walkers remark on what a friendly atmosphere surrounds the Manx Festival and that they will tell their friends and colleagues about it. We know from surveys carried out of the value that a ‘safe’ environment brings in terms of our quality of life and look forward to sharing that with many others.’

    • Further information about the June and October Festivals can be found on the official website at www.isleofmanwalking.com. Plans are in hand to categorise the walks, on a separate page, by distance so prospective participants can see at a glance which walks fall within their own comfort zones.

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