On Sunday 2nd July the sun shone down on us as we celebrated our biggest event ever, welcoming over 1,400 guests for the highlight of our calendar - Sundial Festival 2023.
There’s nothing quite like the sound of Sundial Festival in full swing, the unique blend of the buzz of activity and excitement combined with the quiet ease of friends and colleagues catching up and making new introductions.
There was plenty to keep the younger guests occupied, including a climbing wall, laser quest, assault course, bouncy castle, swimming, garden games, pole joust, soft play, tennis, fishing, face painting and a photo booth. In addition to this we had a musical session by Suzie song time, inclusive fitness with Stefan and Pathways Education ran arts and crafts throughout the day.
Our partner organisations were out in force, all doing a fantastic job showcasing the superb work they do and highlighting our partnerships over the years. The Cookie Bar Bus took pride of place serving delicious cookies, teas and coffees to guests throughout the day, SATRO brought some VR headsets for guests to try and Sailability brought one of their boats to. One Planet joined us on the day in addition to working closely with several students in the lead up to the event, helping them to create their own eco-system for Undershaw. Challengers, Habitat and PEAS are great examples of our long-term partnerships, where we also welcomed new faces with Briars Field Forest School & Mindfulness for SEN.
Previous Stepping Stones student Joe Johnson was on site filming for our media and production company, Free Bird Ltd, whilst the video series he’s produced about his alumni classmates were displayed proudly on the big screen throughout the day. He also joined the event in a new capacity, dipping his toe into the event catering industry with the debut of his food stall. Joe Shaw Artist also joined us for the second year in a row exhibiting his collection and showing parents and students what can be achieved with talent, hard work and a bit of belief. It was great to see several current and past students present, with Undershaw hosted a re-union opportunity for individuals and their families to catch up and swap stories about their time in school and what they’ve been up to since leaving.
At 3.30pm guests were ushered down to the hill as Undershaw took to the stage to reveal a two-part performance of solos, group songs and a comedy theatre piece based around the story of Matilda. Performing in front of an audience would be a daunting prospect for anyone so to see these students take the challenge headfirst with such confidence and enthusiasm is a privilege to see.
Undershaw’s Head of Arts, James Lindsay was responsible for the performance side, alongside Marcos Allegria and James shared some of his comments:
“I was incredibly proud of the tremendous range of fabulous performances at Sundial this year. We had eighteen wonderful performances representing students in all year groups ranging from Classical music to Grunge Rock, Musical Theatre to Hip-Hop, Choral classic to Bagpipes and everything in-between! The show ended with a brilliant new version of Uptown ‘Sundial’ Funk, composed by Harvey and Lewis with the student and staff band which had the entire audience singing along!”
Marcos has been recording many of the acts (and others) for the 2023 Sundial Album, which you can download here.
Congratulations to everyone who performed and a huge thank you to everyone who helped to make the day such a success.