The Isle of Wight’s Monkey Haven has been named as the best Small Visitor Attraction in the country by tourism chiefs at VisitEngland.

On Monday 24th April, the primate rescue centre was given the top spot in the 2017 Awards for Excellence at a ceremony hosted by comedian Sue Perkins at London’s Hilton Waldorf.

A spokesperson for VisitEngland, the country’s official Tourist Board, commented: “Congratulations – winning the award allows you to claim justifiably to be the best in your category in England.”

The animal sanctuary just outside Newport is home to rescued monkeys, owls, meerkats and other exotic creatures. The judges praised the Keeper talks, website, new signage and high standards of maintenance.

It’s been a hugely successful year for the team, as in February, they were awarded a prestigious gold accolade from VisitEngland and they’ve maintained their top slot on TripAdvisor as the most popular attraction on the Isle of Wight.

Founder Don Walser, who attended the ceremony with his daughter Kelly Wickes commented: “We are amazed and delighted! This award means so much to us. Six years ago, when we set up a primate rescue centre on the Isle of Wight, everyone thought we were crackers. Now we’re the best small attraction in the country.”

“We’re a small charity but thanks to the support that we’ve had, we’ve been able to continually expand and evolve and care for growing numbers of creatures in crisis, from monkeys who’ve been smuggled through customs to meerkats who’ve been victims of the cruel pet trade.”

Don, who attended the ceremony wearing his lucky monkey tie, added: “Thank you to everyone who has made this possible – our dedicated team of staff and volunteers, and every single person who’s visited us or supported us in any other way. This award is for you all.”

  • Monkey Haven is open every day from 10am. The new free App is out now! Please visit for more info.

For further information, pictures or quotes, please contact Kelly Wickes on 07740 106279 or email


National Ferry Fortnight, 6 – 20 May 2017

Britain’s annual National Ferry Fortnight will this year take place from 6 – 20 May 2017. Now in its ninth year, National Ferry Fortnight is run by Discover Ferries, the industry body for the ferry industry as a two week showcase of Britain’s extensive 75-plus ferry routes and the benefits of travel by sea.

This 2017 Discover Ferries’ National Ferry Fortnight campaign theme is Ferry Together – encouraging family and friends to spend more time together.  Research undertaken by Discover Ferries at the beginning of 2017 highlights how little quality time families are spending together due to the hectic nature of modern life. Results showed that the average family spends just three weeks of real quality time together each year, and just 36 minutes on the average week day. In comparison, adults spend almost four times as long – one hour and 55 minutes per day – watching TV or playing on their gadgets. Children are also staring at a screen of some kind for around two hours and 22 minutes a day.

As a result, two thirds of parents say holidays and trips away from home are the only real time they get together. Going out for meals together was found to be the best way of spending quality time together on holiday, followed by doing activities together, the evening entertainment and the journey there. And almost half of those surveyed said the entire holiday counts as quality time.

Bill Gibbons Discover Ferries director said: “Our research has shown just how incredibly important every second of holiday time is in our busy lives. Almost half of the people we surveyed said their whole holiday counts as quality time together.  Our members do their utmost to make the ferry journey the very start of the family holiday experience. Unlike an airplane where you’re strapped in alongside each other in front of computer screens, a ferry journey gives people time to stretch their legs, eat a meal together or watch wildlife together. National Ferry Fortnight will be a celebration of ways to spend that treasured time together.”

The 11 members of Discover Ferries are Brittany Ferries, Caledonian MacBrayne, DFDS Seaways, Irish Ferries, Isle Of Man Steam Packet Company, Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, NorthLink Ferries, P&O Ferries, Red Funnel, Stena Line and Wightlink. During National Ferry Fortnight 2017 Discover Ferries’ members will be publishing holiday ideas and added-value offers on ferry routes to France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Ireland, Isle of Wight, Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly and Scottish islands.

To keep in touch with #ferrytogether #NFF2017 please follow @discoverferries on Twitter, like Discover Ferries on Facebook and sign up to the newsletter on




Discover Ferries press office, Four Travel

Contact: Arthur Duncan / Debbie Hindle/Zoe Poulton

Email:  | Tel: 0203 697 4200

Going beyond The Fringe on the Isle of Wight

What started seven years ago as a “social experiment” by a group of six 18-year-old friends, is now a showcase Fringe Festival that could become one of the leading events of its kind in the UK.

It will be fascinating to see how Ventnor Fringe continues to develop.  But based on the past seven years, there is every likelihood that what books have done for Hay-on-Wye, food has done for Ludlow and music for Dingle in Ireland, performance art might yet do for the town of Ventnor.

Based on an Edinburgh model, albeit on a much smaller scale, Ventnor Fringe now has seven years of history that it can call upon, as well as an increasingly bright and visionary future.

In the meantime the 2017 edition scheduled to take place between August 8th and 13th will also incorporate Ventnor International Festival – or “VIF”, for short.

The Ventnor Fringe, which coincides with the annual Ventnor Carnival, has already become an occasion that visitors to enjoy while they are on the Island.  But, helping to set the Friday apart in a six-day festival, VIF (according to Ventnor Fringe Director Jack Whitewood) is set to become “all about attracting more people who want to discover new sounds on England’s largest Island.”  It will feature emerging talent: all signed artists, but the kinds of acts which organisers believe will include many of the stars of the future.

A multi-venue festival featuring a carefully curated line up of the most exciting emerging artists from across the UK and beyond, it’s a place to discover the next big thing – with entry available through one, £30 wristband.

A new focus for the Ventnor Fringe, which completely dominates the entire town for six days in August, VIF is already starting to attract interest and curiosity in equal measures, and in a way that could see more visitors than ever before making their way to the Island specifically to enjoy a part of the Fringe.

The 2010 Ventnor Fringe attracted 200 people, mostly from Ventnor itself.  Today, there are 3,500 tickets available for the six day Fringe, with at least 30% of those going to people who live on the mainland, or overseas.

“It’s the Island’s only urban Festival,” explains Jack.  “It has its own vibe, and energy, and is based in venues which include churches, old halls, basements, warehouses, laundrettes, barber shops and even some of the local’s front rooms.”

Ventnor Fringe now operates out of its own HQ – the Ventnor Exchange, which is described as a “dynamic creative hub and hangout on the Isle of Wight combining a craft beer bar and record store”.  Full details can be found at – and, in the very near future, watch out as well for the Exchange offering visitors to the town the opportunity to join in with a whole range of “experiences”, such as joining a local photographers in some of their own favourite locations.

VIF, meanwhile, has even opened-up the possibility for organisers to offer its visitors special hotel packages, featuring local hotels and tickets to the event.  A writband for the Ventnor International Festival, plus accommodation at the Leconfield Hotel with breakfast and use of the swimming pool, starts from £78 per person.  For more details, visit:

Comparisons with Edinburgh, and with Dingle in Ireland, are inevitable.  Still in its infancy VIF is nevertheless the Isle of Wight’s answer to an urban music festival in a selection of the town’s coolest spaces.

“I can’t think of anything else on a scale as small as Ventnor trying to do what we’re doing – in a small town of just 6,000 people,” says Jack.

“It can all appear a little weird, and very quirky.  But eventually world-class will be ‘made’ here.  Ventnor was originally built as a health spa town – and the Fringe is a modern take on that.  The environment influences what we do.  This is authentic.  It’s not a made up attraction.  And what we’re saying is that the Ventnor Fringe is the way to discover the Island’s blossoming cultural scene.”

Cowes, Isle of Wight to commemorate wartime anniversary with four days of Polish-themed events

The Isle of Wight, and Cowes is planning a series of very special events to commemorate one of the most remarkable days in the Island’s recent history.

The four days of events, between May 4 and 7, will mark the 75th anniversary of a ferocious overnight aerial attack on Cowes and East Cowes by the German Luftwaffe.

The attack consisted of around 160 fighter-bombers, sent in in two sorties, between May 4 and 5, 1942.

Fortunately for Cowes, the Polish Destroyer ORP Blyskawica was in the harbour at that time and also happened to be heavily armed.  Despite some 70 deaths, Cowes was saved and, to this day, the Cowes and the Isle of Wight remains extremely grateful to the Polish Navy and the crew of the Blyskawica.

Coincidentally, the ORP Blyskawica was built by leading shipyard JS White in Cowes in 1935 and launched in 1936.

ORP Blyskawica meaning “Lightning”, and pronounced Bweeska-veetzah, along with sister ship ORP Grom meaning “Thunder” were originally commissioned by the Polish Navy, which, in the post-First World War era had recognised their comparative maritime weakness to adjacent Germany.

Originally intended for Baltic service, the pair were then the fastest destroyers in the world and exceeded expectations during sea trials in the Solent.

The destroyers’ service in the Polish navy however was short-lived and, in August 1939, both destroyers, along with the small destroyer ORP Burza, left their home port of Gdynia in Poland to join forces with and come under the command of the British Navy.  Grom and Blyskawica returned “home” to Cowes, where their crews were billeted around the town.  There remain to this day many descendants of those who wedded and raised families on the Island.

The ORP Blyskawica regularly returned to her home port of Cowes for refits and it was on one of those occasions, while under the command of her captain, Wojciech Francki PN DSC, that the Luftwaffe carried out their attack.

Despite a refusal by the Admiralty to allow ships to remain armed whilst docked, the Blyskawica acquired additional ordnance from Portsmouth and was well armed.  That night, Francki and the Blyskawica crew put up an impressive defence of the town and their ship throughout the raids.  The intensity of her gunfire, coupled with a smokescreen laid across the town, dramatically reduced the effectiveness of the raid.

Some 70 people lost their lives as the result of the attack, but Blyskawica and Francki were acknowledged as “the saviours of Cowes”.

The commander’s private war that night received little acknowledgement from the Admiralty – Francki received a despatch on July 20, 1942, from the Commander in Chief, Portsmouth, referring to “the good work done by Commander Francki” and offering “an expression of Their Lordship’s appreciation of their good service on that occasion”.

But there are memorial plaques on the Parade in Cowes and also in the Town Square.  And between May 4 and 7, Cowes will be staging a high profile series of events aimed at fully marking both the bravery of the Polish navy, and the gratitude of the town.

Visitors to the Isle of Wight for the occasion will find everything from photographic and painting exhibitions, to shop window displays and bunting; and from a Polish food and craft market, to the dramatic appearance of both a Polish warship ORP Krakow and British type 45 destroyer.  The Polish Ambassador will attend the events, and there are hopes that a sailing race around the Island will be organised by the Polish Yacht Club in London.

Other events have also been arranged, and full details can be found at

For further tourist information, and accommodation details, visit

For all tourist information about the Isle of Wight, visit


For further information about The Isle of Wight, please contact:  Sue Emmerson, Tel: 07766 705672, Email:

Notes to Editors

Working in partnership with Visit England, Visit Isle of Wight Ltd (VIOW) is responsible for developing tourism and attracting more visitors to the Isle of Wight.   As well as the consumer website the DMO also operates a small industry website containing recent research and tourism news along with links to Visit England reports and opportunities

Get social media updates from Visit Isle of Wight.   Go to,,,,


A new, luxury, exclusive venue opens for business on the Isle of Wight

Haven Hall is a new venue, offering an idyllic setting for weddings, exclusive-use ‘house party’ gatherings and corporate away days.

Its location, on top of the cliffs at Shanklin, with stunning views overlooking Sandown Bay, helps make it an ideal backdrop for all manner of events – or just a relaxing holiday.

The house and grounds have been extensively refurbished and landscaped giving Haven Hall a tranquil atmosphere in a relatively isolated location.  The cliff path that circles the Island is just a few steps away from the garden gate makes it easy for guests to enjoy a stroll and explore the area.

Haven Hall’s seven bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms are described as “a perfect blend of period style and modern facilities”.  The generous family style rooms feature luxurious interior design, beautiful views and all have super-king sized comfortable beds and chandeliers.  Each room is different and distinctive, with differently paneled headboards and special lighting effects.

Further accommodation is available in seven apartments, which include everyone’s favourite: The Penthouse.  This two bedroom suite features an ultra chic lounge with leather sofas, and a kitchen with marble countertops.  The quirky period décor extends onto a private Victorian balcony overlooking the entire garden with spectacular views of the whole of Sandown bay.  Both bedrooms have super-king size beds, high attic ceilings and period features, as well as three en-suite shower rooms.

All of the accommodation has been carefully designed for comfort so that guests can feel inspired and relaxed.  While no children under 18 are permitted to stay, the property also features a beach hut, swimming pool and tennis court.

Perfect for small, exclusive weddings, Haven Hall is now also taking bookings for corporate events, and houseparties where groups of friends and relatives can come together and enjoy their little bit of Haven on the Isle of Wight.

Sample prices for Haven Hall are: £247 per room per night, with a 30% discount for three nights or more.

Further details can be found at

Visit Isle of Wight, meanwhile, has a special page on its website forcusing on weddings venues across the Island, which also features the chance to win a two-night stay at The Hambrough in Ventnor, with free entry to Ventnor Botanic Garden, Osborne, and ferry travel for two.  For full details, visit

Fairy Festival promises all things magical

Fairy dust is in the air as Blackgang Chine prepares to host its ‘fairy fling’ festival over the Bank Holiday weekend, Saturday 29 April – Monday 1 May, from 10am – 6pm.  All would-be fairies, pixies and their friends are welcome to come along, join the fun and celebrate all things magical at Blackgang’s Fairyland!

Blackgang’s very own Fairy Queen and her NEW fairy helpers Fairy Aqua, Buccaneer, Blunder, Blossom, & Forrest will be on hand to share their magic spells and sprinkle their fairy dust around the park – plus there will be a special visit from the Fairy Queen’s own Unicorn, ‘Wally’ too.

A festival of fun is planned for the enjoyment of all the family.  Fairies, pixies and their friends can visit the wishing tree and ‘make a wish’, enjoy the ‘live’ Fairy Show, take part in fairy dance workshops and be enchanted by the fairies’ story-telling with Cedric the friendly Dragon. Plus, meet our woodland characters, marvel at the magic performed by our wandering Wizard, listen to beautiful harp sounds in Blackgang’s fairyland and enjoy lots of other entertainment too.

Plus, for all those in arriving in fancy dress, there are special prizes for the best dressed fairies, pixies and sprites!

There are magical surprises around every corner this May Bank Holiday at Blackgang Chine.  For more details, please visit


For further information please contact Michelle Russell, Marketing & Communications Manager, Vectis Ventures Limited : 07436 283630 /

Jack up the 80’s – Not too sexy for this party!

Organisers of the family friendly festival which takes place on the 12th and 13th August are excited to announce Right Said Fred to join their best line-up ever!

“They’ve had Number 1’s all over the world and are another of those acts we’ve been after for several years now” said event organisers.

All the way from Putney it’s brothers Fred and Richard Fairbrass – yes it’s Right Said Fred and these boys know how to party!

Their show is all about having fun in the sun. They offer an infectious sound with a string of recognisable hits. You’ll hear Don’t Talk Just Kiss, Stick It Out, Deeply Dippy, I’m Too Sexy and many other upbeat fun-loving tunes so come and let your hair down with The Freds this August.”

Fred said: “We love the Isle of Wight, we first came here in 1991 as guests of the Radio 1 Roadshow. We’ve heard so many great things about Jack Up The 80s from bands in the business and can’t wait to be part of this fabulous weekend of family entertainment.

We can promise a blistering party set on Saturday 12 August with all the classics and a couple of new songs like our current single Sweet Treats.”

Jack Up The 80s is a two-day retro pop festival held on the Isle of Wight in its fifth year and provides a family weekend of musical entertainment from household chart names, food, attractions, kids arts and crafts and stalls.

The event is fast making a name for itself as the most fun festival on the South Coast.

It offers an unbeatable atmosphere and is completely safe, inclusive and affordable for all. In excess of £20,000 has been raised in the past 2 years for local charities and good causes.

Other confirmed artists include Aussie heart-throb Jason Donovan, Soul sensation Alexander O’Neal, super talented singer songwriter Nik Kershaw as well as 1981 Eurovision winners Bucks Fizz, From The Jam and The Real Thing with yet more names still to be announced.

The event will be at its new easy-to-get-to location Smallbrook Stadium in Ryde. Also new for 2017 a Friday Night Opening Party hosted by Wave 105’s Steve Power and Number One Abba tribute band Abba Chique, with tickets priced at just £10 for the evening it’s the ideal extension to what’s gearing up to be the most memorable weekend of the Summer season.

Shuttle buses will be provided from Ryde Esplanade and there will be a designated taxi depot on site.

Weekend tickets are priced at just £48 until the end of April. Kids aged 12 and under go FREE!

Tickets can be purchased by visiting Tickets are also available at a number of outlets around the Isle of Wight.

Copy ends

 Notes for Editors

  1. For further information please contact Sarah Moss, Event Manager


Telephone: 07876 631456

  1. Image attached shows brothers Fred and Richard Fairbrass of Right Said Fred


The Royal Isle of Wight Agricultural Society launches new Gardening and Outdoor Living Area at 2017 Royal Isle of Wight County Show

This year’s Royal Isle of Wight County Show on 25th June is set to be bigger and better, with the launch of a brand-new area, encouraging us all to spend more time in the great outdoors.

The Gardening & Outdoor Living Area, sponsored by Jewsons, will have something for everyone, from gardening to mountain biking, for every pace of life and lots of advice on how to get more out of life in our beautiful countryside.

Jewsons General Manager for the Isle of Wight, Ron Bowler, explained their involvement,

“With Jewsons being such a well-established business with its roots in the Island culture, we feel it’s right that we support the 2017 Royal County Show and look forward to sponsoring the Garden and Outdoor Living Area.

We are sure the work done over the past few years by a dedicated team is the springboard to placing our County Show back on the map of county shows, showcasing the Isle of Wight and all that is has to offer from business to leisure.”

Taking inspiration from the world’s best gardening shows, 10 inspirational show gardens are being planned, created by local designers, organisations and charities to showcase their skills and inspire us all with ideas to take away and recreate at home.

The Gardening & Outdoor Living Area will also house the new, County Show Theatre space, which will host the Show’s ‘Gardeners Question Time’ and throughout the day a timetable of fascinating seminars, demonstrations and workshops.

With lots of extra trade stands offering all you might need to fully enjoy this year’s season and well beyond.

Graham Biss, County Show Chairman said “this new dedicated area dovetails extremely well with the existing activities at the County Show and responds to the feedback we received after last year’s show. We hope it allows local businesses to showcase their products and services and gives visitors to the show the opportunity to learn more about particular aspects of gardening and the varied outdoor activities which take place on the Island”.

Almost an event in its own right, Gardening & Outdoor Living is set to become one of the most popular areas of the County Show, now in its 118th year, as it continues to grow with audience expectations and deliver its legacy as one of the Islands premier events.


Editor Notes

Royal Isle of Wight Agricultural Society (RIWAS).

The RIWAS is a member led registered charity that works to:

* Support Island agriculture and the conservation of the natural environment

* Raise awareness and promote understanding of rural issues to all Island residents

* Offer financial support to help Island students to further their studies in agriculture, the natural environment and related subjects.

RIWAS arranges the Royal Isle of Wight County Show, the show where cattle, sheep and poultry come first. A fantastic day out for all the family, combining entertainment and fun with the opportunity to enjoy many aspects of Island country life and farming. Proceeds from the Show support the RIWAS Rural Careers Fund – a scheme which offers financial support to people aged under 25 (and exceptionally, older) and with a strong connection to the Isle of Wight. The scheme is intended to add value to the Isle of Wight’s farming and land-based industries by offering financial support to help young people gain relevant qualifications or skills.

There are two categories of award from the Fund:

Scholarships of up to £3,000 each are awarded annually.

Bursaries of up to £200 which are considered regularly throughout the year.