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Green Space Dark Skies – personal reflections

Two participants in our Green Space Dark Skies Dorset event reflect on their experiences

Hi, it’s Emily and William here telling you about something amazing we did at the start of June.

We were invited to the Green Spaces Dark Skies event. It was part of a national series of inclusive events using creativity to celebrate beautiful natural spaces across the UK. In June they came to Dorset!

A group of us from People First Dorset met at Maumbury Rings early evening, where an old-fashioned double decker drove us to Maiden Castle, an enormous iron age hillfort, only 1.5 miles away. We loved how they’d got bird sounds playing on the bus as it got us in the mood!

We arrived to a wonderful welcome from the organisers, who gave us big red circle stickers to wear. We were in the red group! The atmosphere was great, like a mini festival, people sitting around in the sun and enjoying each others’ company. One big marquee had cool DJ Isaiah Dreads playing in it! The organisers were all so friendly and helpful. Nothing was too much trouble, if you were hungry or were cold – they’d even brought extra boxes of warm clothes. Amazing.

After collecting our headphones (also with bird sounds) and lamps some of us went into a tent and made leaf shaped lights. We didn’t have time to finish them but still took them home as they looked great.

We all sat around a picnic rug, had some food, did some interviews and then had our rehearsal. We discovered the headsets would be used to give us instructions when we were performing later, at dusk, at the top of Maiden Castle.

It was soon time to start…

So, we are now waiting to walk up Maiden Castle with all the other groups. It’s a lovely evening and the atmosphere is calm but electric as the excitement builds. Before we head off, through our headsets we listen to Zakiya McKenzie read a poem.

Then, together we trek up Maiden Castle, not far but steep for some of us!

We’d been put into groups earlier, ours being red, and our group leader led us to our location, at the heart of the hilltop. The lamps we each carried, totally unique and designed/donated by Siemens, respond to GPS signals. They all started to come on automatically, and had a warm pink/orange glow.

A drone circled above, filming the whole event. As the sun set, we put on our headsets and listened to the choreographer Subathra Subramaniam instruct us to what to do. Some of the movements included a walking figure of eight as we held the lamps high. Another was going five steps in, and then five steps out while holding the lamps. We even walked in a circle with the lamps on our heads! It will be great to see what it looks like from above, when the video comes out.  

The final movement involved all groups coming together to make a tear drop. Our group was right in the centre. At the end we all clapped to say thank you.

We both felt privileged to be there, especially as we’d never done anything like this before, with so many people being part of something bigger and celebrating nature together, in particular our local magical hillfort. The whole experience was different, exciting and moving.

The writers are supported in their editing by People First Dorset – a charity led and run by people with learning disabilities with support from staff. This article is also being published as two separate columns in the Dorset Echo newspaper

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