The Story Behind Spectrum
The founder of Spectrum, David Hall, has two young sons, William and Edward, both of whom have been diagnosed with Autism. By setting up ‘Spectrum’ he wanted to achieve two things, to build something fun and successful that he could pass onto his family and to use it as a springboard to spread the word about Autism and its many wonderful traits.
He couldn’t have done this without the support of his business partner, Chris Wright, who was paramount in turning the festival from an ambitious idea into a reality. David and Chris were in the process of setting up peaksGO, their now successful outdoors activity company, when they decided to attempt the additional challenge of trying to create the UK’s first, Autism focused festival. By teaming up with Jack Knight from Autism East Midlands and Vicky Green from Lea Green, and with less than no experience of running a festival the challenge commenced.
David's hope was that this festival would allow people with Autism, and other disabilities, to have fun in an environment where they can truly be themselves, whilst providing parents and carers a space to relax, without fear of judgement. It would also be a place to get the much-needed support for those that need it most.
To say the first festival was a success would be an understatement. In its first outing, it won the award for ‘Most Accessible Event’ in 2018. Not a single complaint was received, or refund requested. People seemed genuinely happy with their time at Spectrum. Achieved through a combination of incredible facilities and staff of Lea Green, support, guidance from Autism East Midlands and appropriate activities, stalls and entertainment.
In 2020, the Festival officially became a CIC (Community Interest Company) which allows for the team to reach out to sponsors and apply for funding to support the not-for-profit festival. Although David and Chris will still have a hand in the festival, moving forward, the general running has now been handed over to David's wife, Gemma Ryan, who has an obvious passion for the festival and its future. Peter Benyon was also added to the team as a Director. Peter works at Derby College and has extensive knowledge when it comes to Autism. He has also run activities at previous Spectrum festivals with his daughter Phoebe.
A special mention must go out to our family and friends who were incredibly supportive throughout this process and to the various acts and stall holders, without them, we couldn’t continue to bring smiles to these wonderful people’s faces.