Chart topper to join conservationists at new Norfolk festival

David Gray

David Gray will be on the line-up for Gathering, a new conservation festival at Wild Ken Hill in Norfolk - Credit: David Gray

Chart-topping musician David Gray will be striking a chord with conservationists at a new festival to celebrate the natural world and the battle to preserve it.

Wild Ken Hill, a 4,000-acre Norfolk farm playing a leading role on the campaign to re-wild our countryside and the star of the BBC's Springwatch and Autumnwatch, will host Gathering on Saturday, September 17.

Mr Gray will be speaking alongside author Mary Colwell to highlight work under way to conserve the threatened curlew.

 a curlew flying over titchwell marsh

The curlew's call has become a less common sound as the species has declined - Credit:

Mr Gray, whose 1998 release White Ladder was one of the top selling albums of the 20th Century, is a keen conservationist and a lover of the north Norfolk coast.

Before recording a song for an album to raise funds for curlew conservation, he posted on his Facebook page: "The curlew is a magical and iconic bird that is fast disappearing from our countryside. Its haunting and unforgettable song is such an essential part of our wild places, that to lose it is simply unthinkable."

Two male beavers have been released into the territories of two female beavers at Wild Ken Hill in S

An aerial view of Wild Ken Hill, a patchwork of habitats between the main A149 coast road an the shores of the Wash - Credit: Wild Ken Hill

Wild Ken Hill at Snettisham is playing a leading role alongside the Queen's Sandringham estate and Pensthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk to rear and release curlews.

curlew release

Dominic Buscall (far right) and his father Harry (second right) watch as some of the first curlews are released at Wild Ken HIll, near Snettisham - Credit: AWPR

Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, will join Benedict Macdonald, author of Rebirding, to discuss nature recovery.

Gathering will also highlight food production, wellbeing and creativity. There will also be guided tours and expert workshops, with participants including writer Amy-Jane Beer, Soil Association chair Helen Browning, food entrepreneur William Kendall and authors Lee Schofield, Nick Acheson, Rebecca Schiller and Jake Fiennes.

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There will also be food and drink vendors, while children will be catered for with their own activities and sessions at Little Wildlings Forest School.

Gathering festival Norfolk 2022

Dominic Buscall, project manager at Wild Ken Hill, with Gathering director Ruth Dillon - Credit: Chris Bishop

Wild Ken HIll has developed a new approach to conservation involving re-wildling and regenerative farming. It includes reintroducing beavers and letting grazing animals roam free.

Dominic Buscall, project manager at the estate, said “We hope Gathering will give our visitors unforgettable experiences in nature which have a lasting impact and foster greater connection with the natural world."

Wild Ken Hill

One of the free-ranging Exmoor ponies at Wild Ken Hill - Credit: Chris Bishop

Ruth Dillon, director of Gathering, said, “I am so excited to be directing Gathering at Wild Ken Hill. The day is going to be hugely inspiring, with an incredible programme of leading authors, practitioners, and creatives."

Tickets are priced at £55 for Adults, £30 for Young Adults, and are free for children (11 years old and under) and are on sale via