Blue Bell Hill in Maidstone is an unlikely site for a music festival but, every August bank holiday the hills come alive with the sound of music.
The ‘B on the Hill’ music festival, which was set up to raise funds for Diabetes UK, is growing in size and popularity attracting headline acts such as the singer Jordan Gray, a semi-finalist from the TV show ‘The Voice’.
Local brothers Jim and Chris Burgess (middle and right in the photo above) organise the annual event with a friend, Graham Holliman (first left) who studied stem cell research and diabetes for his PHD.
Jim, an audio visual technician said: "I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a teenager. I was always looking for a unique way to raise money for charity and suddenly, we had the crazy idea of doing a small gig in my mum’s garden like a mini-Glasto! Luckily, she said yes, as did some great local bands, and the rest is history. We’ve been doing it for five years now and raised a total of £11,000 for Diabetes UK in that time. We can’t wait to raise even more next year. It’s a special feeling when it all comes together on the day, to see people having fun, enjoying the music and then to know you’ve helped a great cause too. It makes all the hard work worth it.”
Jordan Gray, 2016 semi-finalist on ‘The Voice’, said: “I’ve played B on the Hill for a few years now. Since before I transitioned. I was always made to feel so welcome and appreciated. Great team and an amazing crowd that’s expanding year by year. I will always play B on the Hill if they want me.”
This year’s event attracted over 200 people despite the collapse of the M20 bridge earlier that day.
Jim Burgess continued: “I couldn’t believe it when I got a text message about the bridge but, people still came out to support us which was great. One act got stuck in traffic and couldn’t make it but we managed to plug the gap. Next year we hope to make it even bigger. All we need is a bigger plot of land and a bit more infrastructure to go with it such as toilets and parking facilities. Businesses, like Digico who lent us a mixing console, Sunflower Foods and stage builders WBM scaffolding, have been so helpful in getting us this far – without their brilliant support, we couldn’t hold the festival every year. This is a community inspired event and we want to say a big thank you to everyone that made this possible.”
Lauren Baker, Regional fundraiser for Diabetes UK South East region, said: “To see what Jim, Chris and Graham have built in the space of a few years is truly amazing. It’s grown from a small garden party to the point that they now need a bigger plot of land! They are an inspiration and we at Diabetes UK are so grateful to them for the money they’ve raised which will help fund life-saving research into Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.”
Please contact@bonthehill on Twitter if you wish to get in touch or sponsor the event.