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(Not written by me) Woofstock UK: The Devon Dog Festival With A Heart There’s no denying that the award-winning Woofstock UK is one of the most dog and family friendly festivals around. Voted ‘Best Day Out’ two years running by Dog Friendly Awards, it’s clear to see the passion and energy founder organisers and dynamic duo Heather and Carol Nesbitt-Bayley put into creating a fun-filled time for all. But what was the driving force behind this barking-mad couple creating the first Woofstock UK five years ago? What craziness made them wake one day and just say, “I know, let’s do a festival for dogs”? It all started with one life changing day back in 2012 when Heather suddenly fell seriously ill. She said: “I dragged myself out of bed one morning, feeling heavy and lethargic. Harry and Maggie, two of our dogs, didn’t bounce in for their usual morning greeting, instead they both stood stock-still and stared at me. My face and neck were covered in unexplained dark purple bruises, and although I tried to take the dogs for a walk, they wouldn’t allow me to leave the house and kept blocking me at every turn. “I was rushed to A&E where a doctor took blood tests, a brain scan and chest X-ray. The diagnosis was my immune system was killing itself and it was seeing my blood and platelets as foreign – basically I was dying. “It was a close-call as to whether I was going to make it through the night. “During my long stay at the hospital, the ‘Pets as Therapy dog’ came to visit which really lifted my spirits. When I was finally released from hospital I thought how amazing dogs actually are, and how our two dogs were fantastic by working out there was something seriously wrong! I spoke to Carol and said I’ve got a crazy idea – I want us to celebrate dogs and all animals, and to leave some kind of legacy – and the rest is history. “I’m still unwell and under the hospital’s neurology care. Carol and I want to carry on raising awareness and much needed money for both local and international animal charities for as long as we are able. That is how Woofstock UK was started as an annual one-day event in the middle of a field for horses which has grown year on year. We are so excited and delighted that we are celebrating our fifth anniversary with a crazy weekend festival in August!” The multi award-winning festival attracts thousands of visitors worldwide and this year is relocating to a 13-acre site based near Dartmouth with headline sponsor Bella and Duke. Held from Friday 16th – Sunday 18th August, it promises to be bigger and better than ever before and pawsome fun for happy hounds, dog-lovers and all the family. Traditionally a one-day event, it has proved so popular that it’s celebrating its fifth year with a weekend extravaganza, including camping, glamping and live entertainment. The only one of its kind in the UK, Woofstock prides itself on being ‘a festival by dogs for dogs’, attracting visitors year on year with its unique dog-orientated aspects. On arrival at the gate canny canines will collect bespoke 100% natural dog biscuit tickets specially made in the Netherlands by independent Ammy’s Delights. The Dutch company has been a great supporter, providing tickets and dog-show award hampers since Woofstock UK first began. Visitors will also be given a list of rules addressed to their furry friends, ‘pawed’ by Woofstock’s mascot, Spaniel Harry, to ensure everyone can relax and enjoy the event and all that it has to offer. Day-time activities include police dog displays, fun dog-shows and for a small fee ‘hot-dogs’ can cool off and have a splashing time in the special pooch pool supplied by the Soggy Dog Company who will be travelling down from Bedfordshire. With lots of things to see and do, including a diverse mix of trade stands; a shopping village and plethora of local artisan gastro delights and drink suppliers; it promises to be a fun time for all the family, with plenty of entertainment, including live music on the main stage and food and fayre for dogs, kids and grown-ups too! Heather concludes: “It’s a chance for like-minded people to come and have a really good time and it is all so chilled like puppy love. You don’t have to have a dog to come to Woofstock, just rock up and have a really good time. I promise you won’t get to the end of the weekend without having made new friends, whether that’s of the furry four-legged kind or of the human kind.” For more information and to book your Woofstock UK tickets, click here. Source: Grow Exeter