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Meet the talented teams chosen for Red Funnel’s ‘Proud to Support’ initiative

Tue, Mar 14 2023

Meet the talented teams chosen for Red Funnel’s ‘Proud to Support’ initiative Red Funnel has announced the teams it will be supporting as part of its new ‘Proud to Support’ travel sponsorship programme, - which includes sports, dance, and theatre clubs.

Through the initiative, Red Funnel will celebrate excellence within the Isle of Wight community, aiding teams as they transition from local to national competition. 12 Red Funnel Supported Teams have been selected for travel sponsorship in 2023 aiding training, competition, performance, and attendance to off-Island events.

The list of teams are: 

1.Deadman Theatre Group 
2.East Cowes Victoria Athletic FC 
3.The Isle of Wight Panther Kickboxing Club 
4. The Isle of Wight Underwater Hockey Club 
5. The Lynnette Bailey Academy of Irish Dancing 
6. NAUT Cycling Club and Race Team 
7. Solent Netball Team 
8. The Starlight Academy 
9.  Vectis Academy 
10. Ventnor Cricket Club 
11. Ventnor Rugby Club 
12. Wight Harmony 

Today’s announcement follows the ferry operator’s recent announcement of its Island Ambassadors programme, which also falls under Red Funnel’s ‘Proud to Support’ initiative. The group includes 14 individuals representing a wide range of talents from gymnasts to indie rockers. 

James Morton, Club Secretary at Ventnor Rugby Club, said: “Red Funnel’s support is vital for the club. Providing us with travel for our mainland away fixtures allow us to use our funds to introduce new players to the sport who otherwise could not take part. We are immensely grateful to Red Funnel and are proud to be ambassadors for the company and the Island within our sport.” 

Mary Bowdery, Studio Owner at The Starlight Academy, said: “Red Funnel’s support makes attending regional and national competitions accessible to all our students. We want to see our young athletes competing at the highest level, progressing from regional, to national to international competition, where they are scouted by industry professionals and for top scholarship programmes, giving them the best start to their career whatever their background.” 

Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel, said: “We’re proud of the enormous talent within the Isle of Wight community and we are both honoured and excited to support so many incredible teams and individuals.  All our ambassadors and teams are important to us, and we’re pleased to be able to provide the opportunity to help them to reach their ambitions at a national level.” 

To find out more about the Proud to Support initiative, please visit 


For further information, please contact [email protected] / 02380 382 970 

Notes to editors 

About Red Funnel 

Red Funnel is the original Isle of Wight ferry company with roots tracing back to 1820. Based in the UK port of Southampton, Red Funnel carries 2.3m passengers and over 800,000 vehicles on its ferry route between the UK port of Southampton and East Cowes and 1.1m passengers between Southampton and West Cowes on its Red Jet Hi-Speed service.   

In addition to ferry travel, Red Funnel is the only cross-Solent operator to offer ferry inclusive bonded holiday accommodation, attraction tickets, festival and event tickets and activity packages. Sub-brands include ‘Red Jet’ (the Hi-Speed passenger only ferry service serving West Cowes) and its on board café, ‘ReFuel’. 

The Company is a founder member of Visit Isle of Wight Ltd, the Island’s not for profit destination management organisation and Red Funnel sponsors or supports most of the Island’s premier events including the IW Festival, Cowes Week, Wight Proms, and Walk the Wight as well as a range of community and niche interest events. Red Funnel’s Charity of the Year, 2023 is Aspire. 

For more information, visit 

Red Funnel’s Supported Teams 2023 

Deadman Theatre Group 
Deadman is an award-winning working/precious class-led theatre and film company, presenting work on stages across the south coast and at International Film Festivals. The company are dedicated to staging contemporary and captivating local narratives from and for Britain’s coastal towns – currently touring with “The Freshwater Five”. 

East Cowes Victoria Athletic FC 
Established in 1885 the local club takes its name from Queen Victoria, their “Beatrice Avenue” home ground once belonging to the Osborne estate. A longstanding Island club boasting a long list of accolades, East Cowes Vics have been through several changes in recent years. With a new Chairman, Commercial Manager and Team Manager, the club are ready for the 2023 football season with Red Funnel support. 

Isle of Wight Panther Kickboxing 
The Wight Panthers are an amateur Kickboxing Team with a 35-year history, set up by former British Champion Steve Marsh, now coached by Island Ambassador Dominic Marsh who sits 5th in the world ranking for the sport. The Panthers boast three British Champions on the squad, dedicated to training members a high standard and taking them up through the regional and national ranks, aiming for Team GB selection. A real community hub, the Wight Panthers welcome members of all ages and backgrounds, priding themselves on teaching self-discipline, respect and a sporting skill, offering a supportive environment for everyone. 

The Isle of Wight Underwater Hockey Club 
The Island’s only team and one of the largest in the UK, the Isle of Wight Underwater Hockey Club is rapidly growing. Underwater hockey is a diverse sport open to all ages. The IOW team currently has a mixed adult team and a full lady’s team, with a large junior squad coming up through the ranks. Training on the Isle of Wight, all competitions are on the mainland or in Europe as part of the British Octopush Association. The club recently finished 1st in their division at a National Tournament and Ladies Team qualified for the Plate play-off in their first ever Women’s National Championship Tournament. They also have a club member going to France next year, representing Great Britain. 

The Lynnette Bailey Academy of Irish Dancing 
Lynnette Bailey and Caitlyn Hoolan have been teaching Irish Dancing for 27 years, coaching budding performers from beginners through the grades to achieve major national titles. Every year, the academy takes its most accomplished dancers to high level competitions off Island in England and Ireland. This year three students from the academy have been selected to compete at the Irish Dancing World Championships. 

NAUT Cycling Club and Race Team 
A large Island cycling club, the NAUT Cycling Team is now in it’s third year. Training here on the Island, the team have competed and achieved multiple podiums in various age groups and categories across road cycling, time trials, cyclo-cross and mountain biking. NAUT is open to riders of all ages and abilities, bringing likeminded people together to enjoy cycling. The club makes the most of the excellent roads and trails here on the Island, proud of where they live and more than happy to show new cyclists and visitors around. 

Solent Netball Team 
The highest performing netball team on the Island, Solent are current division 1 champs and have held this title since 2019. The team play every weekend between September and April, as part of both the Island League and Southampton Premier League, with Solent player Chloe Duggan awarded the Premier Player trophy two years in a row. For 2023, Solent aim to protect their Island top spot, while climbing the ranks in the mainland league. Solent also currently hold the defence and attack awards for the lowest number of goals scored against and total goals scored in the Island league. 

The Starlight Academy 
Specialising in dance, gymnastics and acrobatics, the Starlight Academy offers Isle of Wight children and adults the opportunity to learn and compete in these disciplines. As well as holding shows here on the Island, the Academy also takes its students to the mainland for regional and national competitions and championships to compete. Starlight students regularly bring home silverware for the club, as well as earning scholarships for off-Island training programmes and schools, helping them on their performance career path. 

Vectis Endurance Academy 
Vectis Academy sees members train and compete in various endurance sports, including triathlon, cycling, swimming and running. A mixed gender team, Academy athletes compete to a high level in their respective fields, this year aiming for national, European and World age group championships across all disciplines. For 2023 the club has its sights on five major endurance events, including the Island Games and the IRONMAN Barcelona. 

Ventnor Cricket Club 
This historic club dates back to 1847, then known as Undercliffe Cricket Club. Now Ventnor Cricket Club, the team entered the Hampshire league in 1992 and continue to challenge mainland teams at home and away to this day. The leading Isle of Wight cricket club, Ventnor has seen a raft of talented players go on to play at county and national level, providing a great springboard into professional cricket. Red Funnel are proud to have supported this established team for over 10 years. 

Ventnor Rugby Club 
One of the Island’s largest and most successful rugby clubs, Ventnor RFC was reformed in 1974 and has taken to the field ever since as it builds towards its fiftieth birthday next year. Red Funnel are proud to support the club playing in the Hampshire League, hosting rival mainland teams here at their home ground ‘Watcombe Bottom’ and crossing the water to play. Ventnor are great advocates for Isle of Wight rugby, working to introduce new players to the sport locally through their coaching programme, while also encouraging mainland clubs and competitions to the Island. 

Wight Harmony 
A barbershop style acapella group, Wight Harmony is a large singing group entertaining the Island, and competing off Island. Regular winners of Island accolades at the IOW Music Festival and various chorus and quartet competitions, the group also take part in an annual acapella convention for the British Association of Barbershop Singers. Wight Harmony look forward to competing in this national competition in May.