Fatherhood Interview: Rob Da Bank – Banking on Success
Camp Festival founder and dad of four boys Rob Da Bank talks to ParentFolk about festivals, family and fatherhood.
“Our eldest son walked his pygmy goat into the village this morning,” explains dad of four Rob Da Bank. “It’s only when you stop and think you realise how odd life is, and how lucky we are to live the way we do.”
DJ and festival director Rob and his wife Josie moved from London to the Isle of Wight to give their sons a better quality of life. They travel back regularly with their four sons, but family life is firmly based by the sea these days.
“We’re right by the water and I love sailing and paddle boarding on the Solent,” says Rob, 45, whose real name is Robert Gorham.
“Sometimes it feels a bit selfish – there isn’t a huge amount here for teenagers to do. The pace of life is much slower than London, but it also feels very safe and we have the most amazing coast
“When we go to London the 12-year-old asks why don’t we live there anymore. The elder three were born there and there’s obviously lots to see and do in a big city. Our youngest son was born here, and for him as a two-year-old, it’s perfect here.”
Growing up in rural Hampshire, Rob also enjoyed an idyllic childhood. His dad was a GP and his mum a midwife. With his brother and sister he developed a love for the great outdoors and adventure, which he’s now passing on to his four sons.
“We love travelling as a family,” he says. “We spent three months in Bali and even put the kids in school there, we’ve travelled around South India with them and it was amazing.
“Admittedly, whether you’re going on a day trip or going to the moon with kids you do need to do a certain amount of planning. There’s always a bit of extra hassle, and lots of extra baggage, but we were always sure that we didn’t want to stop travelling just because we had the boys.”
Travelling may have to take a break for a while though, as Rob and Josie plough their energies into this year’s Camp Bestival in July.
Last year saw financial challenges after bad weather forced the festival to cancel the final day of its 2018 edition. This year it’s back on track, with the help of live music giants Live Nation Gaiety and SJM.
“Camp Bestival is back in 2019, we have another headliner who we can announce soon and I’m really excited about that,” says Rob.
Starting out on the Isle of Wight, the festival now takes place in the beautiful grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset. Previous headliners have included the likes of Chic, Madness, Calvin Harris and Basement Jaxx.
Every year the festival also has a fancy dress theme, with families encouraged to go all out and get creative, with some seriously impressive outfits on show.
“This year at Camp Bestival we have a heroes versus superheroes theme,” says Rob. “We’ve looked at something similar before but it didn’t quite gel. Now I think the heroes bits with the doctors and nurses, binmen and firefighters, we’ve got it as we want it. The kids really get stuck into the dressing up side of things. I think we’ll have some amazing costumes this year.
“There are things for the parents, including a headliner that ticks a lot of boxes for us. Last year it was great with Rick Astley and Simple Minds but I think this year we’re looking at something slightly younger.”
There’s certainly plenty for families – from the soft play tent, with ball pools, ride-on cars, tunnels, play tents, inflatable balls and bouncy cows, to a science tent, kids’ theatre and even performances from Mr Tumble and Mr Maker.
It’s also a site of some unusual collaborations – including last year’s set from Rick Astley, where the Never Gonna Give You Up singer was joined by guest drummer and former Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry.
“You never quite know what will happen, and that’s why we love it,” laughs Rob.
“Of course, there are things you can plan. We have a new field this year with lots of really amazing natural things.
“There’s very little electricity, if any at all. We’re planning bushcraft and fireside woodwork workshops. There’ll be cooking over the open fire, and of course, there’s the world’s biggest bouncy castle.
“We have two-year-olds and people in their 70s, 80s, maybe older. My parents come with our kids – we get a lot of grandparents. We have areas for the young kids but also for their parents, too, cool people in their 30s and 40s who might need something different.
“It’s a challenge to tick all the boxes but the feedback is always amazing. This is the 12th or 13th Camp Bestival so we built up a lot of experience. We only have a tiny team of six or so and there’s a lot of planning and finding the best people to help us with what we need to do.”
Somehow Rob and Josie manage to fit all that in with raising their sons and other businesses too. How do they make it all work?
“I’m not too sure we do,” he laughs. “I’m not someone who likes to sit down and relax. I can just about get through Christmas Day, but by Boxing Day I’m desperate to get out and be doing something. I’m not very good at sitting on the sofa watching TV. I’d always rather be out doing something.
“I have a music supervision company – we do music for films and TV shows – that’s called Earworm and it’s doing really well. There’s also the Camp Bestival record label and we have some really good new acts signed up including Plastic Mermaids, who are from the Isle of Wight and I’m really excited about.
“Pretty much half my week is spent doing things like that and the other half is spent doing school runs and filling the washing machine. It’s perfect for me because I get the best of both worlds, and Josie is the same.
“There will always be challenges, particularly when you have one still in nappies and you’re trying to help the elder one get ready to start GCSEs, but we both get stuck in and we’ve been together a long time – since we were 18 – so we work pretty well as a team. Josie’s mum and dad came down over Christmas from Southport, so that was great, and the boys love seeing their grandparents.
“Josie is an amazing cook and she’s great at getting the kids ready for life. I’m more practical with school runs and homework, and between the two of us we somehow make it work.
“There are so many things that we like to do in the future. I think we’ll look at doing things that are more organic, a lot more based around nature. It’s brilliant to get kids sleeping out under the stars and making a giant ship out of driftwood. Getting out into nature is one of the things I loved as a child, so being able to offer that to somebody else is really something exciting for me.”
Camp Bestival, is due to take place
at Lulworth Castle, Dorset from Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th
July 2019. For details see www.campbestival.net.