More volunteers sought to help run town’s festival

Organisers of the Downham Market Festival are appealing for more people to get involved with running the event to ensure it continues to be a huge success.

Festival committee chairman Paula Kellingray said increased red tape was putting more pressure on a group of volunteers which has reduced in numbers dramatically over the years.

But Miss Kellingray was eager to point out that there was no risk of the festival grinding to a halt and she was delighted with how well it had been received this year.

She said: 'The Downham Market Festival will keep going for as long as there are enough people around to keep running it.

'I thought the festival went very well this year. The carnival parade in particular was excellent. It was one of the biggest and best parades we've had for many years and lots of people stayed on for the events at the Howdale, despite the rain and cold weather.'

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Miss Kellingray said there were more than 30 people on the festival committee 15 years ago but now there are only about 12 and, due to members' ages, only half are able to get involved in the physical work required.

Miss Kellingray said: 'We have an ageing committee and unfortunately some members have died or moved on and have not been replaced.

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'It was once the case that most organisations in Downham Market had a representative on the festival committee but that is not the case any more. 'But fortunately we have four new people who helped out this year and have expressed an interest in joining the committee and the more people that we can get on board, then the better the festival will become.

'The whole ethos behind the festival is that it is an event run by the people of Downham Market for the people of Downham Market.'

She added: 'It takes a lot of work to put it together and we are already thinking about next year.

'We will have our AGM in September when we start to make plans.

'I expect that the celebrations of the Queen's diamond jubilee will be a big part of next year's festival.'

This year's festival was the 37th and was held over eight days from May 29.

The popular carnival was given a wild west theme, and former mayor and organiser of the first festival Tinker Taylor was the special guest.

The festival also featured a children's and baby show, rounders tournament, summer ball, and lots of evening entertainment including live music and a quiz.

Downham Market mayor Val Starling and her husband Ray have recently stood down from the festival committee due to other commitments.

Mr Starling said: 'I'm sure that Downham Market isn't the only town that is struggling to deal with all of the increased health and safety regulations that are now required to put a festival on.

'The committee actually had to pay a professional this year to deal with it all. To put on festivals like the ones of 20 years ago is a very difficult job.

'Unfortunately my wife and I have had to stand down from the committee this year.

'We have just had a new grandchild and I have a lot of commitments with the Rotary Club and my wife is very busy in her role as mayor.

'But we will always be there on the sidelines and willing to help out where we can.

'I just hope that there are some more people out there that are willing to come in and help out.'

Anyone wishing to join the Downham Market Carnival Committee can contact Miss Kellingray on 01366 500256 or committee secretary Carole Williams on 01366 388709.

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