Churches Rally to Save Weymouth Trade Festival
Churches in Weymouth and Portland quickly rallied round as Weymouth’s Bayside Festival for the Olympics went into liquidation last weekend.
Festival organisers closed their gates on Friday, citing poor attendance. Church volunteers stepped in to support angry exhibitors and traders with a listening ear and free drinks. The Festival had been due to run throughout the Olympics.
The Diocesan Olympic Co-ordinator, the Revd Anni Douglas said, “Many of these traders, exhibitors and security staff face losing a lot of money as they’ve paid for pitches and lost potential takings, so we sent our volunteers round the site to see how people were feeling, listening to them and providing refreshments. They really appreciated it and we had a good response.”
Refresh2012, set up by local churches to provide activities, youth events and exhibitions during the Olympic sailing events, was also affected by the closure. They had provided Bedouin tents on the festival site, with a quiet zone for visitors to relax and have hand or foot massages.
Mrs Douglas said, “We’ve now had to hire a replacement tent which we’re hoping to put up in the town centre. It’s going to cost us an extra £500 and we have no idea at the moment where we’re going to get the money. But we’re going ahead in faith.”
The Festival had attracted 17,000 fewer visitors in the first three days than forecast. Festival organisers Mainsail Ltd had reduced the admission price and numbers had begun to increase. Refresh2012 contacted Mainsail Ltd and the borough council on Friday, offering a team of 300 local church volunteers to run the site and keep it going, but the decision was taken to close the Festival.
The Bishop of Sherborne, Dr Graham Kings, said, “This impressive response is a classic example of the way churches can offer practical help. Congratulations to all the denominations who pulled together at this difficult time to make a real difference to Weymouth and Portland.”
County Ecumenical Officer Val Potter said, “Such an offer of help simply would not have been possible for one church to make. Churches Together in Dorset exists to enable this kind of teamwork and this is exactly the kind of response we had in mind.”
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01722 438651, 07500 836989, email@example.com