An estimated 10,000 people flocked to Horsham Park for the town’s annual summer extravaganza Sparks in the Park on Sunday.
Organised by Horsham District Council and sponsored by Vines of Gatwick, the event draws together charities, emergency services, and volunteering organisations, giving them an opportunity to showcase their work to residents.
Visitors enjoyed open-air storytelling, a number of live performances, wrestling matches, children’s activities, taster sessions for a range of different sports, and several demonstrations from firefighters.
Jonathan Chowen (Con, Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead), HDC’s cabinet member for arts, heritage, and leisure, said: “It goes to show how strong the volunteering sector is in the Horsham district. It shows you how important sport is in the district along with the volunteering. It shows you how strong the community is.
“I’m very proud of the officers especially at the junior level who quite often do not get recognised.”
Sussex Police, South East Coast Ambulance Service, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSF&RS) and Sussex Safer Roads Partnership were four of the organisations in the ‘Community Zone’ this year.
Firefighters showed the procedure for dealing with a road traffic collision, a chip pan fire, and also had their technical rescue unit demonstrating how they would winch a horse to safety.
Richard Davy, deputy district commander at WSF&RS, said: “This is about showing to the public what we can do. It’s a lot of education for the public and how to remain safe in their homes. We are talking to people about safer driving and raising awareness. It’s a multitude of things.
“It’s important we show that joined up approach with the police and the ambulance service.”
Meanwhile Sussex Police were offering bike and property marking, highlighting the Neighbourhood Watch scheme, educating young people about drugs, recruiting for special constables, and giving out information on its Junior Citizen programme.
Inspector Clare McKnight, of the Horsham Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “It’s an opportunity for people to come and speak with us in an informal setting and get information about crime prevention initiatives and see us as a helpful organisation that is here to help in times of need.
“For me this is an amazing event drawing together all aspects of the community and demonstrating what’s available in the Horsham district and the voluntary organisations as well.”
Held at the same weekend as Benson’s Funfair the park was also host to a range of displays, stalls, and activities for children, including a Kids’ Active Play Zone with inflatable fun, soft play, clowns, and magic.
Charities such as the Dame Vera Lynn Trust for Children with Cerebral Palsy, Action Medical Research, Samaritans Horsham branch, and Age UK Horsham district, were joined by voluntary organisations like the Horsham Twinning Association, The Rotary Club of Horsham, Horsham Blueprint, and Horsham Lions Club.
Tom Osborne, fundraising chairman for Horsham Lions, was one of several volunteers handing out free Message in a Bottle capsules, which stores emergency details such as important medical information in a plastic bottle that is placed in the door of people’s fridges. On average the organisation gives away around 200 to 300 a month to people in the area.
Mr Osborne said: “We’re raising our profile and we’re reaching a different audience. It’s a great community event.”
Oliver Farley, chairman of the Horsham Twinning Association, said: “We want the local community to become more aware of our work promoting Horsham as a beautiful town and encourage international links. We are always looking for new members and groups to enrich our partnerships and further world wide friendships.
“If you or your club are interested in becoming a member, contact membership secretary Jant Saunders at email@example.com”