There is renewed hope for the Horsham Cricket Festival after the local community rallied together to save it from the axe.
The outlook for the historic event had looked bleak, but following an appeal on the back page of last Thursday’s West Sussex County Times, around half of the £15,000 needed to save it has been pledged in just a week.
Both Horsham Cricket Club, where the week is staged, and Sussex County Cricket Club have been contacted by businesses keen to help after the desperate plight of the event was revealed.
While admitting the future of the popular festival was now much brighter, Sussex chief executive Zac Toumazi warned that further support was still needed ahead of next week’s deadline.
“The reaction has been tremendous, we have had interest from people not only in Horsham but from the greater area with offers of assistance,” Mr Toumazi said on Wednesday. “We still have a way to go, we are not out of the woods just yet but we are encouraged.
“We’ve probably had around 50 per cent of what we require and we’re hoping for more over the next 24 hours, but it’s a constantly changing landscape and we still urge businesses and individuals to come forward.
“But the reaction so far has been brilliant and confirms what we all know, that people love the Horsham Festival and want it to continue.”
Horsham CC have also had a huge response. Chris Wassell, chairman of the management committee, told us: “We’ve had a significant response to the story you carried in last week’s paper and it just shows the strength of feeling among the local community to keep the festival at Horsham.
“We’ve had calls from businesses who have sponsored the event in the past as well as cold calls from others who read the article and wanted to help. At the moment we’ve probably had between £4,000 and £5,000 promised and others have said they may be able to do something.”
Arundel CC is the only other ground in the county to host Sussex matches outside of Hove and that festival is not under threat. County cricket used to be held at both Hastings and Eastbourne, and Mr Wassell said he believed if the festival were to vanish it would be unlikely to ever return to Horsham’s Cricketfield Road.
Sussex are due to play a County Championship match against Warwickshire at Horsham, beginning on July 21, and then Nottinghamshire in a one-day game on the Sunday, July 27.
Mr Toumazi said a final decision was likely to be made at the end of next week because of the county club’s commitments to its suppliers.
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