PLANS are in motion to look at ways of continuing a community festival in Fordingbridge.

The Rotary Club of Fordingbridge has run the Summer Festival for nine years, raising about £100,000 to support local causes, but says it can no longer continue with the event. In a statement the club said: “Sadly and reluctantly, we cannot continue. We started the festival to draw the community together and to raise funds for local good causes. It was very successful, not least because of solid support from sponsors, suppliers and partners including the mayor and town council.

“Many local causes including old peoples’ lunch clubs, stroke club, youth groups, schools and Christmas lights have been supported from around £100,000 we raised over these nine years.

“We were privileged to help local groups to advertise, recruit and raise funds. We estimate that local groups have raised at least half as much again for their own funds.”

Fordingbridge mayor, Cllr Malcolm Connolly, told the Journal he hopes to look at ways of continuing the festival or setting up a similar event in the future. He says a community-led group, Our Town, has been set up in the town and has many volunteers. He said: “We are hugely disappointed as a council and as a town but would like to thank the Rotary for the many years they have organised it.

“It is my intention to speak to the Rotary to see, with their expertise and our available volunteers, whether we can sit down and talk about longer term prospects for the Summer Festival. If that does not reach fruition we may well look at other expertise and other things like that. It is important for the town to have a festival of some type or description, or summer fete.

“Hopefully, if it does close we have got something to continue running in that window of time.”

The Rotary Club says the decision to withdraw from the festival was due to a number of reasons including fewer local groups wanting to join in the event and less members being “physically capable of the demanding work needed for the festival”.The club also said: “We can no longer rely on enough local volunteers.

“Resources could be bought but at prohibitive cost. Sponsorship is declining. Unavoidably increased prices would reduce value for money.”

“Key organisers working all year round found that illness, family commitments and, frankly, exhaustion mean that they cannot continue.

The club says it is “committed to continue working to benefit our community”, adding: “We thank everyone for their support over the last nine years.”