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Long Melford: No cash for charities as ‘Big Night Out’ takings plummet

09:00 17 March 2014

Part of the fireworks display at last year

Part of the fireworks display at last year's Big Night Out

Archant

For the first time in its 32 year history the group behind one of Suffolk’s most high profile fireworks displays will not be able to donate to local charities from the proceeds this year.

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The Big Night Out, set in the grounds of historic Long Melford Hall, is usually watched by around 10,000 people and raises up to £20,000 annually for charity.

But according to Project Seven – which formed in 1982 as a fundraising body to run the event – last November’s Big Night Out attracted just 5,000 people and only managed to break even.

Andrew Hagger, president of the event’s organising committee blamed a number of factors for the “dramatic drop” in takings, including bad weather, expensive music licences and a reduced offering of fairground rides.

He is appealing for sponsors to back the event and is urging local people to get behind the fireworks spectacular or lose it for good.

He said: “The takings for last November were down dramatically and costs spiralled out of control.

“I think a multitude of things contributed including competition from Kentwell Hall with its Halloween event, plus the weather on the night was atrocious.

“The performing rights fees and licence for the music are expensive and we had to provide our own security due to police cutbacks.

“In the good old days, we made £20,000 and in more recent times we’ve always managed to raise at least £10,000 and the profits were split between local good causes.

“We’re very sad because it’s the first time in the event’s history that we haven’t been able to give any money away.”

Due to safety concerns following an accident on a previous occasion, a decision was taken to only have small fairground rides last year, and this lost around £1,000 in takings, Mr Hagger said.

Despite everything, the group is committed to putting on a show this year but the committee believes changes will have to be made if the event is to survive long term.

Mr Hagger added: “We are looking at various areas where we can cut back.

“We will be keeping the ticket price the same but we are intending to do some of the refreshments ourselves in order to generate some money.

“We are also looking for sponsors, including one for the sound system, and we will get the big fair rides back this year.

“We also hope that people will pay the entry fee and come and watch the show from the grounds rather than parking up and watching from surrounding vantage points.”

Anyone who can sponsors the Big Night Out in any way can call Mr Hagger on 07980 526067.

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