Town's annual gala saved

By Danielle NuttallA POPULAR town festival facing the axe was saved at the 11th hour last night after a public meeting attracted scores of new volunteers.

By Danielle Nuttall

A POPULAR town festival facing the axe was saved at the 11th hour last night after a public meeting attracted scores of new volunteers.

This year's Leiston Gala was almost certain to face the chop with committee numbers continuing to dwindle over the past 12 months.

A crunch meeting was set up last night to decide whether to cancel this year's festival, but scores of new volunteers turned up to offer their help, allowing the gala to go ahead.

Amy Barrett, gala press secretary, said: “All the committee came here with the opinion we were not going to go ahead - we were going to fold up.

“We were ecstatic and overwhelmed by the amount of people that turned up to help. The ages range from 20 to old age pensioners.

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“We have doubled our committee now. We've had people who have just moved into the area who want to help out. The gala is going to go ahead this year.”

The event, which is now in its seventh year, reached crisis point last year after committee numbers plummeted, but the town rallied round and the gala went ahead, attracting 3,000 people.

But it faced a repeat of last year's problems with the loss of some of its committee members due to other commitments, but new help has now arrived.

The gala was revived in the late 1990s and attracts thousands of visitors every year. The event, which features a procession of colourful carnival floats, typically hosts a funfair with displays from talented entertainers.

Thousands of pounds has been raised over the years through the gala with Leiston Children's Centre, Leiston Football Club and Friends of Leiston Airfield among groups to benefit.

This year's festival will take place on August 28 and will feature a gala granny rather than the traditional, younger festival queen.

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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