Volunteer enthusiasm is way forward in new ‘big society’

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EDITOR – As I read, with great interest, the exchanges in the Market Rasen Mail concerning the ‘Gardeners Fair’ and the proposed ‘Country Fair’.

I must say that I am overwhelmed with amazement when I see the amounts that have been paid to organise such events.

Your article of the February 2 quotes: “The first year consultants were brought in to run it, with £24,000 to kick-start the event which had to become sustainable. Much was learnt from this”.

We asked if the consultants were interested in running it for a second year, but they declined as funding, then £12,000, was insufficient to run an event of that size.

Market Rasen, as is the case with many of our small communities, has a strong tradition of local involvement to achieve that which is deemed important to the members of the said community.

We do not have to go too far back to remember the trade fairs with the competitions, shows and events that I remember, with affection, as exciting during my own youth.

Although I am not sure how Messrs Rhoades, Rhodes, Langford and Peatfield, to name but a few, would have responded to working with expensive consultants.

These people worked from within the community, for the community and yes, as an onlooker, business people giving back to that community in which their livings were made. Yet big things happened regularly and there just didn’t seem to be such a fuss.

For my part, I was involved with the Steam Threshing Weekend. Together with a small group of committed people, we ran, successfully, a show that became a two-day event based on land opposite the racecourse to include ploughing competitions, a variety of demonstrations with stalls, vintage cars, steam engines etc, etc.

During the last six years of running we gave to the charities we were involved in nearly £20,000, and in addition to this many groups within the town had an opportunity to introduce themselves to the community and to raise funds directly.

Yes, it was hard work and yes, you were always short of worker bees and no you didn’t have a pot of money, so there was a risk of failure, but with commitment, proper planning, effective administration and finally, financial control, a successful event was organised year after year.

The Steam Threshing Weekend was a prime of example of people working from within the community for the benefit of the community with time and talents freely given to earn money for those organisations supported by the organisers and by the community.

The only reason that it was put on hold was that those involved redirected their fund-raising efforts within other areas.

We should do well to remember there are many organisations within this town that must raise many thousands of pounds per year to maintain their mission, whatever that may be, St Thomas’s Church is but one.

This fundraising is carried out with enthusiasm, commitment and passion with the knowledge that without those efforts the funds are not available to execute that work needed to be done.

The result of this fundraising is that the members of our community benefit from the activity organised and in so doing are happy to part with money as a trade off, the event being organised, in general terms, is a means to an end.

The gardeners fair was, and with the newly-announced town council intervention, will hopefully remain, a popular event that added to the life of the town, increasing trade for participating traders and helping the fundraising efforts of the community at large through the increased footfall this type of event naturally generates.

We need more of these activities organised by the members of our community. Yes, they are hard work, but to quote J.M. Barrie: “Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else”.

Andrew R Morrison

Caistor Road, Market Rasen