Fears and anger over future of Worstead Festival

Villagers have reacted with anger at a meeting discussing the future of the one of Norfolk's largest village festivals.

Villagers have reacted with anger at a meeting discussing the future of the one of Norfolk's largest village festivals.

The traditional three- day Worstead Festival was cancelled this year after a run of 45 years and instead a smaller music festival, the Worstead Music and Arts Festival, took place in July.

At the time, festival bosses said the event needed a rethink to make it easier to manage and more entertaining to the public.

The trustees, which run the Worstead Village Festival Charity, held a meeting in the village hall on Friday night discussing what was happening with the charitable trust and the festival.

At the meeting the trust explained that it is set to become a company limited by guarantee within the next three months.

The decision to change was first put in process around 18 months ago, to limit the personal liability of committee members and trustees.

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The company will be controlled by members, who elect a board of directors and who cannot benefit from any profits made.

Susan Hawkins, treasurer of the trust, said anyone volunteering to help with the festival shall be eligible to be a member of the new company and membership will be extended to everyone living in the centre of the village.

Membership forms were handed out at the meeting.

She said: 'We are doing our best to keep things afloat, we are trying to get volunteers to come and help us, if we do not have anyone to help, then the organising committee will die a death and if they go, there will be no festival at all.'

But there were heated exchanges about how the festival itself should move forward.

Simon Gray, 51, who lives in Worstead and who is an ex vice-chair of the Worstead Festival, said: 'I think the trustees have done sterling work over the years with the festival, but over the past couple of years they have lost their way, and I think the festival needs a rethink, just to do the same thing we have done over the years again and again, is not the way forward.

'There are a lot of people who want to help and get involved but with something that is a little bit different. There needs to be a new vision and a change in what the festival does.'

Douglas Harding, 82, who lives in the village, said: 'I want the festival to be more centred on the village, and have some of the odd things which we used to have, such as competitions for who grows the best marrows, that sort of thing, and children dancing round the maypole.

'You need to ask two questions, what is the festival and who is it for.'

Gavin Paterson, president of the trust, said: 'We are now looking forward, we want to progress forward and we want people who will come to meetings and talk about it and volunteer, but if all they do is complain, that is not going to happen.'

Another meeting, with the festival's organising committee, looking at a plan for 2011, will be held at Worstead Village Hall on Monday at 7.30pm.