By MARK BOGGIS
Friday, August 10, 2012
HOPES were growing this week that the Lowestoft airshow could take place next year after all.
Two weeks ago, organisers announced that the two-day spectacular would not be going ahead next summer as a mixture of bad weather and a lack of donations left them unable to fund the event.
But this week, as show supporters continued to back an appeal to save it, organisers revealed that they could press ahead – if they can secure enough guarantees from people willing to underwrite the costs.
Organisers stopped short of confirming that a 2013 airshow will take place.
However, a spokesman for Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival told The Journal: “Organisers were humbled last week by surprise offers to start an underwriting fund that could – if successful – potentially save the airshow.”
This underwriting offer has already led to more than £5,000 being pledged over the past week as efforts to save the airshow gather pace.
Meanwhile, a Lowestoft businessman has already received more than £1,300 in donations over the past five days after launching an appeal to save the town’s airshow.
Steve Saunders, manager of Elephant Interiors in London Road North, set up the Save Lowestoft Airshow 2013 last week in an effort to raise some of the £60,000 needed to top up the event’s wet weather contingency reserve.
So far he has collected £1,350, with £1,000 of it coming from one generous donor.
Mr Saunders, who is in the process of setting up an appeal bank account, said yesterday: “It has been a great start to the appeal. One person gave me £20 and he was on the dole, but he was determined to help the airshow.”
Last week, a presentation evening was held in Lowestoft to reward the charities and voluntary organisations which helped out at this year’s airshow. During the event at the Hotel Victoria, two separate offers were made to underwrite part of the £60,000 required to build up the event’s wet weather contingency fund.
One came from a community group and the other from a businessman – with their offers totalling about £5,500.
Paul Bayfield, managing director of Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival, said: “This was a spontaneous and generous offer and it was typical of the support that we have from this wonderful group of people. If we could have at least another 11 similar offers, then there was a very strong possibility that the airshow could be saved.”
He added: “Underwriting may be a more attractive option to businesses or supporters who want to save the airshow as their funds would only be needed if the income from a future show failed to reach the break-even point.” This year’s airshow was the first to be held over a weekend and, despite attracting an estimated 300,000 people over the two days, only £85,000 was collected in programme fees and donations.
Since making the announcement that an airshow in 2013 was unlikely, Mr Bayfield has received many letters and messages of support. He said: “I am very heartened by all the letters that I have received but we need the financial backing before we can consider rescinding our cancellation decision.
“It would be really wonderful if 11 people or more came forward offering to underwrite us by at least £5,000 each! Time is tight and we would need to hear from prospective underwriters by September 21.”
Also this week, the Soundraisers store in Regent Road, Lowestoft, pledged its support to the airshow by agreeing to set up a collection bucket. It is also organising a music festival to raise more funds.
● Offers to underwrite the airshow can be made to Mr Bayfield via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by letter to Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival Ltd, 41, Tennyson Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32 1PS.
● Donations for the Save Lowestoft Airshow 2013 appeal can be left at The Journal’s offices at 147, London Road North. All money donated will be collected daily by Steve Saunders, who is setting up a bank account for the appeal. If the money is not needed by the airshow it will go to the Help an East Coast Child charity.