Call for more funding to make Leys Festival free

7:00pm Tuesday 15th April 2014

By Alex Wynick

LEYS Festival organisers have called on support from businesses and residents to help the day run smoothly.

They have raised about £5,000 of a hoped for £12,000 to make the September 6 Blackbird Leys Park event free and packed with activities.

Co-organiser Jane Gallagher said: “We have been fundraising, and we’ve got quite a lot already, but it’s not enough to run the day we want to.

“We want it to be free entry, and for as many of the activities as possible to be free, or extremely low cost, so that as many people as possible can participate.”

Ms Gallagher, of Oxfordshire Play Association, added: “We’ve already applied for lots of different funding opportunities, and are waiting to hear from Oxford City Council and Blackbird Leys Parish Council.

“We would also like sponsorship from local businesses to help us.”

She added: “The money will be spent on activities such as giant inflatables and bringing activities and crafts to the day.

“Some of it will go on essential stuff that the day can’t do without, like toilet hire and first aiders.”

Formerly the Leys Fair, the annual event was cancelled in 2011 because of a lack of organisers but came back last year with 3,000 visitors.

Funding has come from organisations including housing provider GreenSquare, Catalyst Housing and Leys Community Partnership.

Oxford City Council estate councillors Steve Curran and Scott Seamons and Oxfordshire County Council’s Val Smith and Rae Humberstone are also lending their support.

Garsington Road Unipart is to sponsor the event and volunteers are also being sought for the day Ms Gallagher said: “We would like to get lots of young people involved with the stage area, and get local performers of all ages to come and play on the day.

“We need as many people to come along and help either beforehand or on the day.

“They can come and promote their own organisation with a stall or activity. Things are going really rather well. We want it to be bigger and better than last year.

“We want to build on last year’s success, everybody has been very positive about it.

“It should be for everybody – young, old and those in the middle.”

Blackbird Leys Parish Council chairman Gordon Roper said: “We will do our best to give the Leys Festival what they need.

“It’s something that’s good for the estate, it’s always well-attended and residents really look forward to it.”

The festival steering group will next meet on Wednesday, April 30, at 1pm at the Farmhouse, Nightingale Avenue, Greater Leys, and is open to the public.

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