As reported by the East Kilbride News – A kind-hearted local business has stepped in to save Strathaven Balloon Festival from the axe. We told you last month how organisers had faced a massive budget cut as they searched for £2500 to keep the 2019 event alive.
Thousands of balloonists and visitors were expected to flock to the extravaganza in the John Hastie Park on August 23 and 24, marking the event’s 20th anniversary. The annual balloon festival looked set to pop under the pressure of mounting costs and difficulties caused by a new park and ride option.
But, after refurbishment works company Pro-cast spotted the story in the East Kilbride News, they decided to hand over a cheque for the full £2500, saving the birthday bonanza.
The owner of the Green Street business, Derek Innes, said: “We got the paper in the morning and saw the story.” “One thing we like to do is help the community we work in and everything in the article drove us to go and help the Strathaven community.” “So, we contacted the News and it took off from there.”
Pro-cast bought and transformed the disused police station, converting it with the help of Strathaven in Bloom.
The company have spent a vast amount of money in town and say they “want to bring jobs” and “promote Strathaven” across the central belt.
Derek added: “The big thing for us is to give back to kids and give back to the communities we are in.”
Headline balloon, The Piper, is set to tower over the crowd at 50 metres high with more surprises on the cards for revellers.
Festival chairman Matthew Smith admits it all hung in the balance, with the threat of major cutbacks had they not secured the sponsorship. He thanked the East Kilbride News for its part in helping to save the festival, adding: “This money means we can go ahead with the full schedule of entertainment for the weekend.”
“It’s a massive help. The festival was designed to bring business into the town. We generally have about 20,000 visitors over the weekend and it means it can continue.” “I don’t think a lot of people realise it costs us up to £25,000 to put the festival on every year and there are only 12 on the committee with help from volunteers.”
“It’s the anniversary so it’s cost us a wee bit more, and we work at this all year round. Without our sponsors there is no festival.” “Now it’s been saved – we’re alright for this year.”
Procast Managing Director, Carol Cameron, said she hoped this would be the first of many Avondale projects the firm could back. She added: “We want to keep growing in Strathaven and helping the community.” “We want to generate opportunities for people in the town and South Lanarkshire.”