Bid to save popular Valley Gardens event

Hugely popular - Dancing the afternoon away in 40s Day in the heat of the Valley Gardens. (1706182AM10)
Hugely popular - Dancing the afternoon away in 40s Day in the heat of the Valley Gardens. (1706182AM10)

One of Harrogate's most popular events in the Valley Gardens is under threat.

For the last seven years, the award-winning park has seen thousands of people in period costume enjoying a day of wartime nostalgia at 40s Day.
But organisers the Friends of Valley Gardens, a local charity dedicated to improving and protecting the park for the public good, say they have become victims of their own succcess.
Veteran FOVG chair Jane Blayney said: “People always enjoy the event enormously and we love doing it but there’s only a team of five and we are volunteers, not professionals.
“We’ve enjoyed doing it and would like it to continue but there’s a huge amount of work involved and we’re not getting any younger.”
An earlier appeal for extra help from fellow members of FOVG produced a low key response.
The 40s Day is an important event not only for the town, this year’s attracted 39,000 people in a single day, but to the FOVG itself.
Over the years, the event has made a major contribution to the £230,000 raised in recent years by Friends of Valley Gardens enabling them to undertake a series of projects to improve the Valley Gardens.
The hard-working but small band of ageing volunteers are reluctant simply to abandon what has now become a significant part of Harrogate’s summer scene.
Although they say they feel the amount of paperwork has grown each year, they think another community group or local charity with a bigger and younger team would be able to maintain the 40s Day’s success in future years.
Jane Blayney said: “There’s an awful lot of time involved with handling all the admin and paperwork required from Harrogate Council, sometimes at only 48 hours’ notice.
“We would like the event to continue in safe hands. We have all the contacts and advice ready to help.”
Jane Blayney said the future of 40s Day was still uncertain but its potential benefit to any new organisers was clear.
She said: “It’s certainly viable for someone else to do.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed it returns next year.”
Harrogate Borough Council said that the only increase in paperwork they were aware of was an increase due to new police requirements for security at public events following the recent terrorist atrocities.