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Amber hunt 2008 cancelled

PUBLISHED: 14:20 27 June 2008 | UPDATED: 20:44 05 July 2010

ANOTHER tradition at the heart of Southwold life has fallen victim to the increasing demands of bureaucracy and the affects of the credit crunch.

This would have been the eighth year of the town's amber hunt and its cancellation comes hot on the heels of the news last week that the organisers of Southwold's Christmas swim have had to axe the event following ever more complex health and safety rules.

ANOTHER tradition at the heart of Southwold life has fallen victim to the increasing demands of bureaucracy and the affects of the credit crunch.

This would have been the eighth year of the town's amber hunt and its cancellation comes hot on the heels of the news last week that the organisers of Southwold's Christmas swim have had to axe the event following ever more complex health and safety rules.

The amber hunt, which brought hundreds of extra visitors into the resort, has been cancelled by its creators and organisers Astrid and Robin Fournel, who run the Amber Shop and museum in the town. The couple say the decision to cancel was not taken lightly, but unfortunately, the pressures and rapidly growing costs of running a small business; not just in Suffolk but countrywide has pushed then into this situation.

“Each year it has cost me between £3,000 and £4,000 to put on, I make nothing from it and all the proceeds go to the charity Suffolk Coast and Heaths Connect, with how things are at the moment in Britain it seems wrong to spend that kind of money when everyone is suffering.

“This, coupled with growing bureaucracy and red tape - health and safety has gone too far - have made it impossible to precede with this event which I love so much,” said Mr Fournel.

He added: “It makes me really sad that we cannot go ahead this year as the hunt brought such pleasure to those taking part and to us.”

The hunt, which had become a much treasured part of Southwold life, was the brainchild of the Fournels, following their own love of amber, but also because they wanted to encourage children to spend some time away from their computers and televisions while learning a little about amber, while being out in the fresh air with family and friends.

Mr Fournel said: “Over the past seven years we have had lots of fun and some fantastic comments and letters from children and adults alike about the day's activities.”

He vowed the event would return next year, adding: “We have thoroughly enjoyed the last seven years and we sincerely intend to restore the amber hunt in 2009.”

This would also have been the fifth year of Southwold's Christmas swim, which has raised thousands for charity. Last year more than 130 people took part in the event and a further 750 people watched the brave swimmers plunge into the chilly sea. It raised £8,050 and has in total raised more than £17,000 for local charities.

But organisers are finding it increasingly difficult to meet all the health and safety rules, in particular the need to find more marshals for the event.

Anyone wanting to take over the organising of the Christmas swim should contact Dudley Clarke on 01986 873065.

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