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Blow for air show

PUBLISHED: 09:06 25 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:31 05 July 2010

Festival directors Barry Hartley, Paul Bayfield and Brian Hunter

Festival directors Barry Hartley, Paul Bayfield and Brian Hunter

ORGANISERS of Lowestoft's Seafront Air Festival have been dealt a major blow after losing their main sponsor.

Birds Eye have been donating a massive wedge of funding, in the region of £30,000 each year for the past decade, helping to establish it as the biggest event in East Anglia.

ORGANISERS of Lowestoft's Seafront Air Festival have been dealt a major blow after losing their main sponsor.

Birds Eye have been donating a massive wedge of funding, in the region of £30,000 each year for the past decade, helping to establish it as the biggest event in East Anglia.

Their withdrawal coincides with the sale of the Lowestoft factory to a private equity company, but it was not thought to be the reason for reducing their level of support.

The news was not entirely unexpected to festival managing director Paul Bayfield, who said last night he was not in the least downhearted, adding that the future of the tourist-puller was not in jeopardy.

Instead, Mr Bayfield called it an opportunity for another local business to be at the forefront of such a large show, now given even more national prominence following the link-up with the Honda Formula 4-Stroke Powerboat championships, which takes place over the weekend immediately after.

He said: “Obviously I am a little bit disappointed because Birds Eye has been part and parcel of the event. We do understand now they have got new owners they may look at things a little bit differently to the way they did before. We understand and accept it and we will move on.

“They are still going to be involved at quite a large level on a local basis though. I think from my personal point of view, if a company like Birds Eye can support an event for 10 years it stands us in really good stead for someone else to come along and become our main sponsor.

“It's a really good advertising and promotional opportunity and we hope that somebody from within the region will step forward. The event sponsors logo is literally on everything, adverts, brochures, forms, websites and merchandise, you name it. Without a doubt there is so much to be had by being the event sponsor as a single company, two working together or even three and we are open to any reasonable suggestions.”

Mr Bayfield said they already had a list of companies in mind which they would be approaching. He stressed the show could go on without a main sponsor, but admitted that the security of having one was a big bonus.

“The key thing about the event sponsor borne out of sadness of losing Birds Eye is that we had an ongoing relationship with them year on year and it gave us a certain amount of security. From that perspective an event sponsor cements the future, but we can do without it.”

A spokesman for Birds Eye, which employs hundreds of people at its factory in Whapload Road, Lowestoft, said last night they were still proud to be supporting the show in 2008.

“Over the past few years we have given the show a significant level of support. We will not be the main sponsor of the show this year, but will be supporting a number of other very worthy local causes.”

Mr Bayfield said he was really hopeful that over the next few weeks they would be able to announce two new sponsors, aside from a main supporter.

Over the last decade the festival has attracted around 300,000 visitors a year, helping the local and regional economy to millions of pounds.

Last year local charities benefited from £26,000 from helping to steward, collect donations and sell merchandise at the event, which will take place this year on Thursday and Friday, July 24 and 25.

Over the weekend a new brochure was launched by Mr Bayfield and fellow directors Brian Hunter and Barry Hartley.

The brochures, give details of the various ways in which the 12th two-day show can benefit existing and potential new sponsors.

A dinner, dance and auction is taking place at the Hotel Victoria, in Lowestoft, on Friday, February 29, to fundraise for the summer spectacular.

Tickets are £25 each, available from Tricia Bayfield on 01502 568206 or by emailing triciabayfield@talktalk.net

For more information on sponsorship, telephone the festival's sponsorship and operations manager Keith Moughton on 01502 523398 or Mr Bayfield on 01502 565881 or 07746 858538. Alternatively you can email paulbayfield@btconnect.com or keith.moughton@waveney.gov.uk

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