Enthusiastic volunteers make things happen in Steyning

One of the A Walk for All information boards describing wildlife to be found n the vicinity
One of the A Walk for All information boards describing wildlife to be found n the vicinity

What would our small towns and villages do without the constant involvement of enthusiastic volunteers?

Behind the scenes at many events and projects, there are groups of people working hard and donating their time to make sure everything goes to plan.

Last year's Steyning and District Food and Drink Festival launch. Picture: Steve Robards SR1719755

Last year's Steyning and District Food and Drink Festival launch. Picture: Steve Robards SR1719755

Steyning and district is a prime example, with one such event being the annual food and drink festival, which this year begins on September 1 and runs to October 6.

There are around 65 events on the programme and more than 60 different special offers from various businesses in the area.

Reina Alston, one of the organisers, said: “The planning and organisation starts in early April and goes right through until the event finishes.

“The organising committee consists of just eight local people, who devise, support and deliver the festival, and every one of them is giving their time freely in order to create something that will benefit and bring enjoyment to the local community and visitors to the town, as well as supporting the local economy.”

The parade that launched this year's Steyning Festival

The parade that launched this year's Steyning Festival

This festival team works under the auspices of Steyning and District Community Partnership’s visitor and tourism group, a long-standing organisation that has also been responsible for such things as creating the Bramber Walk for All, the design and production of the ever-popular series of four walking route leaflets, establishing a tourism information touchscreen and leaflet corner in the Post Office, producing and gaining permission for a brown tourism sign on the A283, and promoting the amenities to be found in the area.

In the pipeline are events to run alongside the 2019 Horsham District Council Year of Culture, two of which are the Norman Tale to be held in Bramber and the St Cuthman’s Wheelbarrow Race in Steyning.

Plans are also afoot to provide an architecturally-designed canopy within Newmans Gardens car park, identifying the twitten which gives quick access to the High Street, better signage to the South Downs Way and updated information boards for the car parks.

All these projects and events need people to run them. There is a constant search for those who will donate their time and the partnership would be really pleased to hear from anyone who would like to step forward and add their practical and much-needed help to the existing team. Please email steyningsouthdowns@gmail.com for more information.

Steyning late night shopping is always popular at Christmas time. Picture: Steve Robards  SR1635761

Steyning late night shopping is always popular at Christmas time. Picture: Steve Robards SR1635761

The Steyning and District Business Chamber also works tirelessly all year to support the community. Along with representing the interests of more than 60 businesses in the area, two examples of its additional workload include organising the Steyning late-night Christmas shopping event, a mammoth commitment, and a project which raised much-needed funds to replace the old and failing Christmas lights that straddle the High Street and always play such a vital part in the Yuletide atmosphere and celebrations. Contact www.steyningbusinesschamber.co.uk to find out more about joining them.

The glorious bi-annual Steyning Festival is another fine example of volunteer power and was much enjoyed by so many people during May and June this year. A huge number of people are involved in ‘getting the show on the road’ and running the numerous events within it. Word has it that this is the biggest volunteer-run festival in the UK. Contact www.steyningfestival.co.uk to become a Friend of the festival and help make sure this event continues for years to come.

Reina said: “With cost cutting in many council departments still taking place, the onus to produce results from this voluntary source becomes more and more important and intense if we are to continue to produce community projects and events that enhance and bring happiness to the places in which we live.

“If you feel you could be part of this army, you will be welcomed and much appreciated, plus benefiting from the opportunity to see how your involvement really can make things happen.

“By the way, as this has not been mentioned, it’s fun too, not all hard work!”