A £10,000 donation has kick-started a sponsorship drive for a town’s River Festival next summer.
The gift from transport company Alan Firmin Ltd was presented by Paul Denyer to Dave Naghi, chairman of the Maidstone River Festival committee, at a combined launch night and awards evening held at the Thai Orchid restaurant in Maidstone on Monday.
The festival, which attracts thousands to the riverbank in Maidstone each year, receives no official funding and relies entirely on the goodwill of sponsors to make it happen.
Describing the festival as an opportunity “to show Maidstone at its best”, Mr Naghi invited other firms and organisations to get behind “this real community event”.
One of those already doing so is the law firm Gill Tucker Turner which sponsors the prizes for the festival’s photography competition.
There were two winners, Terry Wong for his night photography, winning for the second year in a row, and Martyn Knight for his daytime shot.
The prize for best-dressed boat this year went to The Spirit of Mary, captained by John Helm of Little Venice.
A competition for children was organised at the festival by committee members Clairey Suzanne and Marcus Niblett and their dog Peppermint, with the children invited to locate hidden Peppermint lookalikes.
There were five young winners: Kimberley, Mylie, Jenson, Ava and Ellie, three of whom were at the event to collect their prizes: a book about Peppermint’s adventures, and a cuddly toy.
Although, the festival needs sponsorship in advance to lay on the show, any money collected on the day is distributed to charities and this year the festival supported the Young Lives Foundation, Making a Difference to Maidstone and the Heart of Kent Hospice.
They received £200, £300 and £300 respectively
The Heart of Kent Hospice additionally received £849 raised specifically by the members of the Hampstead and Yalding Cruising Club.
The first Maidstone River Festival was held in 1979, though it has not always had a smooth ride and there have been years when it has not taken place.
The event this July included not only scores of boats lining the riverside and the infamous raft race, but also a children’s play area, a live music forum, rides on an antique bus and a giant fireworks display.
It ran simultaneously with a Steam Punk Festival at Maidstone Museum and an open day at the Maidstone Carriage Museum.
At the end of the night, the Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Gordon Newton praised everyone who had taken part in the River Festival, from the organisers, to the boat owners, to the commercial sponsors and the public for attending.
He said he had visited the River Festival for the first time this summer and had been overwhelmed by the event.
He specifically praised Mr Naghi, whose “drive” it was “that made the festival such a success”.
Any business wishing to sponsor the 2024 festival should contact Mr Naghi by email to firstname.lastname@example.org