Festival organiser bows out after 10 years at the helm

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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FOR 10 years people in Gosport have enjoyed an annual celebration in Forton.

But now Forton Fest organiser Tammy Kent is calling time on the popular event after her grandmother died earlier this year.

Tammy, 39, said: ‘I can’t go on without my grandma. It’s going to be a tough year.

‘My nan has always done everything with me.

‘It’s very hard, very stressful. There are lots of sleepless nights in the run-up.’

Tammy’s grandmother Gladys Kent, 89, died after falling ill at Easter.

Tammy, chairwoman of Forton Fest, held at Forton Recreation Ground, off Forton Road, added: ‘She was always there still supporting it. She backed it all the time.’

This year will be the 11th festival and will see a huge balloon release in memory of Jasmine Allsop and Olivia Lewry, who were killed in a car crash last November.

Tammy added the release will be a chance for people to remember those who have died over the years.

Forton Fest secretary Lynne Pyle added: ‘I remember it starting as a picnic in the park. It’s grown and we’ve grown with it.’

The festival was launched to challenge the negative public perception of the Forton area.

Residents of Beryton Road wanted to get across the area wasn’t full of drug dealers and anti-social behaviour.

Tammy, Lynne and ward councillors at the council wanted people to celebrate their area.

Tammy, of Durley Road, added: ‘It’s sad losing the festival.

‘Last year was the 10th anniversary. It was pretty awesome.’

Each year the festival offers fun for deprived children in the area and funds a coach trip to holiday camps for the youngsters.

The cash provides funding for parties throughout the year.

Councillor Keith Farr is the Labour ward councillor for Forton on Gosport Borough Council.

Cllr Farr said: ‘It will be a very great loss to the community. I’d like to see somebody turn around and take it over if possible.

‘I’d hate to see it go after all these years.’

Cllr Farr paid tribute to the hard work put in.

He said: ‘They’ve put in a tremendous effort in keeping it alive.’

The festival runs from 11am to 4pm on August 30 at Forton Recreation Ground.