Charities and organisations from across Portsmouth host stalls in Victoria Park as revival project hosts community fair with music, art, and heritage fun for all

POURING rain didn’t put off people enjoying a park’s community fair in the city centre.

Saturday, 10th July 2021, 4:24 pm
Updated Sunday, 11th July 2021, 12:06 pm

Residents braved the downpour to visit stalls and enjoy entertainment at Victoria Park turning out with umbrellas, wellington boots, and rain jackets.

More than 30 stalls from local groups, organisations, charities, and associations covered the southern lawn in the park.

Visitors enjoyed art activities, as well as music, live performances, and fun for children.

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Siblings, from left, Harry Bull, 7, Mia Bull, 9, and Daisy Bull, 3, with their painted stones for wellbeing. Community Fair in Victoria Park, Portsmouth
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 100721-16)
Siblings, from left, Harry Bull, 7, Mia Bull, 9, and Daisy Bull, 3, with their painted stones for wellbeing. Community Fair in Victoria Park, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 100721-16)

The fair was organised by the Victoria Park Revival project, which is developing a vision for the park’s future.

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Jackie Collins, the project’s engagement manager, said: ‘This is a five-year lottery funded project - we’ve been going for about 18 months for the development stage, and we’re hoping to get more funding to continue the project in August.’

Laura Young, project manager, said: ‘We’ve got stalls with boards about the project so we can talk to people about what we’re doing.

Laura Young, project manager of the Victoria Park Revival project. Picture: Emily Turner

‘We’re planning a large activities and events programme, we want to create a community hub.

‘The project is co-designed with the community, meeting their needs - that’s the most important element.

‘There are more than 30 stalls from a good selection of our project partners out here today, introducing people to their projects.’

Representatives from Forgotten Veterans, Portsmouth City Council’s LGBT Young People group, Home Start, the Portsmouth Society, Creative Advances, Enable Ability, Aspex Gallery, the Wildlife Trust, and Motiv 8 all hosted stalls in the park.

Caroline Barber, company secretary of The Good Mental Health Cooperative, with volunteers Dave Bilingham and Claire Holloway. Picture: Emily Turner

Caroline Barber, company secretary of The Good Mental Health Cooperative, was joined by volunteers Dave Bilingham and Claire Holloway as they promoted their Books Alive project.

This project facilitates conversations from people’s real life experiences to help challenge stigma and discrimination.

Caroline said: ‘We’re a local social enterprise promoting good mental health.

‘We’re partnering with the Victoria Park project, we’ve been talking with them about how we could use the park as there are such mental health benefits for being outdoors.’

Ms Dingle-Batchelor, her daughter Mary, and their friends Rose and Fanny - also known as Rachel Goodall, Suzy Duxbury, Cordelia Carmichael, and Wendy Robson, members of Red Sauce Theatre Company. Picture: Emily Turner

Volunteer Jonathan Schofield manned the Portsmouth Climate Action Board stall.

He said: ‘We’re an initiative that was instigated by the council.

‘The primary aim is to try and build a community voice for climate action for housing, transport, and business.’

Sarcha Wheeler, who set up the Portsmouth branch of Incredible Edible, was speaking to visitors about her project.

Incredible Edible aims to help communities grow edible plants like tomatoes and lettuce in public spaces so that anyone can help themselves to healthy food.

Sarcha said: ‘That’s exactly what we want to do here in Victoria Park.’

There were also talks and walks about the park's history, monuments and trees hosted by local experts.

Members of the Portsmouth-based Red Sauce Theatre Company kept guests entertained with stories of the history of the park.

Ms Dingle-Batchelor, her daughter Mary, and their friends Rose and Fanny - also known as Rachel Goodall, Suzy Duxbury, Cordelia Carmichael, and Wendy Robson - were decked out in Edwardian clothes with Votes For Women sashes.

Rachel, director of Red Sauce Theatre, said: ‘We’re an inclusive theatre company - we work with any age group and professionals and amateurs.

‘Today we’re informing people about the history of the park. We all have little stories about Portsmouth that we are sharing with people for some educational fun.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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