Yarmouth’s Maritime Festival visitors donate �18,000

VISITORS to the 13th Great Yarmouth’s Maritime Festival dug deep to virtually match last year’s voluntary donation total of �18,000

The two-day event was staged in perfect weather and festival chairman Aileen Mobbs said it was the first year all the tall ship sailings had gone ahead.

She said she was pleased with attendances of around 27,000 and donations, both of which were “amazingly” within 100 of last year’s totals.

She said: “All the sailings were well booked and there just seemed to be a really relaxed atmosphere. Feedback from everyone on the gate as people were leaving was very positive. We were very happy. On Saturday we were down on people but on Sunday we were up.

“The donations were no more than last year but as good as, which is remarkable considering the way things are.

“East Port were absolutely amazing, they help us enormously and look after the ships very well.”

Throughout the weekend, the festival enjoyed enthusiastic support with programmes selling out. Caterers from all over the country said it was their best event of the summer and were keen to book again next year.

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Visiting vessels included Tres Hombres, a Spanish schooner which had travelled directly from the Caribbean to Yarmouth, The Brig Mercedes, a modern and elegant Dutch tall ship and MV Coronia, built in the town as a pleasure steamer she went on to rescue 900 troops from Dunkirk.

Crowds were entertained by various shanty groups, roving minstrels and costumed characters while maritime mascots weaved in and out posing for photos with children.

The Lydia Eva, which spends the summers in South Quay, had a good weekend with hundreds of visitors over the two days raising around �1,700. And this year there was an added attraction with a story teller from the Outer Hebrides sponsored by the Scottish Tourist Board telling tales of her descendants, the fisher lasses - known for their hard work and melodious singing.

A joint ticket system for the two tall ships made sure nothing was out of reach for most people on a budget and seemed to work well. The Lydia Eva is due to return to Lowestoft for the winter on October 6.

Meanwhile around 4,200 visited Great Yarmouth Town Hall over the weekend to view the changes and refurbishment, including the restoration of the atrium, set to finish within the next month.

The search has already begun for showpiece ships for next year’s festival on September 7 and 8.