Why,  you may very well ask, is someone still going on about ‘Oxjam’ in January? Wasn’t that all done and dusted months ago?

Certainly the highest profile event – the ‘Takeover’ – was in mid-October but there was another event – quite a lucrative one – in November (‘Classical Oxjam’) and then it has taken ages to gather in all donations and sponsorships, the last one not appearing in our account until 23 December. It was therefore not ’til early January that we could say with certainty that we’d accounted for everything and paid over a nice big chunk of dosh to Oxfam.

You probably already know that our final total in 2016 was a not-to-be-sniffed-at £14 thousand (£14,020 to be precise) which we were able to announce in early December because we knew of money coming our way even though it hadn’t been paid in. To set it in a national context, that was the second highest amount raised in the whole of the country – in fact, in the last three years, Oxjam Beeston has been in the ‘top three’ every year (2014: 3rd, 2015: 1st, 2016: 2nd). Not that it’s about competing but it does indicate that Oxjam Beeston is just about the biggest Oxjam Festival, consistently, in the UK.

After six years – and more than £60,000 raised for Oxfam – Beeston has become used to the Festival – and ‘Takeover’ in particular – as a unique and much-anticipated community event. But like the Carnival. ‘Party in the Park’, Christmas lights switch-on and, most topically, The Chinese New Year Celebration, it can’t be taken for granted. As we all know, and as we have seen, the Borough Council has no funds to pay for these kinds of events – who knows how the arms-length company, Liberty Leisure, will handle anything like this going forward?

‘The Party in the Park’ 2016 was heavily sponsored to make it feasible and happily the weather was kind to the Council and all of us. As for the others, they are either run by volunteers or at the mercy of empty coffers at the Council and in neither case can they be taken for granted. This is very sad, of course, and extremely short-sighted of whoever is responsible, be they local or national politicians. It isn’t just about giving people a great time, the Oxjam Takeover, for one, clearly brings in people to the town who are in celebratory and generous mood. Local venues and traders are keen to be involved and happy to welcome paying customers, whether they are buying drinks or food, even if they are not directly involved.

So what of Oxjam Beeston 2017? I have made it clear that I will NOT be the so-called ‘Takeover Manager’ this year, although I do hope to run one or two of the ancillary fund-raising events. Perhaps others of you out there might also consider getting involved as ‘gig makers’ (as Oxjam calls them) that is organisers of one-off fund-raising events. However, if there is going to be the ‘jewel-in-the-crown’ Takeover event, someone with the time, skills  and energy to commit to the project needs to step forward.

Otherwise, folks, it ain’t gonna happen! And then, we will sadly be able to complete the phrase “They think it’s all over – it is now!” Let’s hope not.

Colin Tucker

Anybody wishing to know more is welcome to contact Colin by email – colintucker18@gmail.com