AN annual gala that has taken place in a town for more than half a century will not be going ahead this year.

Darwen Gala has been held every August for the past 53 years but, at the beginning of March, current committee members told the Lancashire Telegraph that due to a lack of volunteers willing to join the committee, the gala would be in danger of not going ahead.

A crisis meeting was held on Tuesday but there was not enough support to keep the gala running and organisers were forced to announce the annual tradition would be cancelled.

A statement from an outgoing gala committee spokesman said: “Unfortunately, after 53 years, Darwen Gala will not be taking place this year.

“We have repeatedly asked for volunteers to join us but, unfortunately, we haven’t had any takers.

“This year, we’ve had three ‘final’ meetings and although half a dozen people came to one of the meetings, they didn’t feel able to come to subsequent ones.

“Over the years, we’ve lost members and it’s got to the stage where there simply are not enough of us to carry out all the jobs.

“The outgoing committee offered to guide new members through their first year of running the event as we appreciated how daunting it could be.

“It’s been suggested that people don’t know about the gala and that our advertising is not widespread enough but we print 3,000 to 4,000 booklets a year, which are distributed throughout businesses and public buildings in Darwen and Blackburn.

“We have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages and a website and we don’t know what else we can do within our budget.

“We’d like to thank everyone for their support and those that have made the Gala so much fun, we’re really sad that it has to end.”

Darwen Town Councillor John East said that the outgoing committee members had been to the council to ask for support and despite them providing financial help, the Gala had still faced problems.

Cllr East said: “After all these years I am really sad and disappointed that the Gala and this great Darwen tradition can’t continue.

“It’s a very sad time that people can’t find the time or energy to get together; it’s got the financial backing but it’s getting the people that’s the problem.

“Hopefully in the future it can be revived.”