17th June 2020
The Wicksteed Charitable Trust has said a heartfelt thank you after its fundraising appeal to help save Wicksteed Park generated more than £70,000 in donations in just 24 hours.
The park is owned by Wicksteed Charitable Trust but has been run by a wholly-owned subsidiary company, Wicksteed Park Ltd.
Wicksteed Park Ltd was unable to avoid going into administration, with the loss of 48 permanent staff and 67 part-time and other jobs, due to the huge financial strain caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Backed by the Wicksteed Charitable Trust, a small group of employees has formed a new company, much reduced in size, to try and safeguard the future of the park and keep it open to the public until it can look to reopen fully next spring. It has successfully acquired most of the park’s assets and is working to try and secure the remainder.
Today, Oliver Wicksteed, chairman of the Wicksteed Charitable Trust, said everyone connected with the park had been overwhelmed by the messages of support, donations to its JustGiving page and offers of help which had been received since the announcement on Monday.
At the end of Tuesday, the total amount donated (including gift aid) was £71,443.
He said: “The response of people both locally and further afield has been absolutely staggering and we cannot express how much it means to us to have so much support at what is such a difficult time.
“To see the love for the park expressed in so many ways, ranging from people organising their own fundraising events to offering to help around the park or simply expressing their support on email or social media has been amazing.”
Mr Wicksteed said many people had been in touch asking to know the amount of money required to safeguard the park until it can look to reopen fully.
He said that the cost of operating the country park alone, without the park’s rides and attractions, is around £110,000 a month.
He said: “The Trust has been able to act to secure the park in the short term and we are looking to generate revenue from elsewhere too but I am sure people can see we need their help ensure that the park survives and can start to grow again.
“The new company, funded by the Trust, is a much streamlined business aimed at getting the park through to next spring when it can hopefully start to reopen fully.
“Assuming that is around ten months then people can see the financial challenge that we face.
“I can guarantee that every penny that people donate to the Trust will contribute to safeguarding the future of this park that we all love so much.”
Mr Wicksteed and senior members of staff in the new company spent yesterday helping the people who had been made redundant, with a series of drop-in sessions at the park.
He said: “Wicksteed Park is a family and it is truly heartbreaking to see so many of those family members having to leave us.
“But even at a time of such devastation for them personally, many of them expressed their desire that we do everything we can to safeguard the park and start to build it back up again to what it was.”
The decision to call in administrators came after the government announced the closure of the hospitality and leisure industry, hitting seasonal businesses particularly hard.
The coronavirus outbreak left the Trust with no income for months, apart from a small amount of car parking revenue.
The Charity has said it will endeavour to continue funding the opening of the park and Pavilion so that people can still enjoy it whilst exercising and also to appreciate the open space which is crucial to physical and mental wellbeing.
The Charity has also pledged to honour any bookings for forthcoming events as well as annual passes and will endeavour to retain functions and shows in the park Pavilion as soon as government guidelines allow and it is practical.
The Wicksteed Charitable Trust has a JustGiving page
People who are unable to make donations online can send cheques to Wicksteed Park, Barton Rd, Kettering NN15 6NJ, or drop them off in person by going to the park’s reception. Reception is currently closed but details on how to contact a member of staff are posted outside.