Save Birmingham’s St Patrick’s Day Parade

Scene from last year’s parade

Scene from last year’s parade

This year’s Birmingham St Patrick’s Parade will be the final one to receive funding from a cash-strapped city council, prompting the launch of an ambitious crowd-funding project in a bid to secure the future of the event going forward.

The funding blow comes as a shock to the organising committee but has prompted a determined drive to ensure it will be business as usual for next year’s parade and the festival that surrounds it.
The committee is appealing to the Midlands Irish community to dig deep and donate sums big and small to keep the parade alive.

The crowd-funding project “The Show Must Go On #SaveStPats” has now been launched and offers big-hearted well-wishers the chance to pledge anything from £3 upwards, ranging from wristbands to banners on the parade route. Supporters can also choose an amount they wish to donate, or sign up to volunteer their spare time to help with the organising of the parade and festival.

The organising committee has launched a special website www.savestpats.co.uk as part of its drive to preserve what has become one of the biggest cultural events in Birmingham’s calendar.

The planning for this year’s festival and the parade, which takes place on March 15, is well underway and has escaped swinging cuts to services being imposed by Birmingham City Council, which have seen job losses and opening hours reduced at the new Library of Birmingham, as the council desperately seeks to save money.

Recommendations to cut funding to community events will only come in from April this year, giving the St Patrick’s parade and festival a welcome reprieve for 2015.
The parade costs more than £70,000 each year and last year the city council’s contribution was £20,000.

Going forward the organising committee will be responsible for raising funding for the essential services needed to meet health and safety requirements, such as road closures, barriers on the parade route, street cleaning, toilets, bins, first aid provision and security.

Anne Tighe, chair of The Birmingham St Patrick’s Festival Committee, said: “This is a devastating blow for community events like ours and we’re deeply saddened about the impact that this could have on the community.

“What’s important to remember is the event is not organised by the council, it’s organised by volunteers in the Birmingham Irish community.”

She added: “We are thrilled to have been able to offer a celebration of Irish heritage and culture each year with the Birmingham St Patrick’s Day Parade and we hope to continue to do so.

“The parade means so much to so many which is why we calling on our supporters to help in anyway they can to keep the parade alive.”

The Birmingham St Patrick’s Parade continues to go from strength to strength. Now recognised as the third largest event in the world commemorating the feat day of Ireland’s patron saint, last year it saw 90,000 people descend on Digbeth.

Essential costs include closing 37 roads (£5,000), an on-site field hospital (£5,000), security (£12,000), toilets (£1,000), bins and bin removal (£500), street cleaning after the event (£5,000) and street licence (£2,000).

Anyone wishing to support the St Patrick’s Day Parade can visit www.savestpats.co.uk to see the options that are available. People are also being urged to share the page via social networking.

There is also a recruitment drive to fill voluntary positions to help out on parade day. To download a copy of the registration form visit stpatricksbirmingham.com