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Businesses in push to save Portrush airshow

Portrush International Airshow may be saved after traders offered a financial rescue package.

Coleraine Borough Council had cancelled the annual display, which attracts around 200,000 people and rakes in millions of pounds for the north coast community, because of a lack of funding.

However last night the Chamber of Commerce confirmed that a number of businesses in the borough had pledged their support.

In a statement posted online, Coleraine Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Karen Yates said: “I can confirm the chamber has been approached by a number of businesses in the borough pledging support and sponsorship to save the NI International Airshow.

“We are working closely with Coleraine Borough Council Officers to ascertain if it is possible. The airshow may change in either format or length, but we will endeavour to have the event back to Portrush in September.”

The council normally contributes between £80,000 and £100,000 to the event with the rest of the funding made up from sponsorship. This year the recession took its toll and last week elected members were forced to call it off.

Deputy mayor William King added: “Nothing is definite yet. I understand a statement is being made by the Chamber of Commerce that the traders are going to give some sponsorship.

“But we can’t run a ‘D’ grade airshow to the previous ones. The council are reviewing the whole thing next week. All we can say is that we hope it runs but there has to be sufficient funds.”

The decision to pull the plug on the airshow caused huge disappointment among Portrush residents, traders and tourists.

Almost 3,000 people joined a Facebook group entitled ‘Bring Back the Portrush Airshow 2010’ and last night members were continuing to air their frustrations.

Robert Haden wrote: “I saw the airshow in '08. Unbelievable! I know times are hard but the show is such a big morale-boost and crowd puller.”

Stuart McCracken added: “All is not lost, we may have a chance of salvaging the show.”

Any business interested in offering financial assistance is asked to contact Coleraine Borough Chamber of Commerce on 028 7034 3111 or email info@coleraineboroughchamber.co.uk

Belfast Telegraph