ORGANISERS have praised local businesses for stepping in to help Witney’s carnival after long-term sponsors pulled out because of the recession.

Carnival committee chairman Peter Davies said several regular, large backers had not signed up for Saturday’s event – but organisers had found more, smaller donators.

Mr Davies would not release exact figures but he said: “One always used to donate £4,000 to the carnival but I think he has had to make a lot of people redundant this year and, quite rightly, politically he cannot be seen spending a lot of money on a public event.

“What we have had to do is work very hard to find a lot of smaller sponsors.

“If the economy turns around next year, then may be they will all come back.”

The committee chairman stressed that the funds hadnow all been found, from up to 40 sponsors, and the carnival would go ahead as planned.

He said: “In this tough economic climate, I am particularly pleased with the response from local businesses and the public in supporting what has become a popular community event.

“The committee has worked tremendously hard to raise sponsorship which, together with the proceeds from the day, will be distributed to the participating clubs for donation to local causes. We hope for good weather and look forward to seeing everyone on the day.”

The carnival committee has also had to raise extra donations for the £1,000 costs of insuring the event, which has been running for at least 50 years.

About 3,000 people are expected to line the streets of Witney for the parade.

Organised by the Rotary Club of Witney, The Lions Club of Witney, Witney Round Table and No 2120 (Witney) Squadron of the Air Training Corps, it will begin at 11am at The Leys, in Station Lane.

The Oxford Caledonian Pipe Band will lead the parade around the town and back to The Leys.

The afternoon will be filled with entertainment for the whole family, including arena events, a donkey derby, Rudi Wallenda’s Comedy Car, and a tug of war.