The 73rd annual Alderney Week was set to take place between 2 and 7 August, with the theme 'Alderney Adventures – the show must go on'. The local festival usually features a variety of live music and entertainment for families, with a programme of more than 70 events scheduled for this year.
However, after an unexpected surge of Covid infections and isolations in Alderney, the festival has been called off. The Civil Contingencies Authority was unaware of the event’s cancellation until the official announcement, saying the decision was not a direct result of its consultation.
Alderney Week chief organiser Ronnie Cairnduff said the decision was a difficult and painful one to make, but the safest option for everyone involved.
‘It is incredibly disappointing, this will undoubtedly massively impact the island, with so many people from Guernsey and further afield cancelling their trips – people wanted the festivities,’ he said.
‘There is a huge fear factor with Covid right now, understandably so, but also as an organiser of a major event the last thing you want is for there to be a big spike after your event and feel responsible.’
He added that the committee thought an accurate track and trace system would be next to impossible for such a large scale event, leading to a significant number of volunteers deciding to pull out of the programme, fearing infection and sealing the festival’s fate.
Policy & Finance Committee deputy chairman Ian Carter said the organisers' decision was highly commendable.
‘Difficult decisions are taken by courageous leaders who weigh up the facts and display good judgement,’ he said.
States member Steve Roberts said Mr Cairnduff had taken responsible action.
‘I am very glad the Alderney Week Committee displayed sense and a commitment to the protection of the local community and I commend them for a decision that screams common sense,’ he said.
Policy & Finance Committee chairman Bill Abel said Mr Cairnduff and his team always worked incredibly hard to show Alderney in its best light.
‘I am extremely saddened by this very difficult decision that the Alderney Week team had to make, and they are to be thanked for the wide consultation that was done and acted on.’
Many more States of Alderney members also expressed their sorrow, as it was reported this would be the last year Mr Cairnduff would organise the festival.
Alderney’s President William Tate said Mr Cairnduff has made a remarkable contribution to the community throughout the years. ‘Alderney Week flows through his veins and has been such an integral part of his life for so long. He will, I suspect, step out of the limelight but continue to advise and assist from the wings – you can’t keep an old pro down.’