THE organisers of the Blackberry Fair say they are facing homelessness if a new location to store their artwork is not found.

The event has faced difficulties in recent years, being cancelled for the last two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as struggling for funding.

Although a successful art trail was held this year in lieu of the full event the organisers no longer have the space to store their creations.

The group had been using a shed in Jubilee Park, but this will soon no longer be readily available, with other groups vying for the space.

Clare Bellingham, from the group, spoke at Whitchurch Town Council about the issues the Blackberry Fair was facing.

She said: "We need somewhere to store things and somewhere to work.

"We have things that are quite big and don't fit in a container.

"We don't have anywhere to go so our problems have grown they're not getting smaller."

The group are in preliminary talks with members of the Grocott family over the use of the Talbot Centre, located on the Whitchurch Business Park, and Clare hopes the town council can provide their backing to the move.

Clare added: "We've approached Linda Grocott and talked with her for a couple of years about using the old Talbot Centre.

"Agro have agreed to give up the Talbot Centre so we can move on with discussions, but we are hoping the town council will speak with her and say how much the Blackberry Fair does for the town.

"It will be impossible to keep going if we don't.

"In the short term we've been made homeless – we don't have any answers."

Councillor Andy Hall spoke in support of the Blackberry Fair, and suggested the council speak with the Grocott family to see if a deal could be arranged.

He said: "I see no reason why the town council can't write to Linda Grocott.

"I think that's the least we can do and see where we go from there.

"Would a couple of councillors approach Linda and see what we can do?"

In the short term though, the Blackberry Fair needs to find a new home, having since confirmed the Talbot Centre is also unavailable.

Steve Chapman, from Blackberry Fair, said that while he was disappointed to no longer have the use of the shed, he has been boosted by the support towards the fair.

He said: "As much as it was a disappointment to find ourselves once more in search of a town based space in Whitchurch having had such fun over the summer months in the Jubilee Park shed, we remain heartened by the continued enthusiasm and creative support we received from so many people of all ages in Whitchurch and beyond who joined forces with us to stage this years new art trail.

"The shed enabled us to provide dynamic workshop space for new and established professional young artists, develop ideas to work with and alongside a new and emerging arts venue in town and all of this culminating in new public art pieces for Whitchurch that celebrate it's cultural identity.

"Pound for pound if nothing else Blackberry Fair gives real value for money.

"It's the positive community investment sitting at the heart of our ethos that allows us to achieve these goals so we must remain ever hopeful that at some point soon someone will genuinely recognise the imaginative longer term benefits a project like the fair and its other activities brings to a town like Whitchurch and help us find a home from which to sew seeds and grow in all directions.

"Like everything around us we're adapting and evolving as a movement so who knows where and in what guise Blackberry Fair may emerge going forwards.

"There's a growing community of people who were both born and or have moved to the area and who see positive, sustainable, creative thinking as a way to address the challenges we and future generations face.

"This is an exciting time to celebrate 'The Power of Together'."